It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (lost original music recordings of animated Halloween TV special; 1966)

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Itgpcb.jpg

The special's title card.

Status: Lost

It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a Halloween special based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz, and premiered on October 27th, 1966 on CBS. It involves Linus van Pelt expressing his belief for the Great Pumpkin by sitting in a pumpkin patch on Halloween night, waiting for the Great Pumpkin to rise out of the patch while all the other kids trick-or-treat and go to a Halloween party.

The special has been regarded as a Halloween classic, and the music composed by Vince Guaraldi has been highly regarded as well. However, unlike the original music recordings for A Charlie Brown Christmas and other specials, the original recordings for Great Pumpkin had been lost for years.

Overview[edit | edit source]

On October 5th, 2018, Craft Recordings, the reissue division of Concord Music (the current distributor of the Peanuts special soundtracks), released what they called a "soundtrack album" featuring the songs from the soundtrack of It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, claiming that the soundtrack to the special had not been released digitally or on CD before.[1] However, there is one catch to this album: the sound effects from the special are included in the songs.[2]

Sound effects can be heard in most of the songs, such as in the special's version of "Linus and Lucy", like when Linus throws an apple in the trash, and when he rolls the large pumpkin back toward his and Lucy's house. Blowing sounds can be heard during the song that plays when Snoopy blows a leaf into Charlie Brown's pile of leaves.[2]

However, the song that got the worst treatment on the album is "Breathless", the song that plays when Snoopy imagines himself as a World War I flying ace crawling through the battlefield. The many sirens, gunshots, and other sound effects overshadow the actual song itself. Adding to the unfairness, "Breathless" was one of the most fan-requested songs from the special.[2]

Another issue with the album is that the quality of the sound has noticeably deteriorated. Many hisses, sound fluctuations, and "harshness" can be heard in the music. The tracks are also all in mono instead of stereo.[2]

One of the biggest problems of all about Craft's release of the soundtrack is that the songs have been released EXACTLY how they sound in the special, as in Craft used the edited versions of the music that were cut down to fit in the special. Most of the songs are short cues that last about 20 to 30 seconds long. A lot of them also fade abruptly or transition suddenly.[2]

The album itself is short as well, lasting only around 20 minutes, shorter than the actual special itself (the special is 24 minutes in length), without even the addition of the music from another Peanuts special.[2]

Availability[edit | edit source]

Some of the songs from It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown can be listened to without the sound effects, such as the famous "Great Pumpkin Waltz", but some of the tracks can only be listened to either on the Craft Recordings release with the sound effects and other sound quality issues, or watching the special itself and listening closely.

On June 15, 2022, Craft Recordings announced that the Great Pumpkin session tapes had been found in the archives of Lee Mendelson Film Productions, in boxes labeled "Big Pumpkin Charlie Brown". Craft will release a remastered and expanded "Definitive Edition" of the soundtrack on August 26, 2022, which will include the full soundtrack, along with alternate takes from the recording sessions. Lee Mendelson had previously attempted to locate the tapes before his death in 2019. His sons, Jason and Sean, worked with Craft to assemble the new release.[3]

References[edit | edit source]