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The Truth Behind The Most Iconic Diss Track Of All Time, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 08: The Grinch poses with cheerleaders from the Jacksonville Jaguars before the start of a game against the Los Angeles Chargers at TIAA Bank Field on December 08, 2019 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Eminem has buried plenty of people with diss tracks, hell he made Machine Gun Kelly switch genres, but even as accomplished as he is no one is belting out 8 Mile tunes every year like we do with The Grinch.

In a pretty cool read from American Songwriter, author Jake Uitti digs into the history of the most iconic diss track ever recorded.

I am going to give you some of the goods from the article.

The song was (obviously) written for the 1966 cartoon special, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but it has somehow since transcended even that classic to become part of the mainstream.

Truly, within the first three notes, you know what the song is.

Anyways, Dr. Seuss (born Theodor Seuss Geisel) published the original storybook in 1957, right after The Cat in the Hat and right before The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, and created the drawing of the green, fuzzy Grinch at that same time.

Seuss was on one at that point. Damn, what a run.

He also wrote the song lyrics that accompanied the television version of the holiday special, which came out nearly a decade after the book. The music was written by Albert Hague, a German-American musician who was born in Berlin and escaped Hitler’s army by fleeing to Rome and then America in 1939.

The song was performed by singer, Thurl Arthur Ravenscroft, an American actor known for his bass voice. Notably, he also voiced Frosted Flakes’ Tony the Tiger for 50 years. (You can’t make this stuff up.) For a long time, Ravenscroft went uncredited on the song. He died in 2005 after finally getting credit for his work in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Prior to receiving proper acknowledgment, the performance had been falsely credited to Boris Karloff, who narrated the special. Karloff (Born William Henry Pratt) was an English actor who starred as Frankenstein’s monster in the 1931 horror film, Frankenstein.

Some also thought the singer might have been American singer, Tennessee Ernie Ford. But it was the GGGRRREAAAATTT Ravenscroft all along, who sang the Dr. Seuss penned lyrics.

The television special first aired on CBS on December 18, 1966. And it’s likely aired every year, hundreds of times, on channels annually ever since. You’ve probably seen it 100 times, yourself.

But just in case: the green, fuzzy Grinch, who lives alone (with his dog) in a cave above the pleasant Whoville, decides to ruin Christmas by stealing all of the townspeople’s presents and decorations. He disguises himself as Santa Claus, slithering around their houses, and achieves his goal only to later realize the error of his ways. Only then does his heart grow and grow. But before he can learn his lesson, he must be mean.

You’re a mean one
You really are a heel
You’re as cuddly as a cactus
You’re as charming as an eel
Mr. Grinch, you’re a bad banana
Mr. Grinch, with the greasy black peel

You’re a vile one
You got termites in your smile
You have all the tender sweetness
Of a seasick crocodile
Mr. Grinch
You’re a foul one
Friends you don’t have none
I wouldn’t touch you with a 39-and-a-half foot pole!

Damn. Bro, you just killed The Grinch.

The show’s soundtrack won the Grammy Award for Best Album for Children in 1968 and peaked at No. 32 on Billboard.

What do you think?

Written by Malcolm Henry

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