The Thing

Album: The Best Of Phil Harris (1950)
Charted: 1

Songfacts®:

  • "The Thing" is a novelty song written by Charles Randolph Green and recorded by Phil Harris. In it, Harris tells a story about finding a box floating in a bay. He opens the box and thinks whatever is inside is grand, but soon finds that everyone else in the world is repulsed by its contents and, because of that, by Harris himself.

    He takes the box to a pawn shop, a hobo, and his wife. None of them want anything to do with it or with Harris. Even in death he finds rejection as Saint Peter orders him to take the box down to Hell rather than into Heaven.

    We never find out what's in the box. Harris never even actually calls it "the thing." In the chorus, every time he comes close to naming it, three loud drum sounds interrupt his singing.
  • Charles Randolph Grean also wrote the novelty song called "The Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins," recorded by Leonard Nimoy.
  • The song predated the 1958 birth of the Billboard Hot 100, so it didn't chart on that particular list. Billboard was around at that time, though, and had lists for Best Sellers in Stores, Most Played by Jockeys, and Most Played in Jukeboxes. At various points in December 1955, "The Thing" held the #1 spot on all three charts.
  • The year the song debuted, NBC-TV ran a Christmas promotional campaign implying that the thing in the box was the drive to help needy people - essentially, the Christmas spirit.
  • Ray Charles covered the song on his 1964 album Have a Smile With Me.
  • Roy Parker, with pinball maker Chicago Coin, created a pinball machine modeled on "The Thing" in 1951.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

00s Music Quiz 1

00s Music Quiz 1Music Quiz

Do you know the girl singer on Eminem's "Stan"? If so, this quiz is for you.

Artis the Spoonman

Artis the SpoonmanSong Writing

Even before Soundgarden wrote a song about him, Artis was the most famous spoon player of all time. So why has he always been broke?

Narada Michael Walden - "Freeway of Love"

Narada Michael Walden - "Freeway of Love"They're Playing My Song

As a songwriter and producer, Narada had hits with Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Starship. But what song does he feel had the greatest impact on his career?

90210 to Buffy to Glee: How Songs Transformed TV

90210 to Buffy to Glee: How Songs Transformed TVSong Writing

Shows like Dawson's Creek, Grey's Anatomy and Buffy the Vampire Slayer changed the way songs were heard on TV, and produced some hits in the process.

Chris Isaak

Chris IsaakSongwriter Interviews

Chris tells the story of "Wicked Game," talks milkshakes and moonpies at Sun Records, and explains why women always get their way.

Modern A Cappella with Peder Karlsson of The Real Group

Modern A Cappella with Peder Karlsson of The Real GroupSong Writing

The leader of the Modern A Cappella movement talks about the genre.