Sunday, November 21, 2010

A buried treasure

Today I was so jazzed from having sorted out my records that I went and listened, for the first time, to that Christmas record I was admiring yesterday. The one with the classic cover, pictured above.

What a kick! It is far and away my favorite Christmas record.

I looked on YouTube and someone has posted "Deck the Halls."  If that does not bring back the era of the silver screen in all its glory! I love how the tune suddenly veers into a whole different mood, the way it does at 1:20, around there. It is like "Gone With the Wind."

The arrangements are by the conductor, Carmen Dragon.

What is funny is, working on this book on Leonard Pennario as I am, a record like this makes me understand more where Pennario was coming from, being the pianist on the Capitol label. It would definitely make some stuffy people see you differently than if you were on one of the more "establishment" labels. Oiks and eggheads would just see a record of Pennario playing, say, Schumann's F Minor Piano Sonata and they would go, uh, I don't think so.

They lose! We know better now.

Carmen Dragon, pops conductor and arranger, was a big presence at Capitol. He was also a big presence in Hollywood. For one thing he wrote the score to "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

I looked up a picture of Carmen Dragon and found this snapshot.

Here is his very Catholic-looking gravestone.

Carmen Dragon rests in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery so, bingo, I guess he was Catholic. Did I really write "Bingo"? An appropriate choice of word there. 

If you are into cemeteries the way I am, there is this great site that tells you about the other faithful departed that rest along with Carmen Dragon in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery. Among them are Ritchie Valens; Ed Begley Sr.; the actor who played Fred Mertz on "I Love Lucy," and Bob Hope. I had not known Bob Hope was Catholic. I also had not known who played Fred Mertz. His name is William Frawley.

Live and learn!

Or should I say, live and listen.


  1. ...and Carmen produced Daryl Dragon better known as the Captain of "The Captain and Tennille".

  2. Liz, I just saw this... sorry I did not respond earlier!! I had no idea about the "Captain and Tenille" connection! Who knew? I once had a roommate who told me, "Mary, popular culture escapes you completely." Guess that's true! We will have to do a follow-up.