West: OK, where are my Christmas CDs?

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I'm sorry, disagree with you all you want, but "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is still one of my favorite Christmas tunes.

And why is that?

First of all, it is light-hearted especially when compared to traditional Christmas songs or hymns like the "First Noel" or "Silent Night." Sure, those songs are beautiful and melodic. Other popular songs are downright depressing.

"Rudolph" is downright peppy. That can't be helped no matter who sings it.

Of course, my favorite version is by Gene Autry, the singing cowboy. He recorded it in 1938. And yes, that was certainly before my time, but Gene hit his second heyday back in the 1950s during the early days of TV.

Back in those days, you could count on seeing Gene and Roy Rogers on television most Saturday afternoons. Heck, you can still catch both of them in all their black and white glory on Saturday on the Encore channel. And yes, occasionally I still see Gene on Saturdays when I can slip it past the other TV watchers.

Once upon a time, my late Father was a great Gene Autry fan. On Saturdays, back in his younger days, Pa managed to catch a few cowboy serials at the old Rialto Theater in downtown Woodbury.

Then came the day that Gene and his wonder horse, Champion, visited Woodbury to promote one of Autry's films.

Champion was an amazing horse even to a country boy used to riding horses and mules. Dark sorrel in color, Champion had a T-shaped blaze starting high on his forehead.

Billed as the "Wonder Horse of the West," Champion could do all sorts of tricks like untie knows, roll over and play dead, bow and shake his head "yes" and "no."

Yep, Gene demonstrated all of Champion's tricks that day in Woodbury to the excitement of young-sters, like Pa, and adults.

Can you imagine Brad Pitt (or any famous movie actor) appearing just off the Square in Woodbury and performing for an audience? Didn't think you could.

Well it happened and hearing that story over and again brought Gene Autry to score some reality in my young eyes.

So maybe that's why "Rudolph" still shines in my eyes? Who knows?

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" has emerged over the last 60 years as one of the biggest hit records of all time. "Rudolph" is the second all-time best selling Christmas single of all times with more than 30 millions in sales. It was only topped by Bing Crosby's "White Christmas."

"Rudolph" was created back in 1939 by Rudolph by Robert L. May and published for Montgomery Ward.

At its height, the original Montgomery Ward was one of the largest retailers in the United States and well known for its Christmas "Wish Book."

Gene had another big Christmas hit "Here Comes Santa Claus." Gene wrote this one himself inspired by the children's yells he heard during an annual Christmas Parade in Los Angeles. It was another "platinum" hit just like his Easter record, "Peter Cottontail" that went hopping down the hit trail.

This leaves only one question:

Where the heck are my Christmas CDs hidden? Somebody better cough them up or else!

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Mike West column
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