Jazz up your holidays with a free podcast from CBC Music: Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas! featuring WireTap's Jonathan Goldstein as narrator, in a new musical setting by Josh Rager for a trio of jazz musicians and a chorus of 200 kids, recorded in front of a live audience at the CBC/McGill Series in Montreal.
This podcast is only available during the 12 days of Christmas, so spread the word and make sure to download your own copy right here (right click and save) from Dec. 24, 2012 to Jan. 6, 2013.
Unable to contain their enthusiasm for the release of our Grinch, some colleagues over at Canada Writes recently held a two-week "Seusstivus" celebration (including a pretty intense Twitter challenge) inspired by Dr. Seuss. The following is from their Q&A with Goldstein — "It's good to be a Grinch."
What's your first memory of Dr. Seuss?
There was a wall of his books in my elementary school library. There was a feeling about them, an approachability, that made me feel like reading was within my grasp. They might have been the first books I’d ever discovered that didn’t intimidate me. That changed the way I felt about reading. I realized there didn’t have to be this low hum of anxiety that went along with it.
And I remember tearing through them in what was probably my first experience of feeling bookish. I remember finding Green Eggs and Ham really weird and even at five, really annoying. But The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins struck me as a work of genius. What a concept! I thought about all those hats a lot, and even that name, Bartholomew. Whenever someone asked me my name, or I was writing a story, that was the name I’d use. I thought it was just perfectly absurd. Now that I think of it, I think my liking of that name was the beginnings of developing what you might call an aesthetic sensibility.
And of course, Dr. Seuss instilled in me a love of rhyme and, in good time, gangsta rap.
What do you appreciate most about Dr. Seuss?
The imaginativeness. The way he created a whole universe. And then, out of that universe to create such sentiment. Like Oh, The Places you’ll Go!. So unexpectedly moving considering it comes from such a silly place, a place you don’t expect to find such humanity. Whenever I read that book it always manages to choke me up.
Also that he could write and draw. Double threat. I wish I could do that.
What was your reaction when you were asked to play the Grinch in the new CBC/McGill production?
To being onstage with a choir of over 200 kids? From way back in my vaudeville days, I’d sworn I’d never work with animals or children. By which I mean to say it was the role I was born to play.
What specific convictions did you have about what your Grinch would be like?
Well, the Grinch didn’t seem like such a bad guy to me. He speaks in well crafted rhyming couplets and, unlike the citizens of Whoville — a bunch of hand-holding joiners — he remains true to himself, on the margins, speaking truth to power. Plus, he’s a pet owner. Perhaps even a vegetarian, for the idea of the Whos eating "roast beast" sickens him. Much like Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost, the Grinch strikes me as the story’s secret hero and that was something I wanted to come across.
What do you think you bring to the character?
Sympathy. I mean, Christmas can be a particularly lonesome time of the year for people. I imagine that if you are green and live on top of a mountain it’s got to be particularly rough.
For inspiration, I listened to Boris Karloff’s reading of The Grinch from the 1960s cartoon. He recorded it near the end of his life and his performance has a rich and warm melancholy to it. While my voice certainly has its own kind of melancholy, it’s more the whiny, accusatory kind.
I've been told this my whole life and it holds no less true today: I am no Boris Karloff.
What will you be up to on Dec. 25 when your version of The Grinch airs on CBC Radio?
I think I’ll be visiting friends I haven’t seen all year. They live out on the tip of Long Island. But the night before I’ll be in New York and might go to this Chinese restaurant where an organization of Jews and Chinese are putting on an event called “Lox and Woks.” Jews, Xmas and Chinese food is a time-honoured tradition.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! will also be heard throughout the land as part of Goldstein, Frankincense and Myrrh, a Christmas Day special hosted by Jonathan "J-Seuss" Goldstein on CBC Radio One (1 p.m./1:30 p.m. NT), CBC Radio 2 (3 p.m./3:30 p.m. NT) and Sirius Satellite Radio, channel 159 (2 p.m. AT; 1 p.m. ET; 12 p.m. CT; 11 a.m. MT; 10 a.m. PT).
Playing the Grinch: Josh Rager riffs on Dr. Seuss
2012 CBC/McGill Youth Choir Gala [audio]
The CBC/McGill Series
CBC Radio One holiday programming schedule 2012
CBC Radio 2 holiday programming schedule 2012
The CBC Christmas Sing-In
on Dec 21, 2012