Friday, December 20, 2013

"Daddy's Driniking Up Our Christmas!"… And Other Great Seasonal Vibes!

The gift that kept on giving until it is left on the car's dashboard.

There was a time when cassettes were all the rage. Maybe, to understand it, is to remember the convenience of having ninety minutes of uninterrupted music at your disposal. No album to flip over or replay. You could cram both sides of three entire albums on one tape. You could design your own play list, overdub, overlap, fade in, fade out, make poignant statements politically, socially, musically, emotionally, comically… whatever.

It all seems so silly and insignificant nowadays, but...

There was a time, I'd take my date to a movie and afterward, have dinner at the hippest hamburger joint in New Orleans, The Ground Patti. It was so cool to snuggle in your "CPO" next to a roaring fire and listen to uninterrupted tunes on a reel to reel tape machine. And, as a twenty year old, eating there was a definite upgrade from Burger King!

Ah, the simple pleasures…

Years later, much to the disdain of many of my musically sophisticated friends who just hated Christmas music, save one or two songs from their childhood, I made cassettes of Christmas music. I made them with all kinds of music from the baroque to ultimate classics like Nat King Cole's, "Christmas Song," which has to be in my top twenty five songs ever.

Eugene Rappolo's version of Judy Garland's," Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," is also one of my favorite tunes. "Stax/Volt's" collection of risqué and raunchy, tunes like"Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'"and the country corn tear jerkers like "Daddy's Drinking Up Our Christmas!"were just a sample of the kind of tunes I'd record to tape.

As a part of the fun of giving these thank you gifts to my clients, was creating, along with the discography, the artwork for the cassette holders. I enjoyed creating them for my collection whether it was a cassette of Beatles hits or a Christmas concept of all "Silent Night" tunes. I made a Cajun Christmas cover, a Country Christmas with Santa's tip of the hat, and a Black and White Christmas, which had "white" Christmas tunes on one side and soulful, rhythm and blues and doo wop tunes on the other side. I thought juxtaposing Bing's, "White Christmas" with the Drifter's version was pretty illuminating, as well as, entertaining.

Some disagreed. They didn't appreciate the visual of a split Christmas tree, black on one side and white on the other. C'est la vie!

There was a time, I feared that I'd run out of Christmas material, but after a dozen years of gift giving, the technology changed and beat me to the need to find new ideas. In a way, I sort of, lost interest.

Also, by that time, the culture and how we connected and worked together had changed. The computer made it unnecessary to physically be in the agency interacting with creatives like art directors, production people, account execs and designers. It was time to move on...

But, I still have my original cassettes and, here's a picture of some of the artwork I created in those crazy, conceptual, cassette days.

Copyright 2013/ Ben Bensen III

*Some folks asked me for the url to the title of this blog, so here it is: Quick get out the hankies!

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