Man Transforms Into Monster Hippo

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It's probably the last thing you'd expect from mild-mannered financial planner and choir boy Bill Backes.

But when prompted or provoked, the owner of Securities America and president of the Payson Choral Society, has been known to break into a romping, stomping rendering of "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" (see photo and lyrics).

photo

He says it's been four years, but those of us who attended the college's poetry and Christmas music singalong last year witnessed Bill Backes doing this rendition of "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas."

"It's my favorite Christmas song," Backes said. "I first heard it years ago when I was driving my car, and I started laughing so hard I had to pull over."

Backes, who is sitting this Saturday's Christmas concert out after enduring a bout with pneumonia, seems bemused by the continued popularity of his hippo performance.

"Just last week, someone came in and said are you going to do the hippo song," he said. "I said, ‘I don't know if these guys will allow me to do it again.'

"What's really funny is that my wife got called the hippo lady one time at the supermarket by a youngster. She said, ‘Look mom, it's the hippo guy, and you must be the hippo lady.' It was too cute.

"Some things never leave you and that's OK. That means it was well received."

Backes has enjoyed singing most of his life.

"I was in chorus all through high school (Coronado High in the Valley) and college (both Arizona State and the University of Arizona).

His connection to the Rim Country goes back to his childhood.

"My folks have had a cabin up in Colcord Estates since 1963," he said. "I can remember when the 260 highway was dirt. I spent all my summers up here.

"My folks live up here and I finally had my business in the Valley and California to the point where I had a client base and I could move up here."

Once here, it didn't take him long to hook up with the Payson Choral Society.

"Like everybody, I went to a concert 11 years ago," he said. "I decided I want to sing in this group, so I auditioned and have been singing with them for 10 years now."

Out of this union of man and choir came the infamous hippo song.

"I wanted to get some lighter music into the concert, so I did it just to really emphasize that you can get nuts," he said.

"Well I did it one year and three years later I did it again, and its been like four years since I've done it now and people still remember."

If you see the Backes out and about, go right up to him and ask him to do a bit of the hippo song for you. You'll see why people remember.

But please don't call Cindy the hippo lady.

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

Words and music by John Rox

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas,

Only a hippopotamus will do.

Don't want a doll, no dinky Tinker Toy,

I want a hippopotamus to play with and enjoy.

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas,

I don't think Santa Claus will mind, do you?

He won't have to use our dirty chimney flue.

Just bring him through the front door,

that's the easy thing to do.

I can see me now on Christmas morning,

creeping down the stairs.

Oh what joy and what surprise

when I open up my eyes

to see a hippo hero standing there.

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas,

Only a hippopotamus will do.

No crocodiles, no rhinoceroses.

I only like hippopotamuses

And hippopotamuses like me too

Mom says the hippo would eat me up, but then

Teacher says a hippo is a vegetarian.

There's lots of room for him in our two-car garage.

I'd feed him there and wash him there and give him his massage

I can see me now on Christmas morning,

creeping down the stairs.

Oh what joy and what surprise

when I open up my eyes

to see a hippo hero standing there.

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas

Only a hippopotamus will do.

No crocodiles or rhinoceroses,

I only like hippopotamuses,

And hippopotamuses like me too!

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