Holiday Oldies: What’s in your Jukebox?
Once again, it’s time to toss a few Christmas oldies into the jukebox or just reminisce about the tunes of holidays gone by.
2020 has been a year like no other. So while we’re all familiar with the classic and standard holiday songs throughout the years, what better way to end this horrible year than by mentioning some of the really fun (sometimes silly) Christmas songs from our past, as well as some of the standards covered by different artists in their own unique way.
What single gal wouldn’t appreciate Eartha Kitt’s 1953 Santa Baby. Clearly this is a woman who has a serious Santa wish list! She wants Santa to give her a “ring” – but not on the phone, plus a yacht, a convertible, a deed to a platinum mine, etc! Wow – talk about over the top! Pearl Bailey belted out, in bluesy swagger, her wish list – and it was simple; all she wanted was A Five Pound Bag of Money! And while the 80’s really had an amazing number of holiday 45’s ready to pop into a jukebox – the Weather Girls demanded in the catchiest way: Dear Santa (bring me a man for Christmas).
The Royal Guardsmen make us smile when we hear the classic tale of Snoopy taking on the Red Baron, but Bobby Helms really jacks up the tempo with his happy, bouncy Jingle Bell Rock.
Then on the truly tacky side (but I love it), we’ve got Root Boy Slim and his Sex Change Band with the Rootettes, who added a whole new meaning to the “blue light special” with their Xmas at K-Mart! And just when you thought it couldn’t get much worse — in 1979 we find out that Grandma got run over by a freakin’ reindeer! Elmo and Patsy provided us with their own twisted holiday tale.
In 1943 Bing Crosby made Please Come Home for Christmas a major hit. The song was written from the perspective of a soldier serving away from home during World War 2. Over the years the song had tons of covers, but In 1978 The Eagles’ version peaked at #18 on the U.S. Billboard top 100 – the first Christmas song to reach the Top 20 since Roy Orbison’s Pretty Paper in 1963. The Eagles re-released it in 1995 and in this version, changed the words: Bells will be ringing the “glad, glad news…” to “sad sad news” (being alone for Christmas).
In the 50’s Elvis decides he “is” Santa as he croons that he ain’t got no sleigh with reindeer, no sack on his back – but you’ll see him coming in a big, black Cadillac! With his Santa Claus is Back in Town, Elvis became the hippest Santa ever!
Fast forward to 1977. David Bowie and Bing Crosby recorded the duet: Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy. The track was recorded on Sept. 11, 1977 for Bing’s TV show. Sadly, on Oct. 14 (nearly 5 weeks later), Bing passed away. One of the most popular Christmas duets of all time and just plain beautiful.
Check out some of these lost and forgotten holiday gems. Watch them on YouTube or download them into your favorite devices. Me? — well, I’m loading them into my jukebox. Almost all of these were available on a 45:
A Five Pound Bag of Money – Pearl Bailey (yr. unknown)
Here Comes Santa Claus (right down Santa Claus Lane) – Gene Autry (’47) Inspired by the Hollywood Santa Claus Lane Parade.
Zat You Santa Claus – Louie Armstrong (’53) A really swinging song from yesteryear.
Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt (with a wish list every gal wants!) (’53)
Santa Claus Blues/(B side): I Saw Mama do the Mambo (with you know who) and the “who is Santa” – Jimmy Boyd (’54)
Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms (’57)
Santa Claus is Back In Town – Elvis (’57)
Baby It’s Cold Outside – Dean Martin (’59)
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee (recorded in ’58, but didn’t become a monster hit until ’60)
Santa Claus is Coming to Town – The 4 Seasons (’62)
Pretty Paper – Roy Orbison (’63)
Snoopy vs. the Red Baron – The Royal Guardsmen (’66)
Merry Christmas Darling – The Carpenters (hit Billboard in ’70, then again in ’71 and ’73)
Happy Xmas (the war is over) – John and Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band with Harlem Community Choir (’72)
Christmas at Liberace’s (’76) – yes, this too, is on a 45!
Christmas At K-Mart – Root Boy Slim and the Rootettes (so bad it’s good!)
Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer – Elmos and Patsy (’79) (a truly twisted holiday tale)
Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy – David Bowie and Bing Crosby (’77)
Please Come Home for Christmas – The Eagles (’78 and re-released in ’95 with word changes)
The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be late) – (60’s) Watch the hilarious updated version on YouTube
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – John Denver and the Muppets (70’s)
Jingle Bell Rock – covered by Hall and Oates (’83)
Dear Santa (bring me a man for Christmas) – The Weather Girls (’83)
Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You – Billy Squier (’83)
Christmas Time – Bryan Adams (’85)
The Christmas Song – Billy Crystal (’85)
It’s Christmas – Ronnie Milsap (’86)
Medley: Blue Christmas/I Love You X 3 – Timbuk 3 (’87)
Old Time Christmas – Randy Travis (’89)
Kentucky Homemade Christmas – Kenny Rogers (2000)
Take an oldies sleigh ride with the hits above – you won’t be dashing through the snow, you’ll be rockin’ through it! And if you watch some of these on YouTube, you will literally be “laughing all the way!”
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