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A Doc Holiday

Doc Severinson. I haven't thought about the good doctor in years. As musical director of The Tonight Show in its heyday, he presided over the hippest band on TV (sorry Merv) with swinging and sometimes sweet trumpet.

Anyway, I am thinking about Doc now having just gotten the note that he will give what is billed as his last TV performance on a holiday special on WISN TV Milwaukee Dec. 19.

Unbeknownst (what kind of word is that?) to me, Doc has been the primary pops conductor of an MSO for many years. In this case, though, we're not talking about a cable operator, but the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

The 79-year-old Severinson is planning to retire to Mexico with his wife to start the new year, but will blow his horn for this last TV gig with a rendition of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

Having just heard that 12-year-old off-ABC phenom belt out a version that was all vocal gymnastics and amp-blowing power but had none of the melancholy that drives the song, I would like to hear a version that will have all the wistful, almost ironic, subtext of the original.

It was about a Christmas whose merryness was alloyed by the fact that it probably was going to be miserable–it wasn't, but then that was Hollywood in the 1940's, where every cloud was issued with a silver lining attached.

It won't be a miserable Christmas next year without Severinson, who has appeared on the WISN special the past several years, but it will lack some of the sparkle that danced on his horn or blazed off those trademark spangly suits.

Take another little piece of my TV heart, now baby.

By John Eggerton