DEAR JERRY: During a recent get-together at a friend's house, we played a little trivia game, one that we just made up on the spot.
We didn't give it a name, but here's the way it works:
Once a field of music and time period is agreed by everyone, someone begins by naming a hit song title that begins with the letter “A.” If they do it, the next person has to name one beginning with “B,” and so on through the alphabet, going in the same order. After “Z” comes “A” again.
Our rules prohibit repeating a title already used, so as you go through a few times, it gets more difficult to think of ones that begin with letters like “Q” and “Z,” for example.
If someone comes up with one you doubt exists, you can challenge it. If you're right, they're out. If you lose the challenge, you're out. We usually solve disputes with some online research.
Anyone who fails to name one within 60 seconds is out. The last one standing wins.
Now that you know what we're doing, the problem you can help us with is the dreaded letter “X.”
The ONLY title any of knows for that letter is “Xanadu,” by Olivia Newton-John and the Electric Light Orchestra.
Can you supply any other X-titles?
Nick Shearer, Murray, Ky.
DEAR NICK: Who said there is nothing to do in Murray on a Friday night?
Just for you and your clever little game, we have re-opened the X-Files. From highly classified documents, I can only double the number of X-titles you now have.
A No. 1 C&W hit in 1994 for Trisha Yearwood is “XXXs and OOOs (An American Girl), and a 1948 Top 10 R&B hit, by Camille Howard, is“X-Temperaneous Boogie.”
You may need to expand the fields of music and time period covered (1948 to 1994), but, along with “Xanadu,” that will give you three nationally charted X-titles. If you ever open the game to X-tunes that did not become hits, then I can add 20 or 30 more.
For variety, you can always switch to recording artists' names, movie or TV titles and performers, syndicated music columnists, etc.
Since you have not yet named your game one that I believe has x-cellent party potential let me suggest one that considers both the sudden death rule and the odds against surviving for player four, and beyond, stuck with that dreaded “X.”
How about X-Termination?
DEAR JERRY: The instrumental of “Wonderland By Night” was a huge hit, but around the same time there was a vocal of it by a female singer.
I think the words are great, but have never found any reference anywhere, other than to the instrumental version.
What can you tell me about the vocal I recall?
John Ziemer, via e-mail
DEAR JOHN: The songbird you heard doing “Wonderland By Night” is Anita Bryant. Her 1960 recording made the Top 20, so it certainly should not be overlooked by any authoritative music reference source. It came on the heels of Anita's two Top 10 hits that year, “Paper Roses” and “In My Little Corner of the World.”
Not one but two orchestras had hit instrumentals of “Wonderland By Night,” one by Bert Kaempfert, another by Louis Prima. Both made their chart debut the same week, November 14, 1960. Anita Bryant hit Billboard on December 5th.
For Elvis Presley's 25th birthday, January 8, 1960, Bert Kaempfert's “Wonderland By Night” bumped “Are You Lonesome Tonight” from the No. 1 position. That week also found Louis Prima and Anita Bryant in the Top 20, thus 15% of that select list is devoted to “Wonderland By Night.”
IZ ZAT SO? At age 18, Anita Bryant first became Miss Tulsa, then Miss Oklahoma, and on to the boardwalk of Atlantic City, where she took Second Runner-Up as Miss America 1958. The top honor that year went to to Miss Colorado, Marilyn Van Derbur.