My father-in-law cornered me at family get-together not long ago.
"I was watching a rerun of a 1960 Lawrence Welk show yesterday," he told me, "and, you know, the thing wasn't a bit dated; the songs hadn't aged a bit."There are those who feel Lawrence Welk never caught up with the times long enough even to be considered "contemporary" - but I knew what the man was getting at. As far as feelings, traditions and values go, the lyrics on Welk produce the same sentiment now as they always have.
And you could probably say the same thing about the Oak Ridge Boys and Marie Osmond concert at the Salt Palace on Saturday.
The Oaks, dressed in outfits that seemed to have come from a 1940 sleigh ride, and Marie in her girlish dresses, brought back all the old chestnuts of Christmas with the freshness of all outdoors.
You could even say they sang up a storm - as flakes fell on stage for a good share of the three-hour show.
Marie opened with "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," "Holy Night" and "Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland," then turned the stage over to her 7-year-old son Stephen, who mugged and strutted through some cute rock-a-billy numbers.
Back on stage - changed from red to white - Marie then offered up a few of her hits, the high point being a set of duets with her lead guitarist on "You're Still New to Me" and "Meet Me in Montana."
She also called a middle-aged math teacher on stage from the audience and serenaded him with "Crazy," making him the envy of math teachers everywhere.
Some Osmond family home movies added to the nostalgia, as did a touching tribute to her parents, who were in the audience.
The Oaks - a little grayer and more mellow these days - took the stage after an intermission. They did their big songs first ("Elvira," "Dream On," "American Made," etc.) broke to change outfits, then returned with what was to be a lively and - in the end - very moving Christmas "program."
Santa even showed, and earned a serenade of his own - an Oak Ridge barbershop version of "Sweet Adeline." Exhibit of the lyrics follows:
Sweet Santa Claus, my Santa Claus
Through ice and snow
You "ho, ho, ho"
Bringing lots of toys
To us Oak Ridge Boys.
The strongest part of the set was the gospel-carol section where the four singers dug up their Tennessee roots, and returned to the fine gospel harmonies and spiritual tunes that first brought them to America's attention. Numbers ranged from "The First Noel" to their own big hit "Thank God for Kids."
Marie came back on stage for a blockbuster finish of "Silent Night" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
In all, it was the kind of Christmas show you don't see much anymore, full of sometimes sappy, sometimes very touching moments and heartfelt singing. It's the kind of thing plays well in both New York and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
My father-in-law would have loved it.