This morning, I once again set aside the customary “Talking Animals” format to deliver the Talking Animals Annual Holiday Animal Song special—that is, a show entirely devoted to Holiday-oriented animal tunes. As has been required in the previous years of this special, and as I acknowledge while over-explaining this program’s premise (over-explaining the premise has become its own tradition—one of many in this show), the only way to pull off this conceit is to assemble the special with a liberal sprinkling of “Rudolph”-related songs. But, as I note, over the years, I’ve become less reliant on such tunes, thanks to locating more varied new non-Rudolph animal tunes, like Chris Isaak’s “Dogs Love Christmas Too” (from his just-released album, “Everybody Knows It’s Christmas”) which kicked off this morning’s show. In fact, the core of one of today’s sets involved songs addressing Rudolph in unflattering ways, and/or touting other, lower-profile reindeer: Marion & Martin’s “Listen I’m Blitzen,” Otis Gibbs’ “Lloyd The Reindeer” and Joe Diffie’s “Leroy The Redneck Reindeer.” Still, it’s essential to include at least one version of “Run Rudolph Run,” so we played the signature barn-burner by Keith Richards, after earlier spinning the decidedly different rendition of that Chuck Berry classic by Norah Jones. One of our brand-new entries was the jaunty, if lyrically unsettling contribution from Wild Earp, “The Krampus Song.” These numbers took their place alongside a longtime staple on this show, the quirky catchy “Dominick, The Italian Christmas Donkey” by Vinnie Bonofici And His Italian American Band—in recent years, this song has been requested, just as we’re playing it, or about to. To round out our playlist, a program of this nature is practically constitutionally obligated to offer “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas”—in this case, the more recent version by Kacey Musgraves. We also worked in something by my beloved EELS, the propulsive fave, “Christmas Is Going To The Dogs.” I took a brief break from playing cool yule songs for the traditional reading of what I call the Dorothy Strauss Christmas message, as dictated by tradition, or at least the tradition of the Talking Animals Annual Holiday Animal Song special. That message, whose author had always been unknown to me and my family while I was growing up–my Mom hung a poster of it each Christmas season, as part of our home’s holiday decorations–-was written by Howard W. Hunter, whom we credit multiple times in this show for fashioning those poignant, powerful words.
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