Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Stanley Arnold Story

Who is Stanley Arnold, and what does he have to do with the Goodyear Christmas albums? Everything, as it turns out. The liner notes for the first nine albums gave credit to a firm known as “Stanley Arnold & Associates,” and I always wondered what that meant. I found the answer in a book called “Tale of the Blue Horse and Other Million Dollar Adventures”, authored by Stanley Arnold himself.

Simply put, Stanley Arnold was an idea man. He originally worked for the ad agency Young & Rubicam, then struck out on his own. He didn’t want to start an ad agency, he started an idea agency, coming up with marketing ideas for companies but letting them (or their ad agencies) handle the details themselves. One of those ideas was getting Goodyear to put out an album of Christmas songs. His logic was simple: “Santa Claus never used a tire, but it occurred to me that Christmas had two deep connections with Goodyear. First, everyone is interested in Christmas; second, Goodyear sells many, many tires during the pre-Christmas season. That would be the million dollar idea for Goodyear, I decided: an album of Christmas music.” He was adamant that the album not be one of “cutie” songs like “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” or “Rudolph”, but rather of classic tunes done by quality artists – a collection worthy to be called “The GREAT Songs of Christmas.”

Arnold was savvy business-wise, not just in the idea department. He had Goodyear act as the outlet for the album, but did not require them to actually invest anything in it; that way, Goodyear couldn’t lose a penny on the deal even if no one actually bought the record. But he did have to convince Goodyear to think big: they initially thought 30,000 copies nationwide would be sufficient for Columbia to make; Arnold was thinking 3 million. They eventually compromised at 900,000. The success was proven by a simple act: by December 1, Goodyear ordered its advertising agency to stop all advertising for the record –because there weren’t any left! The print order for the 1962 album was 1.5 million, and almost 2 million for the 1963 album. History repeated itself, and those albums sold out well before Christmas also. (One additional note: the ad agency that created, and prematurely had to cancel, the ads for the albums was Arnold’s old firm, Young & Rubicam.)

“Tale of the Blue Horse” was published in 1967, and the Stanley Arnold acknowledgment stopped on the albums two years later. I don’t know if the contract ran out, or Goodyear decided to take over, or if Columbia decided to deal directly with Goodyear. But at least we know how this whole thing got started. Based on his writing, Arnold thinks quite a bit of himself. But that ego has given millions of us a million memories – and the fact that you’re reading this shows that those memories carry on many years later. God bless you, Stanley Arnold!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

8 Tracks!

Laugh if you will, but they were once as common as CD's (and CD's are slowly disappearing in the download age, but that's another story). Here's what I've found so far; I suspect there are more floating out there in a thrift store somewhere...

Album 10 (1970)

Christmas Is.. (1972)

Great Songs of Christmas - Perry Como & Eugene Ormandy (1977)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Album Six

The Great Songs of Christmas
Album Six
Columbia Special Products
CSM 388 (Mono) / CSS388 (Stereo)


Silent Night - Barbara Streisand

Do You Hear What I Hear? - Andy Williams

The Christmas Song - Johnny Mathis
- edited from version on original album

The Holiday of Love/Caroling, Caroling - The King Family

Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring - Pablo Casals
- Performed by a string group with choir - no other credits given

O Little Town of Bethlehem/It Came Upon a Midnight Clear - The King Family

O Come, All Ye Faithful - Jan Peerce

Ave Maria - Barbara Streisand

Frosty the Snowman - Ray Conniff

We Need a Little Christmas - New Christy Minstrels

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow - Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Ray Conniff
- extracted from medley on original album

Noel Nouvelet - Jan Peerce

March of the Kings - Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly - Mormon Tabernacle Choir

White World of Winter - Bing Crosby

Il Est Ne - New Christy Minstrels

Still, Still, Still - Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Away in the Manger - Mahalia Jackson/Percy Faith

We Wish You a Merry Christmas - Ray Conniff
- extracted from medley on original album

Print ad for Album Six:

Album Five

The Great Songs of Christmas
Album Five
Columbia Special Products
CSP 238S (Stereo) / CSP238M (Mono)


O Holy Night - Andy Williams

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear - Andre Kostelanetz
- extracted from medley on original album

Caroling, Caroling - Anna Maria Alberghetti

Jolly Old St Nicholas - Maurice Chevalier

The Little Drummer Boy - Phildelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy

The Star Carol - Anna Maria Alberghetti

We Three Kings of Orient Are - Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy

Hark the Herald Angels Sing / Angels We Have Heard on High - Andre Kostelanetz

Silent Night - Maurice Chevalier

The Lord's Prayer - Richard Tucker

Sleigh Ride - Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme

The Twelve Days of Christmas - Dinah Shore

O Little Town of Bethlehem - Richard Tucker

Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming - Diahann Carroll

Some Children See Him - Diahann Carroll

O Come All Ye Faithful/The First Noel - Danny Kaye

Silver Bells - Doris Day

Jingle Bells / It's Christmas Time All Over The World - Sammy Davis Jr
- 'Jingle Bells' into not available anywhere else!

Bonus - print ad for the LP:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Album Four

The Great Songs of Christmas
Album Four
Columbia Special Products
CSP 155 - Mono / CSP 155S - Stereo

Silent Night - Mary Martin

O Little Town of Bethlehem - New York Philharmonic/Leonard Bernstein

O Come All Ye Faithful - Robert Goulet

Joy to the World - Phildelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy

Good King Wenceslas - Percy Faith

What Child Is This - Brothers Four

Holy, Holy, Holy / Abide With Me - Mahalia Jackson

Ave Maria - Isaac Stern

Toyland - Doris Day

The Shepherd Boy - New Christy Minstrels

Deck the Halls - New York Philharmonic/Leonard Bernstein

The First Noel - Mitch Miller

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Andre Previn

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen - Brothers Four

Coventry Carol - Mitch Miller

O Come Little Children - Phildelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy

Go Tell It On the Mountain - Brothers Four

Sing Hosanna, Hallelujah - New Christy Minstrels

Sample print ad for the album:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Goodyear or not Goodyear?

When is a Goodyear Christmas album not a Goodyear Christmas album? Some copies of the first album did not list Goodyear on the album cover, although it did say "Created Exclusively"; and some copies of Albums Two and Three had the Goodyear reference blotted out on the cover. I'm figuring that either Columbia tried to market these through other businesses besides Goodyear, or maybe this was the version you got when you ordered a prior edition using one of the order forms. Whatever the case, the Goodyear name and logo is nowhere to be found on these. The mystery may never be solved, but here's proof they exist:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Album Three

The Great Songs of Christmas
Album Three
Columbia Special Products XTV 88656
- Mono

O Little Town of Bethlehem - Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy

Silent Night - Julie Andrews

O Come All Ye Faithful - Mormon Tabernacle Choir

I Saw Three Ships / Here We Go A-Caroling - Percy Faith

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear / Away in the Manger - Mitch Miller

Ave Maria - Isaac Stern

Panis Angelicus - Robert Goulet

Joy to the World - Mormon Tabernacle Choir

O Tannenbaum - Percy Faith

Snow in the Street / Joseph Dearest Joseph Mine - New Christy Minstrels

Carol of the Bells - New York Philharmonic/Leonard Bernstein

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing / A La Nanita Nana - The Norman Luboff Choir

The Holly and the Ivy / We Wish You a Merry Christmas - Andre Previn

We Three Kings - Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Wassail Wassail - New Christy Minstrels

Sample print ad for the album:

Album Two

The Great Songs of Christmas
Album Two
Columbia Special Products XTV 86100
- Mono

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Percy Faith

O Little Town of Bethlehem - Mormon Tabernacle Choir

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear / Coventry Carol - Eileen Farrell

Away in a Manger - Andre Kostelanetz

Joy to the World - Percy Faith

The First Noel - Nelson Eddy

Sleep Holy Babe - Eileen Farrell

The Holly and the Ivy - The Norman Luboff Choir

O Come All Ye Faithful / Silent Night - Earl Wrightson

Deck the Halls - Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen - Andre Previn

Angels We Have Heard on High / Good King Wenceslas - Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy / Waltz of the Flowers - New York Philharmonic/Leonard Bernstein

Toyland & March of the Toys - Andre Kostelanetz

O Tannenbaum / Here We Come A-Caroling - The Norman Luboff Choir

Jingle Bells - Nelson Eddy

Sample print ad for the LP:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Great Songs of Christmas

The Great Songs of Christmas
By Ten Great Artists of Our Time
Columbia Special Products XTV 69406
- Mono

Silent Night - Mormon Tabernacle Choir

O Little Town of Bethlehem - Eileen Farrell

O Come All Ye Faithful/Gesu Bambino - Percy Faith
- edited down from longer version on the original album
- link points to stereo version which is *not* quite the same as this

What Child Is This (Greensleeves) - Mitch Miller and the Gang

O Holy Night - Earl Wrightson
- originally released on an Andre Kostelanetz album with Wrightson as soloist

For Unto Us a Child is Born (from 'Messiah') - Leonard Bernstein/New York Philharmonic
- uncredited: Westminster Choir

Ring Christmas Bells/The First Noel/We Wish You a Merry Christmas -
Frank DeVol & the Rainbow Strings
- special edit made from separate medleys on the original DeVol album

The Twelve Days of Christmas - Burl Ives
- uncredited: Percy Faith Orchestra & Singers

Carol of the Bells - Mormon Tabernacle Choir

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen/We Three Kings/Deck the Halls -
The Norman Luboff Choir

Sleigh Ride - Andre Kostelanetz

Bonus feature! Here's a couple of vintage print ads for the LP:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Great Songs of Christmas from Goodyear: An Overview

For seventeen years, from 1961 through 1977, The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company graced each Christmas season with an LP of holiday favorites by various artists, sold both at Goodyear stores and at Richfield (later ARCO) stations.

These records were a big part of Christmas in my growing years, so when GeoCities was all the rage, I put together a site dedicated to the albums, listing not only their content but links to where the songs could be purchased (which was not always possible) and some background information. Now GeoCities is gone, but because of the responses I got to the original site, I am determined to keep the information online for enjoyment and reference. Postings dedicated to each album will be added over the next couple of months. For now, let's start with an overview:

For the first nine years, the albums always had the same title: "The Great Songs of Christmas." In 1970, the album was called "The Best of the Great Songs of Christmas" and featured songs already included in prior releases. The last seven albums had different titles each year (although the "Great Songs of Christmas" title was brought back for the 1975 and 1977 releases).

Until 1975, the albums were produced by Columbia Records through its Columbia Special Products subsidiary, and most often featured artists from the Columbia stable. Whether by choice or by legal obligation, the same performances were often used on more than one album; I think most of The Barbara Streisand Christmas Album ended up spread out over several Goodyear albums. Selections were also sometimes edited down or together from their original form in order to maximize the content. The last three albums were released through RCA on the RCA Special Products label. Of course, RCA was no stranger to the Christmas album/tire company biz: they issued Christmas album series for both Firestone and B F Goodrich through the sixties and early seventies.

The first three releases were available in mono only; the next three could be purchased in mono or stereo; and all subsequent were sold only in stereo. The RCA releases are definitely rarer than the Columbia releases and may not have been released as widely.

Although the bulk of the recordings used to make each LP were taken from existing Christmas albums by the individual artists, there were individual tracks that were commissioned especially for each album. It's a shame that, unlike CD releases of the separate artists' Christmas albums, many of these tracks will probably never be properly released. We can only hope that they are languishing in a vault somewhere and may turn up unexpectedly on one of those bargain bin collections that appear each year.

Since so many of us have memories of those albums which were most likely lost long ago to a garage sale, I'll try to note where those tracks are currently available on CD or as downloads from Amazon or iTunes.

As I've done my research, I've uncovered some "oddballs and tidbits" along the way in the Goodyear Christmas Album history. I'll share those as well, and input is most welcome.

This website is strictly a labor of love from one who grew up with these records being part & parcel of the Christmas season. Have a look, have a laugh, and maybe you'll even say, "Hey I remember that."

(Disclaimer: all information contained herein is based on my own research. Content is not affiliated with the Goodyear, Columbia/CBS/Sony, RCA/BMG, or any other corporation referenced. Clarifications, comments, and contrary evidence is welcome in the interest of making this reference material viable to any interested party.)