I Can Die a Happy Man

When I was a kid I had this 45 I used to listen to a lot—it was a novelty song about a guy who finds a mysterious box on the beach. It tantalized me, probably because it frightened me a little, too, and I listened to it obsessively until I outgrew it at some point.  I lost the record while I was still a kid and I forgot all about it until 10 or 15 years ago, when I stumbled across my dusty old copy of another childhood favorite, Kenny Ball’s “Midnight in Moscow”, and it caused me to suddenly remember the song about the box—but I didn’t know who did it, couldn’t remember any of its lyrics, and my best guess at its title was a Googly unfruitful “The Box”.  I only recalled that the singer talk-sang the lyrics and that there seemed to be something about sand in it.

Then about a half hour ago I was sitting here watching Solaris, of all the fucking things, and something in it, I don’t even know what, triggered the tune in my head, and this time I was able to conjure up the first line: “I was walking down the beach one bright and sunny day”. So I Googled that + “box”, and lo and behold up popped…“The Thing”, by Phil Harris. (He was a pop fixture in the ’50s and ’6os; if he’s remembered today, it’s probably for his voice work in The Jungle Book.) Weird thing is, “The Thing” was a hit in 1950, four years before I was even born, and I was at least four when I was listening to it so much. Whatever, man—I’m just happy to scratch it off the list. From Wikipedia:

The song aired on radio concurrently with a series of teaser ads which ran weekly in Collier’s promoting Howard Hawks’ science fiction movie, The Thing from Another World. The Hawks film was released April 6, 1951. While the song had no connection with the movie, some suspect it was a clever marketing tool to increase interest in seeing the film.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, I give you “The Thing”. Don’t say I never did anything for you.

And what the hell…since it’s a song I actually still dig.

One Response to “I Can Die a Happy Man”

  1. Armed with Truth Says:

    Interesting oldies. Thanks for sharing this. The thing especially made me smile and laugh a little. The second one makes me think of dancing with my dad as a kid. 🙂

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