MICHAEL JACKSON AND THE STORY BEHIND “LITTLE CHRISTMAS TREE”

June 29, 2009

“It’s summer of 1973 and Ed Silvers, President of Warner Brothers Music, is losing his patience with me. He thinks I’m spending far too much time trying to get our songs cut at Motown. Although I secure songs in our catalog by some of their biggest artists, they’re only album cuts. Ed is convinced that I’ll never get a single released by Motown.

I know at this point that the only way I could have a chance for a hit and escape the wrath of Ed, is to get a cover by the Jackson 5 or little Michael. There was only one staff writer at Warner Brothers music who could write in a classic R+B style, George S. Clinton, Jr.

I go to the two producers who love George’s writing the most, Jerry Marcellino and Mel Larson, who just had big hits with 12 year old Michael on “Rockin’ Robin” and “Little Bitty Pretty One” (which was my suggestion). They tell me that “Ben”, from the movie of the same name, is racing up the charts and Berry Gordy wants each of his producers to start recording new sides with him.

I sit with Jerry and Mel and we talk about what kind of song they should record with Michael. I suggest a Christmas song, one so commercial that it could be the follow up single to, “Ben”. When I see their eyes light up, I tell them that George S. Clinton, Jr. and I have started such a song! When they ask to hear it, I tell them we were still working on it, when in fact we hadn’t even started! I can’t tell them the title, ’cause there isn’t any! I do tell them, however, that it’s a true story of how my girlfriend left me out in the cold like the last tree in a Christmas tree lot, which is left unsold on Christmas Eve. They freak out and say they had to have the finished song by Monday. I say, “No problem”

I call George, who knows nothing about any of this as soon as I get back to my office. He can’t believe I told them we’d have a finished song to them by Monday, when it’s Friday and we haven’t even started.

Saturday morning we meet at my office. It’s the middle of summer, about 90 degrees, but we have to get in a Christmas Mood. As I tell George about my break up with Diana last Christmas, then I start to throw Ivory Snowflakes around the room. Soon, we have the first verse and chorus.”

i2 year old michael

“Little Christmas Tree, looking sorta’ sad and lonely just like me

No one seems to care, they just went away and left him standing there…All alone on Christmas Eve!”

little

On Monday morning George does a piano voice demo, and I get it to Jerry and Mel that afternoon. They love it so much that they knock one of their own songs off the date and cut ours.

I’m almost in tears when I hear the finished record the following week with the news that it’s being considered for the follow-up to “Ben”, which had just hit number one! You can imagine how I feel a few weeks later when Berry Gordy, Jr. decides not put out any follow up to the Oscar nominated “Ben”, until the Academy Awards are given out…which is after Christmas! A few days later I come up with a plan and present it to Motown. I suggest that the company puts a double albums worth of previously recorded Christmas songs by each of their hit artists, along with “Little Christmas Tree”. The double album is called “A Motown Christmas”, which includes cuts by Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Diana Ross, and it’s released just in time for the holidays.”

“LITTLE CHRISTMAS TREE”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         George S. Clinton, Jr. and Artie Wayne

I watch the snowflakes fall
against my window plain
and wonder if you
are watching snowflakes too?
I take a walk downtown
to where you used to meet me
There’s joy everywhere
but all that waiting there is just a…

LITTLE CHRISTMAS TREE
Looking sorta’ sad and lonely just like me
No one seems to care
They just went away and left it standing there
All alone on Christmas eve

I hear the Christmas bells
The happy people singing
The songs of the chill that only brings me tears
I sadly close my eyes
and say a little prayer you’ll be waiting there for me
I look but all I see is

LITTLE CHRISTMAS TREE
Looking sorta’ sad and lonely just like me
No one seems to care
They just went away and left it standing there
All alone on Christmas eve

This is the season of love
(This is the season of love)
But I’m as sad as I can be
(sad as can be)
Why did you have to leave me
(Why did you leave me)
(Why did you leave me)

LITTLE CHRISTMAS TREE
Looking sorta sad and lonely just like me
No one seems to care

They just went away and left it standing there
All alone on Christmas eve

Copyright 1973/2009 by Warner Brothers Music

NOW YOU CAN BUY “LITTLE CHRISTMAS TREE” BY MICHAEL JACKSON IN THE JACKSON FIVE ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS ALBUM AVAILABLE AT AMAZON.COM

ultimate-christmas-collection1

If you liked “THE STORY BEHIND “LITTLE CHRISTMAS TREE”, please feel free to share it with a friend…but if you loved it, please feel free to send it to your entire address book! MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HANUKKAH, HAPPY KWANZA…ENJOY TO THE WORLD!

From Artie Wayne On The Web https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/about-artie-wayne/

Copyright 2011 by Artie Wayne http://artiewayne.com

 

YOU CAN BUY MY BOOK, “I DID IT FOR A SONG” (AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY FOR $9.99 BY CHECK OR MONEY ORDER TO ARTIE WAYNE P.O. BOX 1105 , DESERT HOT  SPRINGS CALIFORNIA, 92240 OR THROUGH  PAYPAL TO MY E-MAIL ADDRESS artiewayne@gmail.com

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22 Responses to “MICHAEL JACKSON AND THE STORY BEHIND “LITTLE CHRISTMAS TREE””

  1. Brooks Arthur Says:

    Artie,

    How priveleged are you to have Michael Jackson record your song: “Little Christmas Tree”

    Maximum respect!You always were a great songwriter.
    Brooks

  2. Art Munson Says:

    Hey Artie, Great story and hope they will re-release it for this Christmas!

  3. Denise Ferri Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this…It is so beautiful..I am cring right now…A blessing for you to have this precious Michael Jackson record your song…..what a great song….love,Denise

  4. deborah jackson Says:

    I MISS MICHAEL SO MUCH….IF ONLY……………..LET’S ALL TAKE A LOOK IN THE MIRROR AND MAKE A CHANGE.

  5. Ira Howard Says:

    I thought only Jewish composers wrote, heart-touching Christmas songs for the whole family.
    What a sad, sweet and beautiful tune superbly
    performed by the then young, all-time great.

  6. Annie Says:

    How beautiful. I know everyone here cares very much for how people will remember Michael. We need the truth about his innocence to come out. Visit mjtruthnow.com where there is proof of his innocence. When you sign up for the bulletin/newsletter there will be information on how you can help to restore integrity to the mainstream media that hurt Michael so much.

  7. varundbest Says:

    I was browsing to get a bunch of music videos for my party and just found out this post. I must say that you have done a wonderful effort. Thanks mate.

  8. blunethost Says:

    Michael Jackson is the best for me


  9. “It’s the middle of summer, about 90 degrees, but we have to get in a Christmas Mood.” Amazing story Artie, thanks for sharing!

  10. HomaLily Says:

    Hi Artie! Loved this article when I first read it and I still do! What a great story, and I love that song 🙂 The song and Michael’s voice were a match made in heaven….God blessed you both and the world as well 🙂

  11. Ed Salamon Says:

    You had a great idea to compile your Michael Jackson track with the other motown singles. Because of their availabilty, they got a lot of radio airplay around the holiday and presumably generated some revenues for the writers and publishers of those songs.

  12. Lenny Says:

    I’d never heard this before. great story, great song & performance. Love live MJ!

  13. Ellenor Kirkconnell Says:

    Artie–A GREAT song that I have played at my Twelfth Night Party for years. I think that Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” should step aside for this one. (I hate shoveling snow, but decorating and sharing a Christmas tree is the highlight of the season.) Thank you. Much love (and gratitude), Ellie

  14. Scott Blackerby Says:

    Interesting to read the song’s background. Love the blog. It frequently brings a smile to my face.

  15. Bobby Abrams Says:

    Very far out. Always filling in some unknown bit of rock history

  16. Jack Carone Says:

    Another great story, and I hope you go to the bank with this one!


  17. Thanks for any other wonderful post. Where else may anyone get that type of info in such an ideal manner of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I am at the look for such info.


  18. Hi I love your blog! May I repost your article on my blog? You mentioned we can share it but I wasn’t sure if you meant in print as well. Thanks for your consideration.


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