By Jim Schutze
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By Lauren Drewes Daniels
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While there, the reformed trio also recorded some extra tracks: One, a version of "Fly Me to the Moon," would end up on the CD version of A Boy Named Charlie Brown; the other, "Greensleeves," appears as a bonus track on the Charlie Brown Christmas disc. Which means that Bailey and Budwig's contributions do indeed appear in the special, just not on the record--save, of course, for "Greensleeves."
As if that's not confusing enough, Mendelson's son Glenn (whose sixth-grade class provided the vocals for "Christmas Time is Here") says two other musicians also laid down some tracks for the TV special, bassist Eugene Firth and drummer Paul Distel. Indeed, they're the only two players Guaraldi listed in a studio-session report he had to file with the American Federation of Musicians, which insisted on such formalities for television recordings. All of which means there are perhaps no less than three different bands contributing music to the actual cartoon. But only three musicians perform on the so-called "original sound track" to the CBS special: Guaraldi, Marshall, and Granelli.
"We have no way of knowing who played on what," Belmont says. "It's unclear...who played on the TV show. There's three or four different collections of personnel, and no one knows, since Vince is dead. That's all I can tell you. I hate this crap."
OK, so it's a little confusing and frustrating, especially when talking to Colin Bailey, who to this day believes he and the late Monty Budwig appear on the record. "There's nothing much really to tell about the recording," Bailey says. "It was simple, but it was fun. Vince was never serious. It was always loose. It was a happy thing. Everybody was laughing. It was always like that with Vince. And thank God the kids get to hear something good on television. The shit they listen to now is all brain-dead. It's good to have something that may jolt them toward a better life."
Bailey--who went on to record the music for It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and a few other specials--says he didn't even know the album existed in any form until "several years ago." He and his wife were shopping in a Bay Area record store when she heard what sounded like Guaraldi's music playing on the store speakers and asked the clerk what that was from. He told her it was A Charlie Brown Christmas. The couple purchased a copy, only to see Colin's name listed in the credits. He was surprised to learn of the disc's existence, even more shocked when he realized he had never received a penny in royalties from Fantasy. "But like everything else in the music business," he says, "the musicians are always the last to find out about anything."
Including the fact that they don't play on records they're listed on. When informed that the brand-new copies of A Charlie Brown Christmas and Charlie Brown's Holiday Hits list Marshall and Granelli as the primary band, Bailey balks. "Fantasy must have screwed it up," he says. "They're notorious for having the wrong information."
Of course, none of this bickering diminishes the album's stature. It's just a reminder that even grown-ups can act like children at the most wonderful time of the year. Charlie Brown might actually understand. The poor schlub never got credit for anything he did, either.