What's this? A piece of toast? A pretzel stick? Popcorn?
November 28, 2019 9:25 AM   Subscribe

In the coming onslaught of Christmas music, the Vince Guaraldi Trio's "A Charlie Brown Christmas" figures large as both a popular and critical favorite. But Guaraldi doesn't get enough love for the equally excellent music of "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving," with its groovier early 70s sound. Here for your USian celebrating enjoyment are a few of the songs Guaraldi wrote for the 3rd animated TV special featuring Charlie Brown: Thanksgiving Theme, Little Birdie, Is It James or Charlie?, Charlie Brown Blues, and a sightly different setting of Linus and Lucy than the more familiar Christmas-special one. Or just set it and forget it with the complete soundtrack. posted by Miko (14 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
Little Birdie: Great song, or the greatest song?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:53 AM on November 28, 2019 [8 favorites]

Much, much more than merely "the Peanuts guy," Guaraldi cut his jazz teeth as a member of combos fronted by Cal Tjader and Woody Herman, and garnered Top 40 fame with his Grammy Award–winning hit, "Cast Your Fate to the Wind." He spent most of the 1950s and early '60s as a sideman, then began fronting his own trios and combos in order to refine the gentle, bossa nova sound that soon characterized his early compositions. His collaboration with Brazilian guitarist Bola Sete made them a can't-miss act for two years in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

He perhaps would not be remembered today without the Peanuts soundtrack work, but yeah, he was a pretty solid Bay Area jazz pianist.. I believe he got hired as a sub by Miles Davis once, even.
posted by thelonius at 9:55 AM on November 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oh yes and also enjoy his deeply, fantastically groovy version of You Can't Always Get What You Want.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 11:13 AM on November 28, 2019 [5 favorites]

In the coming onslaught of Christmas music...

The very phrase sends trickles of dread hushing down my spine. Must you?
posted by Armed Only With Hubris at 11:35 AM on November 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

According to this list of all 45 Peanuts specials ranked, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is ranked only #13. (A Charlie Brown Christmas is #1 and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is #2.) That makes sense; I never did care for the bullying in this one (they basically force Charlie to make the dinner and then complain about it).
posted by Melismata at 1:13 PM on November 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yeah, if I ever responded to an AskMe question with “It’s your fault, because you’re so wishy-washy!” it would probably be deleted in like 3, maybe 4 minutes tops.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 3:03 PM on November 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Well, it was a strip of allegory about modern neuroses and social dysfunction, so.
posted by Miko at 3:30 PM on November 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

Every year, the kid has a plate of toast, pretzel sticks, jelly beans, and popcorn (super cheesy!) on Thanksgiving night.
posted by NoMich at 5:01 PM on November 28, 2019 [7 favorites]

[insert Peanuts dance here]
posted by not_on_display at 8:52 PM on November 28, 2019 [5 favorites]

Ooooh thanks for this! Not being American I didn't know there was a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special. Love love love the Linus and Lucy tube, looking forward to checking these out after work.
posted by freethefeet at 9:20 PM on November 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Only vaguely related in the sense that it's jazzy music composed for an animated special, but I always liked Herbie Hancock's Fat Albert Rotunda a lot, particularly the opening song, Wiggle Waggle.
posted by juv3nal at 10:08 PM on November 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

wah waaah wah wah waah waah wah
posted by chavenet at 3:30 AM on November 29, 2019

I like the Thanksgiving one because it is a sold 50% of Snoopy hijinks meant to pad the simple story out to 30 minutes. My one complaint is that much of those hijinks Snoopy is as sour as Lucy, and there should have been some smiles to balance out the kids' story. Like when Snoopy is helping Woodstock up the too-tall steps.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:15 AM on November 29, 2019 [3 favorites]

The Charlie Brown Christmas album is one of only two albums of holiday music that are good listening any time of year. (The other is Low's "Christmas". Fight me.)

Guaraldi's other compositions (that is, the ones I've heard, which are probably not even most of them) are all solid but they don't have the same spark of joy that his Peanuts soundtracks have. I don't know whether he felt like he was dumbing down his work for kids while reducing them to essential melodies and rhythms, but they feel like the work of, well, not a different person, but somebody with different goals in mind.

The 60s and 70s were a magic time for music for kids. There was a lot of absolute drivel but at the same time people like Guaraldi, Herbie Hancock, and Bob Dorough (and the many people he brought along with him for the Schoolhouse Rock soundtracks) were making smart, timeless stuff that everyone can enjoy.
posted by ardgedee at 8:37 AM on November 29, 2019 [5 favorites]

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