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Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas Music

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Yesterday I covered Alternative Christmas Tunes, including pointers to the Vince Guaraldi's soundtrack for "A Charlie Brown Christmas." But there's a great story behind Guaraldi's soundtrack -- the jazzy sound almost prevented "A Charlie Brown Christmas" from making it to air, due to the network's preference for traditional Christmas music. Kara blogged about the story behind A Charlie Brown Christmas on Wednesday, and I thought I'd point _floss readers to the Guaraldi angle on story in time to check out his music for this Christmas season.

In 2006, NPR produced a great story about Vince Guaraldi's involvement in "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Check out Behind Guaraldi's Timeless Holiday Soundtrack for an engaging history of this classic recording. Here's a sample from the story:

CBS "didn't think jazz fit properly," Mendelson recalls. The network also wanted professional child actors to do the voices of the characters, not the untrained youngsters Mendelson recruited.

He says the network also objected to the adult themes; they didn't think the topics of materialism and faith were appropriate for children.

Despite their concerns and after a few cosmetic changes, CBS aired the program. It was a hit.

Mendelson and Melendez went on to do 50 Charlie Brown specials, the most recent being last year's He's a Bully, Charlie Brown.

Guaraldi collaborated on 17 shows before he died suddenly at age 43 in 1976 — too early to see his songs become modern symbols of the holiday.

More stories on the topic: 'Charlie Brown Christmas' Keeps Giving, 'Great Pumpkin' Marks 40 Years on TV, 'A Charlie Brown Christmas': A Jewish Tradition?, and Wikipedia on A Charlie Brown Christmas (album).

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Animals
Australian Charity Releases Album of Cat-Themed Ballads to Promote Feline Welfare
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An Australian animal charity is helping save the nation’s kitties one torch song at a time, releasing a feline-focused musical album that educates pet owners about how to properly care for their cats.

Around 35,000 cats end up in pounds, shelters, and rescue programs every year in the Australian state of New South Wales, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Microchipping and fixing cats, along with keeping closer tabs on them, could help reduce this number. To get this message out, the RSPCA’s New South Wales chapter created Cat Ballads: Music To Improve The Lives Of Cats.

The five-track recording is campy and fur-filled, with titles like "Desex Me Before I Do Something Crazy" and "Meow Meow." But songs like “I Need You” might tug the heartstrings of ailurophiles with lyrics like “I guess that’s goodbye then/but you’ve done this before/the window's wide open/and so’s the back door/you might think I’m independent/but you’d be wrong.” There's also a special version of the song that's specifically designed for cats’ ears, featuring purring, bird tweets, and other feline-friendly noises.

Together, the tunes remind us how vulnerable our kitties really are, and provide a timely reminder for cat owners to be responsible parents to their furry friends.

“The Cat Ballads campaign coincides with kitten season, which is when our shelters receive a significantly higher number of unwanted kittens as the seasons change,” Dr. Jade Norris, a veterinary scientist with the RSPCA, tells Mental Floss. “Desexing cats is a critical strategy to reduce unwanted kittens.”

Listen to a song from Cat Ballads below, and visit the project’s website for the full rundown.

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technology
ABBA Is Going on Tour—As Holograms
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Missed your chance to watch ABBA perform live at the peak of their popularity? You’re in luck: Fans will soon be able to see the group in concert in all their chart-topping, 1970s glory—or rather, they’ll be able to see their holograms. As Mashable reports, a virtual version of the Swedish pop band is getting ready to go on tour.

ABBA split up in 1982, and the band hasn't been on tour since. (Though they did get together for a surprise reunion performance in 2016.) All four members of ABBA are still alive, but apparently not up for reentering the concert circuit when they can earn money on a holographic tour from the comfort of their homes.

The musicians of ABBA have already had the necessary measurements taken to bring their digital selves to life. The final holograms will resemble the band in the late 1970s, with their images projected in front of physical performers. Part of the show will be played live, but the main vocals will be lifted from original ABBA records and recordings of their 1977 Australian tour.

ABBA won’t be the first musical act to perform via hologram. Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Dean Martin have all been revived using the technology, but this may be one of the first times computerized avatars are standing in for big-name performers who are still around. ABBA super-fans will find out if “SOS” still sounds as catchy from the mouths of holograms when the tour launches in 2019.

[h/t Mashable]

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