TIN PAN ALLEY: Let's Run It up the Fir Tree

"On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me," sing the carolers—and then everything goes haywire. "Four bars of soap," they trill, "three cans of peas, two breakfast foods, and some toothpaste on a pear tree." Later, they launch into another holiday favorite: "Dashing through the snow in a 50-foot coupe." They stop to admire a cigarette-ad Santa Claus with a tattoo on each arm—one reading "Merry Christmas," the other "Less Tar"—and then jangle through Jingle Bells with a cash register clanking in the background.

Anyone buying a new Capitol 45-r.p.m. record titled Green Chri$tma$ can study...