"Not your standard carols!"
I've always had a soft spot for novelty records, and there is certainly a sleigh load of holiday recordings that have caught my ear. Harken up, my friends, I am NOT talking about coal-in-the-stocking stuffers like Elmo & Patsy's "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer," those singing dogs or even Cheech and Chong's over-exposed "Santa Claus and His Old Lady." No, it was 45s such as Soupy Sales' "Santa Claus is Surfin' to Town" that made this little drummer boy's heart beat.
So pull up a chair, sip on some eggnog or suck on a candy cane while enjoying some less common holiday tunes—and a couple of thought-provoking ones—in no particular order...
Since 1967, NRBQ has been delighting critics and fans while being overlooked by the general public. Despite the inevitable personnel shifts through the years, this genre-hopping group soldiers on through the leadership of its quirky keyboardist Terry Adams. “Christmas Wish” includes longtime guitarist Al Anderson, now a part-time Santa Fe resident.
Here is the original of this oft-recorded favorite that's become a classic. Boris Karloff was the narrator for the 1966 TV production of Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas. But did you know the singing was actually done by Thurl Ravenscroft, the same guy who was the booming voice of Tony The Tiger? Sadly, Thurl was uncredited for Grinch.
- "Mr. Grinch" by Thurl Ravenscroft 1966
A fun, swingin’ tune from Satch.
- " ‘Zat You, Santa Claus" by Louis Armstrong & The Commanders 1953
Enforcing drunk-driving laws is nothing new as an over-indulger and even Santa learned the hard way.
- "Christmas In Jail" by the Youngsters 1956
- "Santa Got A DWI" by Sherwin Linton 1986
And on a related note....
- "Santa Came Home Drunk" by Clyde Lasley & The Cadillac Baby Specials 1960
Here’s an early 45 from this Michigan maestro, and the first to apply James Brown’s famous line to Christmas. His group at the time was call the Last Heard, which Bob came to regret since it often came out sounding like “last turd.”
- "Sock It To Me Santa" by Bob Seger & Last Heard 1966
It wasn’t politically correct then and it's questionable even now, but it’s certainly entertaining. How many feet from the chimney does Santa need to be to light up?
- "Santa’s Secret" by Johnny Guarnieri with Slam Stewart 1944
An early ’50s swinging R&B number.
- "Mr. Santa’s Boogie" by the Marshall Bros. 1951
Nothing subtle in this reversal of gift giving! Yes, writer & co-conspirator Billy Mumy played Will Robinson on the Lost In Space TV show.
- "I’ve Got Some Presents For Santa" by Sarah Taylor & Billy Mumy 1991
Martin Mull wrote and sang the original, but here is Sonic Youth adding their twist and noise.
- "Santa Doesn’t Cop Out On Dope" by Sonic Youth
The Godfather Of Soul’s plea still applies decades later.
- "Let’s Make Christmas Mean Something This Year" by James Brown 1967
What fun...and it’s from 1936!
- "What Will Santa Claus Say (When He Sees Everybody Swinging’?)" by Louis Prima 1936
Even Santa couldn’t resist the rock & roll wave of the mid-’50s.
- "Rockin’ N’ Rollin’ With Santa Claus" by the Hepsters 1955
The Fab Four cut yearly Christmas messages and songs for their fan club members. Was their “O-U-T” really about ending the Vietnam war?
- "Christmas Time Is Here Again" by the Beatles 1967
The Ramones would be among the last groups you’d expect to hear a Christmas song from but here it is....and it’s nearly sentimental!p>
- "Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)" by the Ramones 1989
The ever-topical Ochs penned this in support of striking miners. It’s sung to the tune of “Wabash Cannonball.”
"No Christmas In Kentucky" by Phil Ochs c.1966
Phil Spector’s wall-of-sound production with the Crystals’ singer. This first came out on Phil’s various-artists LP A Christmas Gift For You in late 1963. Not only was its content a shock for conservative ears, it suffered neglect in the wake of JFK’s assassination. I wonder if they’ll be playing this in the California State Prison.
- "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" by Darlene Love 1963
This fun little 45 only came out in the UK.
- "I’m A Little Christmas Cracker" by the Bouncing Czecks 1984
I love the lines “This is 1968 brother, not 1958. Now you mice gotta get it together,” demonstrating just how much had changed in those 10 years. For years, this was only available on an obscure 45.
- "Chipmunk Song" by Canned Heat & The Chipmunks 1968