Friday, December 21, 2007
Musical Monkey Shines!
I received a treasure today.
The first record album I remember listening to as a wee young 'un was Walt Disney's Musical Monkey Shines. A collection of "western, circus, and nonsense songs for children," it features selections ranging from the wistful (the ballad of "Toby Tyler") to the utterly wacky ("That Crazy Place in Outer Space," sung by Annette Funicello). Fess Parker, of Davey Crockett and Daniel Boone fame, croons a few winners, too: "Pecos Bill," "A Cowboy Needs a Horse," and "Good Night, Little Wrangler."
I don't know if there's even a handful of folks to whom these old songs would have any meaning—though I suppose there must be a few, since the rare copy of the LP on Ebay generally goes for an extortionate price. But I have vivid recollections of my dad rocking me in his arms in the evening while this record was playing. In fact, those may well be my earliest memories (apart from the most bone-chilling night-horror of my youth, which I think I've related somewhere in a past blog; no doubt, I'll relate it again one of these days). My brother also has fond memories of the album, as we've both been actively seeking a copy for years and years.
I have no idea what happened to the old record that we owned all those years ago; I suppose it got tossed out with lord-knows-what other old relics. I had pretty much resigned myself to never hearing those old songs again, since the album seems such a rarity. But then, a couple of weeks ago, a copy turned up on Ebay, in a lot of 20-some Disney records from the early 60s. What a trove! I put in a reasonable bid, expecting to be outbid more or less immediately.
Nope. I won the thing. And today, the albums arrived. So this evening, I made myself the king of hot-pepper martinis, turned out the lights, and put that sucker on.
To some, I suppose, just bunch of maudlin claptrap. To me, it was heaven. Some of the true delight of childhood came roaring back to me. I could see my dad again as clearly as if he were alive today. So much power in that silly old music.
I think that may have been the best gift I could have asked for this Christmas season.