About The Song

Released, fittingly, on 1 December 1975, December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) marked a distinct shift in styles for Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons, as the group moved away from their falsetto-soaked hits of the early 60s – Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like A Man – and embraced a more mature sound for a perfect coming-of-age tale.

The story of the song’s conception begins with producer and songwriter Bob Gaudio. An original member of The Four Seasons, Gaudio initially wrote it as a celebration of the repeal of prohibition in the US on 5 December 1933. The original lyrics mentioned flapper girls, parties and alcohol, but The Four Seasons couldn’t relate to the subject matter.

With some changes, the song took the form we all know and love today – December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night). Judy Parker (who later became Gaudio’s wife), suggested he rewrite it as a coming-of-age story in the form of a young man’s “first experience” – down to not even knowing the woman’s name, and the whole thing ending “much too soon”. While the song could easily be set in any year, it’s fitting that Gaudio’s rewrite took it to 1963: the early 60s was the most successful period in The Four Seasons’ career, while the late December setting calls to mind cosy fireplaces, twinkling lights and the torrid affairs of “cuffing season”.

See also  Frankie Valli - Can't Take My Eyes Off You

December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) attracted backlash, with some parents sending letters to both The Four Seasons and the radio stations that played the song, expressing their concerns that its subtext would rub off on their teenagers. After all, The Four Seasons had initially found commercial success as a clean, all-American group who sang innocent lyrics on 60s pop hits; this new single marked a shocking transition from the polite lyrics of Sherry, in which the girl “better ask your mama” if she can go out dancing.

The song’s instrumentation has all the staples of a mid-70s production: a funky bassline, punchy horns, chicken-scratch guitar and a synth solo that finds keyboardist Lee Shapiro quickly running up and down the keyboard. The Four Seasons’ voices are as impeccable as ever, but December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night)’s truly defining factor is the music: upbeat, catchy and just plain fun. The nonsensical “do-do-do, do-do”s sung at the end capitalise on the whimsical nature of the lyrics, which don’t need to be understood for the song to enliven the listener.

December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) topped both the US and UK charts and became the most successful single in Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons’ lengthy career. Its popularity helped them become one of the only US groups to have topped the Billboard charts before, during and after British Invasion of 1964. Two decades years after its release, in 1994, December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) charted once again, thanks to a remix by Dutch DJ and producer Ben Liebrand, which, after going gold in The Netherlands, went Top 20 in the US. With added percussion, Liebrand’s update introduced the song to a whole new generation of listeners, proving that it endures on a global scale.

See also  Frankie Valli - Can't Take My Eyes Off You


One thought on “Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons – December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)”
  1. Bad Ass Songs ever …I was a teenager in the 60’s..rocking hard with Mr. Frankie Valli and the 4 Season’s…all if their songs were the Greatest !!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *