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December 1963 (Oh What a Night) by The Four Seasons

Album: Who Loves YouReleased: 1976Charted:
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  • According to the co-writer and longtime band member Bob Gaudio, the song was originally set in 1933 with the title "December 5th, 1933," and celebrated the repeal of Prohibition. Neither lead singer Frankie Valli nor co-writer (and Gaudio's wife) Judy Parker were thrilled about the lyrics - and Valli objected to parts of the melody - so Gaudio redid the words and Parker redid the melody until all were content with the finished product. It ended up being a nostalgic love song.
  • The group had to play down the sexual overtones in this song to appease conservative radio stations, but lead singer Frankie Valli later admitted that the song was "about losing your cherry" - a guy having sex for the first time. It's a similar theme to the Shirelles hit "Will You Love Me Tomorrow."
  • The lead singer on the first verse was their drummer Gerri Polci - Frankie Valli comes in on the second verse. As well as sharing the lead in "December 1963," Polci was the lead singer on the group's third hit from the Who Loves You LP, "Silver Star," which hit #38 in the US.
  • Their fifth and final #1 hit in the US, this was the only Four Seasons recording to top the UK charts.
  • The Four Seasons had a series of hits from 1962-1968. In 1975, they returned to the charts with "Who Loves You," which hit #3 in the US. "December 1963" was the follow-up to that song.
  • A dance remix version hit #14 US in 1994, introducing the song to a new generation. The remix stayed in the Top 40 for a stunning 20 weeks, and if combined with the 15 weeks the original spent on the chart, the song has had the longest stay on the Top 40. Valli, however, is not a fan of the new version. He told Billboard: "I'll never like it better than when it was pure."
  • When this hit US #1 in 1976, it made The Four Seasons the only artist in history to have #1 songs before (several), during ("Rag Doll") and after the Beatles. (thanks, Dan - Buffalo, NY)
  • This was used in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump, and the song was re-released as part of the soundtrack. It once again entered the charts, and became the longest-running single in the Billboard US chart's history, with over 50 weeks total.
  • December, 1963 was one of the less celebratory months in American history. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.
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Comments: 55

I'm a child of December '63, conceived, then born in September, 1964.Rick - Philadelphia
If this tune is really about cocaine, how do we explain the phrase: "Oh, I got a funny feeling when she walked in the room"? That's where he cocaine analogy falls apart. Cocaine doesn't "walk in(to) a room." It would appear that this tune refers to a sexual encounter, most likely with a prostitute. If the female WEREN'T a prostitute, how come the singer "didn't even know her name"? This must be an anonymous sexual encounter between a guy and a prostitute.Harry - Honolulu, Hi
In the movie version (and maybe the play... I don't remember) they implied the song was created by Gaudio to celebrate the loss of his virginity. I know that's not the truth but it certainly works well.Mike - Sacramento, Ca
I heard the dance remix version of this song on the car radio yesterday. Its ramped-up percussion puts the badonka-donk in this song and I rather liked it. It made me bee-bop to the music while I was driving. It was very listenable.Camille - Toronto, Oh
On December 21st 1975, "December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night)" by the Four Seasons entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on March 7th, 1976 it peaked at #1 (for 3 weeks) and spent over a half-year on the Top 100 (27 weeks)...
On April 10th, 1976 it reached #1 (for 1 week) on the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart...
And eighteen years later on October 9th, 1994 a remixed of the song by Dutch deejay Ben Liebrand peaked at #14 on the Top 100 and again spent 27 weeks on the Top 100.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
I loved this song when it was released in 1976. Now I find it a bit overplayed on the radio, altho still a good song. A more favorite song of mine by the Four Seasons is "Who Loves You" which had such a unique sound. Yet Songfacts hasn't included it on their website. :(Camille - Toronto, Oh
Sometimes a song is just a song. A poem put to music to tell a story. Any hidden meanings are only a listeners imagination working overtime.Dalan - Notacityyet, Mt
WoooHooo!! Love this songBetty - Dayton, Oh
I take this on face value, good catchy fun disco song, don't look for too many hidden meanings. Play it loud, sing along, wind up the neighbours.Peterm - Birmingham, United Kingdom
OK. Here is the real story. December 1963 was a very cold month in Minnesota. After a whirlwind romance, my fiance and I decided to get married. I had a few days off around Christmas, so we had a small, evening wedding on December 21, 1963. The temperature was somewhat south of -20 degrees F.
Oh! What a night.
That night did not feature my first sexual encounter, but many of my best.
Ken - Afton, Mn
I first heard this song in Fall 1994, as part of a weekly radio program called American Gold. My assumption has always been that the lyrics do not even refer to a sexual encounter, much less anything drug-related.

This average-looking, slightly awkward and nerdy 16~18-year-old boy is attending a large party with a couple of his friends. A pretty, popular and more experienced girl spots him, and finds him nice/(sym)pathetic enough to dance and innocently flirt with for a while. The boy is ecstatic, never having expected someone deemed that far out of his league to even notice him. Afterwards, he feels both grateful and more confident/mature than before. The song is sung from the perspective of the now grown-up boy, who has long since overcome his shyness and is now happily married (probably recounting this tale to his children/nephews/etc.).

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/SugarWiki/CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming?from=Main.CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming
Umgogo - Uppsala, Sweden
I believe Bob Gaudio sang the parts attributed to Don Ciccone in the actual recording. Ciccone sang them in concert since Gaudio was not performing live. In the Four Seasons Live album, however, Gaudio sat in for a few songs and Valli attributed the lead singing to Bob Gaudio and Gerry Polci which appears to substantiate my claim. Incidentally, Ciccone was still in the group at the time so why wouldn't he sing this part if he actually did it in the studio.Avi - Beit Shemesh, Israel
Gerry Polci sang all the verses, Frankie Valli sang the bridge, Don Ciccone the second bridge. The song clearly belongs to Polci. In my opinion his voice is much better than Valli's. That falsetto can only be tolerated for so long. Valli didn't sing much lead at all on that album due to the fact that he had major hearing loss. And yes the song is about a guys first sexual encounter, not drugs. If people would go get the facts then they wouldn't have to speculate LOL! Bob Gaudio himself talked about writing the song, and what it was about.Shorty - Endicott, Ny
I've seen Forest Gump a million times, and I cannot figure out what part of the movie this song was played in. Anyone know? If you do, please email me at tonysgirl1959@yahoo.com

Thanks!
Mary - Phoenix, Az
In regard to the ANDREW GOLD comment, I too always thought this was Andrew Gold. Clearly not. All I can think of is that his song Lonely Boy includes the lyrics "He was born on a summer day, 1963", and "Oh, what a lonely boy". These can obviously be easily confused with "late december back in '63" and "Oh, what a night". I have no idea if that was intentional. Plus they do have similar enough voices that I always thought it was him.Jarvis - Kansas City, Mo
THIS SONG IS NOT ABOUT DRUGS!
Come on people. I'm so annoyed that people take every single song from the 60's and 70's and find some way that it can relate to drugs. Geez. Yes we all know that people were experimenting with acid and LSD but that doesnt mean that every single person did and it also doesnt mean that drugs were the main influence of everyones songs. This song is about sex and how he fell in love for the first time. NOTHING TO DO WITH DRUGS SO SHUTUP! Grrr.
Caroline - Atlanta, Ga
For 33 years I thought it was September 1963.Today I learnt It is December 1963.Why is it December and not September?Wow I never thought this might be a song about christmas as I always thought about September.I must be very lonely because today I learned a new christmas carol.Is this song about christmas and is jinglebells about only about riding on snow and has nothing to do with christmas.John - Brisbane, United States
This song was one of my mother's favorite songs because I was born in late December 1963Grace - Pembroke Pines, Fl
I met my husband in December 1963 at a volunteer function. He told his friends he was going to marry me and he didn't know my name. After several dates I was told what he said. I laughed. So the song means alot to me and the words fit very well. I was head over heals from the very beginning. It brings back so many wonderful memories of our time together.Kathy - Philadelphia, Vt
For those of you wondering about how this could be referring to drugs, "lady" is very common slang for cocaine, along with "lady caine," "lady snow," "white lady," and about a dozen others. Because of this cocaine is often referred to as a woman (see Eric Clapton's "Cocaine"). Think about it - the original was about the repeal of prohibition and the return of alcohol. They changed it around to be about... sex? Maybe, if they completely changed the theme, but it makes a lot more sense if it was updated from alcohol to cocaine. Frankly, you can take it however you want. It makes perfect sense as a first one night stand, first visit to a brothel, or first sampling of cocaine. I'm sure that was the point. A lot of songs use innuendo and double-meanings, this one just does it brilliantly.Scott - Buffalo, Ny
Sara,you are right! You go girl!! I have the DVD and I watch it twice a week and I've never heard it. I think they need to do some better research on this issue.Big Ed - Pulaski, Tn
I listen to this Song on my i-pod almost 24/7. the rhythem is so kechy. i love it!!!!Emmy - Mt Holly, Nj
The best song ever! I danced and sang it with my friend at a high school reunion. Just a great song.Harry Mann Jr - Hingham, Ma
Gerry Polci, the lead singer for this song, is a band teacher in my town. He is my middle school band teacher.Alex - New Providence, Nj
Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC... "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys reached #1 in November 5, 1988. Their first #1 hit was " I Get Around" in July 4, 1964.Michael - Ponce, Puerto Rico, Other
A disco hit... not typical of the Four Seasons. If you guys are disco fans, you'll be overjoyed that the Four Seasons joined in. Not very often that the Four Seasons make a recording that people tend to dance to. But there's a first time for everything.Andrew - Birmingham, United States
Over the last several weeks I have heard what sounds like a re-release of this song with a new/same/enhanced instrumental arrangement with the same vocal tracks of the original. It is quite interesting to listen to for this 46-year-old man who well remembers the song when it was first released. I wonder whose idea it was.
John Martin, 46 (as I'm finishing this message I notice that Bob from Munich mentions that this version was from the '90s. See below.)
John - Fort Worth, Tx
this IS NOT on the forrest gump soundtrack. i have the 2-disk set, and i KNOW it's NOT there. =^_^=Sara Mackenzie - Middle Of Nowhere, Fl
If it were about drugs, why would it say "what a lady, what a night" or "she was everything I dreamed she'd be?"David - Eugene, Or
This song SOUNDS to be about a guy?s first experience at a a brothel (whore-house.) Think about it, lyrics say: "I didn't even know her name, but I was never going to be the same" AND, "I got a funny feeling when she walked in the room, as I recall it ended much too soon!" If it were a one night stand away from a brothel, he probably would have found out her name first; and it probably wouldn't have "ended much too soon!" I could be wrong, but it sure sounds to have taken place at a brothel!!!! LOL: GEEZ--I can't believe Frankie Valli and company were more opposed to sing about the repeal of prohibition (the original plot to the song before modification,) than a one-night stand at a whore-house!!!!David - Eugene, Or
Was used in the movie Sleepers starring Kevin Bacon and Brad PittMilton - Island, Canada
Gerry Polci, the drummer, sang about 80% of the lyrics - Frankie Valli and Don Ciccone, the bassist, sang background. Gerry didn't 'share' the lead - listen to the song...it's pretty clear...John - Brooklyn, Ny
Hey Andy from Texas, the Beach Boys had no number one hits before the Beatles. Their first number one hit was "I get around" in 1964. So they do not fall into that category.Joshua - Chico, Ca
Lovely tune, one of my favorites to sing when I do karaoke!Michael - San Diego, Ca
My mom thought this was by Andrew Gold... does anyone know WHY she would think that? I'm curious, did he redo it too? Or does Andrew Gold just sound like Frankie Valli?

Yea, not all songs are about drugs! It's like the "Vietnam or Drinking or Whatever Else" argument that always seems to be going on in "Baba O'riley". Either way, both songs are too pleasing to the ear to be scrutinized and analyzed. Just enjoy them!
Ben - Claremont, Mn
Wasn't it Bob Gaudio that wrote the melody?

and Parker who did the lyrics?
Rpy - New York, Ny
This is a wonderful song.It has such a good tune and it is very catchy.Definitely one of my favourite songs.The only problem is that you don't hear it a lot anymore.Natasha - London, England
Cocomo hit number one in 1985, this song hit number 1 in 1976. I think the songfacts people were talking about this in 1976 statistics, meaning that when the ofur Seasons had a hit with this, they, at the time were the only group to have number 1 hits before, during, and adter the Beatles.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
"I got a funny feeling when she walked in the room" If you think this song is about drugs, perhaps, you are the one on drugs.Chris - Winnipeg, Canada
This song is believed to hold the longest reign at #1 on the charts with over 50 weeks (over a year) at the top. another song you can help but dance and feel good to.Nathan - From The Country Of, Canada
The catchy vocal (other than Frankie Valli's) that gives this recording its unmistakeable feel is delivered by the Four Season's new bass player Don Ciccone. Ciccone had his own story to tell. In 1965, he and his high school pals created a band called the Critters. They recorded their first album in New Jersey in 1965, which delivered a minor hit in the hot summer of '66 called "Mr. Dieingly Sad." It was a beautiful, ethereal ballad that seemed to make all the girls swoon that year. That's Ciccone singing the song. But just about the time the song hit #17 on the Top 20 charts, half the band was shipped off to Vietnam. (It's never been clear whether Don was drafted or whether he took his dad's advice and enlisted in hopes of getting to call his own shots on his tour of duty--which was very common during Vietnam.) Anyway, two or three years later, the carefree magical moment of youth and swooning girls had passed. Ciccone's Critters were a fleeting footnote in rock history. And it would not be until Frankie Valli enlisted him in the Seasons in the mid 1970s that we'd get to hear from him again. There's probably a movie in all this.Dirk - Nashville, Tn
"When this hit US #1 in 1976, it made The Four Seasons the only artist in history to have #1 songs before (several), during ("Rag Doll") and after the Beatles. (thanks, Dan - Buffalo, NY)"

The Beach Boys also fit into this category:
Before: several
During: "Good Vibrations"
After: "Kokomo"
Andy - San Antonio, Tx
I am young in comparison to those who grew up with this song, but I heard it so much when I was young also. So I feel relieved, you know, like that feeling you get when you hear something from the past that makes you feel like a kid again (problemless).Jon - Oakridge, Or
Bob from Munich, the new version of this song which came out in 1996 was by dance act Clock (also known for their re-workings of Harold Faltermeyer;'s "Axel F", Tag Team's "Whoomph! There It Is", Hot Chocolate's "It's Over" and "You Sexy Thing" and K.C. & The Sunshine Band's "That's The Way (I like It)", amongst many others); it reached No.13 in the UK in 1996, under the slightly amended title of "Oh! What A Night! (December '63)".Dave - Cardiff, Wales
Gerry Polci is a loser... treading in the footsteps of FrankieBob - New York, Ny
All the credit goes to Gerry Polci!!Bob - New York, Ny
rad song.. i love it.. but yeh i agree with jerry, how can it be bout drugs?? what a lady what a night?? yeh thats heaps bout drugsDee - Khancoban, Australia
So, Hilikus, this is yet ANOTHER song about drugs!!! Give me a break!! By your logic, so is Cole Porter's "I've got you under my skin"!!!
What do you put under your skin? A needle!! The drugs then go "deep in the heart of me; so deep in my heart it's really a part of me... I'd sacrifice anything, come what might for the sake of having you (the drugs) near, in spite of the warning voice that comes in the night (conscience?) and repeats and repeats in my ear 'don't you know, you fool, you never can win, use your mentality, wake up to reality'."
Sorry, this is a sex song, (im)pure and simple.
Not that there's anything wrong with that!
Jerry - Brooklyn, Ny
I don't care, I love (almost) all Frankie's songs.Mary C. - Chicago, Il
this is a really catchy songTim - Algonquin, Il
There is a huge misconception about this song. It is indisputably about cocaine and its effects. Research this if you do not believe me. I have found that people from all age groups seem to have this misconception. It is not about losing one's virginity or a "Mrs.Robinson" type experience. Cocaine, baby! "Spinning my head around and taking my body under" is not referring to an orgasm, it is a cocaine high, "as I recall it ended much too soon" refers to the short-lived nature of a cocaine high (it peaks at around ten minutes and then comes steadily down).

Peace
Hilikus - Philadelphia, Pa
"The song is supposedly about a guy's first sexual encounter."

Supposedly? It IS about a guy's first sexual encounter. Dar.
Leon - Waterbury, Ct
Please, does anybody know what the dance remix of this song that came out in the 90s was called?Bob - Munich, Germany
Thanks for the lyrics....I've *never* been able to understand the words that Frankie sang. :)Jane - Charleston, Wv
The song is supposedly about a guy's first sexual encounterMarc - Freehold, Nj