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A lot of what has made the Charlie Brown TV adaptations classics since they first aired in the 1960s and 1970s is the distinctive, largely instrumental, jazz score that has become synonymous with the animated shows and films.
We may not know the names of the songs — but we know many of the catchy tunes, especially “Linus and Lucy,” which was first featured in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and is now considered the Peanuts theme song. The writer of the music for the Peanuts specials was jazz musician Vince Guaraldi, who died at age 47 in 1976.
So it’s a joy to bask in even more of his Peanuts music on the newly released 50th-anniversary soundtrack for “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” This is the first time the full soundtrack has been available.
The album has the original 13 songs from the TV special and nine alternate versions or bonuses. For example, there is the original “Thanksgiving Theme” plus three “reprises” and a quick 10-second “alternate” version where you hear Guaraldi declare he keeps “blowing it” before he pounds out a few rapid bars of the song. The original half-minute “Thanksgiving Interlude” is included with four other takes.
You can listen to all of them in the “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” playlist, which is available on YouTube and starts with the “Charlie Brown Blues” video below.
It’s fun to hear different riffs on these well-loved songs, as well as Guaraldi and his fellow musicians chatting as they record, warming up and counting down to the songs.
Guaraldi recorded the Thanksgiving-themed soundtrack with a quintet, including himself, drummer Mike Clark, electric bassist Seward McCain, trumpeter Tom Harrell and trombonist Chuck Bennett.
As WRTI explains, Guaraldi had created a “funkier sonic palette” between his first Peanuts Christmas-themed soundtrack in 1965 and the Thanksgiving special in 1973. So, you’ll hear Wurlitzer, Fender Rhodes and Clavinet pianos along with some whistling. You’ll also hear Guaraldi himself singing on “Little Birdie.”
You can stream and download the 50th anniversary “A Charlie Brownie Thanksgiving” album online through services like Spotify, Amazon Music and the iTunes Store. But the LP and CD have bonus photos and liner notes from the son of Peanuts producer Lee Mendelson. Sean Mendelson explains all the tracks.
The full ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ soundtrack, with bonuses, is finally out originally appeared on Simplemost.
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