Who is Parson Brown?

…and why are building snowmen in his likeness?

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The original recording was by Richard Himber and his Hotel Ritz-Carlton Orchestra on RCA Bluebird in 1934. At the end of a recording session with time to spare, it was suggested that this new tune be tried with an arrangement provided by the publisher. This excellent “studio” orchestra included many great New York studio musicians including the legendary Artie Shaw. The biggest chart hit at the time of introduction was Guy Lombardo’s orchestra, a top ten hit. Singer-songwriter Johnny Mercer took the song to #4 in Billboard’s airplay chart in 1946. The same season, Perry Como hit the retail top ten. Como would record a new version for his 1959 Christmas album.

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The bridge of the song contains the following lyrics:
“In the meadow we can build a snowman,
then pretend that he is Parson Brown.
He’ll say ‘Are You Married?’ We’ll say ‘No man,
but you can do the job while you’re in town!’”
In the period when this song was written, parsons (now known as Protestant ministers) often traveled among small rural towns to perform wedding ceremonies for denominational followers who did not have a local minister of their own faith.

 

 

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