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The Chipmunk Song

by

The Chipmunks



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This was written and produced by Ross Bagdasarian (a.k.a. David Seville). The inspiration came to him from his youngest son, Adam, who had a habit of asking in September if it was Christmas yet. He figured if his son was already asking about the holiday so early, other kids probably were too.
The song went through three versions before Bagdasarian's family gave it the OK. The first version was an instrumental, the third was titled "In A Village Park," and the third and winner was "The Chipmunk Song."
Within three weeks of being released the song had sold over 2.5 million copies, making it the fastest selling record of 1958. It hit #1 on December 22, 1958, and stayed there for 4 weeks. This is the last Christmas song to hit #1 in the US. (thanks, Jeff - Boston, MA, for above 3)
The Chipmunks were called Alvin, Simon and Theodore. They were named after Liberty Record's president Al Bennett, owner Si Warnoker and the engineer on duty when it was recorded, Ted Keep.
Prior to recording this, David Seville also had a #1 hit called "Witch Doctor," where he used the pitched up vocal technique, but only for one voice. (thanks, John - Los Angeles, CA, for above 2)
The Chipmunks had their own cartoon in the early 1960's and again in the mid-1980s. Seville died of a heart attack in 1972, and in 1979, his son Ross Bagdasarian Jr. assumed control of The Chipmunks with him doing the voices of David Seville, Alvin, and Simon, while Ross Jr's wife Janice Klarman did the voice for Theodore. (thanks, Jordan Elliott Kamni - Los Angeles,, CA)
A remixed version of this song returned to the American Hot 100 in the first chart of 2008 after a gap of 45 years, thanks to the box office success of the film Alvin And The Chipmunks.
Random trivia: Ross Bagdasarian can be seen playing the piano as a struggling composer in the Alfred Hitchcock movie classic Rear Window starring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. (thanks, Terry - Willmar, MN)
The Chipmunks
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Comments (11):

David Seville rode the Chipmunk craze for a number of years; he charted in 1959 with "Alvin's Harmonica" & it peaked at #3, 1960 with "Alvin for President", in 1960 with "Alvin Orchestra" and in 1962 with "The Alvin Twist" {Also charted in 1961 & 1962 with a re-release of "Alvin's Harmonica"}
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
Also made the Top 100 in 1959, 1960, 1961, & 1962 during the Christmas season. In '59 peaked at #41, '60 is was #45, '61 was #39, and finally in '62 it reached #40...
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
The Chipmunk voice techniques was done using a tape recorder Ross Bagdasarian ( David Seville)used. He wanted the chipmunks to sound like little people ; so he recorded his own voice on the tape , then played it back on fast - forward . This is the same technique he used for making the voice of the "Witch Doctor" on the song by the same name.
- Mike, Franklin County, PA
I still have this 45[rpm]in my record collection!
- Reed, New Ulm, MN
He also had to sing "Loo the loo" because when the "P" sound is slowed down it makes a rather loud thump.
- Greg, Alsip, IL
The change in voice pitch with the Chipmunks is different from a song such as, for example, "They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha Ha!"
They're Coming To Take Me Away... is done using phase shifting. The Chipmunks is done by recording the music and then slowing the tape speed by 1/2, which lowers the music track by one octave. Bagdasarian would then record talking and songs (he did the voices and singing of all 3 Chipmunks) and when the music track was brought back up to speed you had Chipmunk voices and singing that was in key with the music! I believe he won a Grammy for this effect.

The first time he used this effect was for a pre-Chipmunks song, "The Witch Doctor."
- Carl, Eugene, OR
Although it's been forgotten due to the passage of time, Ross Bagdasarian also wrote Rosemary Clooney's BIGGEST hit of all-time: "Come On-A My House". His co-writer was none other than his Cousin, William Saroyan, one of the most famous writers/playwrights of the 30's-50's time period.
BTW: Bagdasarian took the professional name "David Seville" because he was stationed in Seville, Spain during World War II and really liked the area.
- Jonnie King, St. Louis, MO
Regained popularity in the mid-1990s when featured in "Look Who's Talking Now" in which it was played with John Travolta & Kirstie Alley lip-synching to the song, after Mikey discovered the mall Santa to be a fake.
- Patrick, Tallapoosa, GA
Also, this song was spoofed off in a Smokey Bear ad in which the same artist thanked the people who prevented wildfires. Cooool!
- Tiffany, Dover, FL
I heard it on the radio during the holidays and it was extremely droll!
- Tiffany, Dover, FL
Ross Bagdasarian has a non-speaking part in the Hitchcock thriller "Rear Window". He is the piano player in the apartment across the way.
- Steve, San Jose, CA
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