With some toys, it’s obvious what they are. Others are more inscrutable. The Christmas Song of the Day for December 13, another song that used to be better known, is about one of the latter.
Tom Paxton (born 1937) auditioned with Milton Okun as a possible replacement for Mike Pugh in the Chad Mitchell Trio in 1960, but Okun decided that his voice didn’t blend with those of Mitchell and Mike Kobluk. (Joe Frazier was eventually hired to be the third Trio member.) As part of his audition, Paxton sang today’s song; Okun liked it so much that he decided to sign him to a songwriting contract.
In 1962, Paxton recorded a privately produced live album recorded at the Gaslight in Greenwich Village, I’m the Man That Built the Bridges, which marked the LP debut of the song. A year later, the Chad Mitchell Trio did the first widely available version, which became their biggest charted single during the Christmas season of 1963, peaking at #43 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In the years since, it’s been recorded by many others, including Peter, Paul & Mary, John Denver, and Paxton himself again on more than one occasion. But today I’m sharing the original hit version from 1963 of Tom Paxton’s delightful song about the mysterious gift, “The Marvelous Toy.”