20 Fun, Odd & Notable Christmas Songs

Dick Rosemont - December 12, 2011

"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