November 30, 2008

Three Little Dwarfs

It’s a rainy Sunday in Central Virginia and I need something to pull me out of this weather related funk. And the only people who can do this are three little elves named Hardrock, Coco, and Joe.

Every Christmas morning the short was played on Garfield Goose (and later Bozo’s Circus) on Chicago superstation WGN. Though once a Chicago-land classic, the short is now a cherished childhood memory for many people who watched it broadcast each year. Definitive info on Hardrock, Coco, and Joe is certainly hard to pin down. Though the film has copyright info, the video quality is so poor, it’s nearly impossible to read. IMDB dates the film to 1951 and Wikipedia credits it to a company called Centaur Prodictions. It’s certainly unlike anything you’ve ever seen and a definite pre-cursor to the Rankin-Bass style.

Originally called “The Three Little Dwarfs,” most remember this song as simply “Hardrock, Coco, and Joe.” Those three are Santa’s helpers and deliver an unforgettable chorus—and who doesn’t love Joe the best? Gene Autry recorded a version of the tune. But why do it? Nothing beats the original. Still, I’m shocked that some unoriginal (and striking) writer in Hollywood hasn’t revamped this into a full-blown computer animation film. It seems only a matter of time.

Hardrock, Coco, and Joe – The Three Little Dwarves

Suzy Snowflake – Rosemary Clooney

Centaur Productions also made Suzy Snowflake (check out the version above by the late, great Rosemary Clooney). This short was broadcast over the mid-West like Hardrock, Coco, and Joe—at least to the best of my knowledge. I’m curious to know if any of our readers around the world have seen either film. What are your memories of it? And how did you see it?

Enjoy the videos below. The last one ain't so much a classic to anyone but me. But I loved it when I first saw it.

November 29, 2008

It’s Meant To Be the Happy Time of Year

I’m back from turkey over-indulgence and some holiday shopping. I’ll carry on PC’s post of sad songs with… more sad songs. For many of us, this is the best time of the year, but there are quite a few who struggle through this next month. Whether it’s financial or emotional, some don’t find much to cheer, and rightfully so. If you know someone like this, try to do something, no matter how small, to brighten their day. Alright, enough with the preaching. On to the music.

7 O’Clock News/Silent Night – Simon and Garfunkle
Thankfully the U.S. has some good news this year—the hope of a new administration to begin the repair the awful damage done these past eight years. But with the good news comes a daunting job. But for Simon and Garfunkle, with the news in the background, there’s not much to feel good about.

If We Make It through December – Merle Haggard
Haggard’s song is perhaps more relevant this year than any other since the song’s recording. The lyrics no doubt strike a chord for not just people in the U.S. but also the world over. Both Ohio and Pennsylvania, our home states, are struggling right now. This one is for them.

Christmas Will Be Just another Lonely Day – Brenda Lee

Nothing beats Peggy Lee. While Darlene Love is my Queen of Christmas, Brenda Lee is my… Princess, I suppose? Whatever her title, Lee’s got one of those voices that just soars. Few people could make loneliness sound so beautiful.

Christmas Is Just another Day for Me – Ernest Tubb
Want to talk about voices? Tubb was fast admit that he didn’t have a strong, or even particularly good voice. But that only makes it all the better.

What Do the Lonely Do at Christmas? – The Emotions
1. Drink. 2. Cry. 3. Smoke cigarettes while looking longingly out the window.

Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas? – The Staple Singers
The suspect of just who took the merry out of Christmas still remains at large to this day. If you have any information, please contact the proper authorities.

It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way – Jim Croce
Perhaps this wouldn’t automatically be classified as a Christmas song, but really, any excuse that I can get to put the great Jim Croce up here is welcome.

Don’t Believe In Christmas – The Sonics

Okay, let’s turn up the volume with this garage rock classic.

Christmas All Over Again – Tom Petty

Finally, let’s end this daily installment of a misery soaked 77 Santas with a genuine rocker loaded with cheer.

November 28, 2008

fa la la la la la la la low

It's on.

Doris Day: Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly!

fa la la la la la la la

Frank Sinatra: O Little Town of Bethlehem

Sadly I think of Phil Hartman and Sinatra's voice makes me always think sadly.

Mahalia Jackson: Silent Night, Holy Night

More soul in her left incisor than in my whole being.

Mary Gauthier: Christmas in Paradise

Do you see a pattern developing? You should see a pattern developing.

Low: Just Like Christmas

Low: Blue Christmas

Low: Taking Down the Tree

I'm going to eat some leftovers, then that rectangle of gingerbread with an applique Santa from the Swedish bakery.


November 26, 2008

Hung Where You Can See

A few classics on this, Thanksgiving Eve.

Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys: Christmas Times A-Coming

It sure is, and this is one of my favorites.

Burl Ives: Holly Jolly Christmas

I say it every year, this old man is a pervert. "Kiss her once for me"...

Diana Ross & The Supremes: Joy to the World

Great version.

My Morning Jacket: Xmas Time is Here Again

The best Christmas present I get is seeing these guys back to back December 27th and 28th

Start fasting, for tomorrow we feast!

November 24, 2008

A little suite of roses themed songs for my boy JV. Congrats to PSU--they put together a fine, unexpected (by the 'masses') season and deserve that trip to Pasadena. There is no other team I'd want to share a Big Ten title with. Well, I never want to share it with anyone, but you know what I mean.

Guns N Roses: Paradise City

JV likes to get pumped up to this.

Laura Cantrell: When the Roses Bloom again

It just seems like a logical follow up. Right? Right!?

The Grateful Dead: It Must Have Been the Roses

Off of Reckoning, a nice, stripped down live album.

Elvis Presley: Mama Liked the Roses

This marks the transition into "Christmas" music.

Nat King Cole: I Saw Three Ships

I love Nat's Christmas tunes. I bought an album of his a couple weeks ago, only to realize it wasn't the exact one I listened to growing up. It didn't have this, or a couple other songs, on it. What did I do? I went online and found the one from my childhood. What do I have on my desk? Two Nat King Cole cds that are hardly different. What does that make me? A genius.

Eddy Arnold: Jolly Old St. Nicholas

I just read that Jim Tressel likes country music. And he takes his cheeseburgers without onions. He also likes hot coffee. And mowing the lawn. This one's for him. Thank you for winning 80% of your games since coming to Columbus, for beating Michigan 5 times in a row, and 7 out of 8 total, for not having a losing season since 1995 (and even then you were at Youngstown State), for bringing me, my brother, and my buddies from home closer together for some strange reason (it was commented this weekend that we've been following you like the Grateful Dead (intertextuality!) for 7 years now), for teaching young men that while most of life is football, there is more, and, oh yeah, for bringing us our first national title since Woody. Long may you run and coach.

The Ohio State University Marching Band: Sleigh Ride


Inner Peace Along the Way

Look, I love turkey and mashed potatoes and just the general gluttonous glee of Thanksgiving. But I’m looking forward to this holiday wrapping up. Come Thursday, we’re pulling out the big guns. Of course I am talking Judas Priest week. Okay, no, I'm talking about some serious holiday tunes. Maybe some Hardrock, Coco, and Joe? Maybe some Ray Stevens? Maybe some more Beach Boys? And you better believe there will be some Darlene Love. No question about that. But in the meantime, we still have goodies up our sleeve, er, stockings.

White Christmas – Kitty Wells

Surely one of the prettiest voices in country music history. Kitty is still with us, though retired from performing in 2000. This version is beautiful.

Gift X-change – Calexico

This is a special song for PC. Buddy, this one probably doesn’t sum up how you feel today, but it is good old Americana and a fine song.

Blue Christmas Lights – Buck Owens

Here’s our third and final Buck Owens song this season. You just know that when Buck sings blue, he means it.

Back Door Santa – Clarence Carter

Surely one of the dirtiest Christmas songs, let’s just say that this Santa isn’t up to any good. I mean, he makes his runs about the break of day after making all the little girls happy.

November 23, 2008

Jingle All the Day

Penn State is headed to the Rose Bowl. Ohio State is heading… to an undetermined bowl. A great world for PC and I on this cold Sunday morning, right? Not quite.

I just read that The Weather Channel has essentially fired Dave Schwartz—that’s him in the photo. Schwartz had been with the channel since 1985, and first appeared on-air in 1991. I realize the economic times have hit all of us hard, but did The Weather Channel parent company NBC Universal really need to fire Dave Schwartz? The man was great on the air—lively, funny, passionate. Actually, he also seemed a bit strange, but I liked that. And to think, yesterday I was beyond excited to download the new Weather Channel app for my iPhone. Now, it just won’t be the same. If Dr. Greg Forbes, Dr. Steve Lyons, or my beloved Jim Cantore are at risk, I’m walking. I don’t know where to, but that was the best idle threat I could think of right there. If anyone messes with the furious sexual tension between Stephanie Abrams and Mike Bettes, my 8 p.m. hour might as well conclude by drinking poison. And please, keep Heather Tesch—I’ve followed her career since her days at WGAL in Lancaster, PA, and I always knew she was more talented than that toothpaste salesman Doug Allen. I also have a fond spot for Mark Mancuso—he’s another on-air veteran and a PSU graduate. Just an FYI—Penn State has the best meteorological program in the country. So call me what you want—balding, slightly overweight, obsessed with petty things, and apparently old at heart because I am this worked up over The Weather Channel—but I like my weather. And Dave Schwartz’s holiday season just got a little less happy. Today, there is no Santa in his honor.

Sleigh Ride – Johnny Mathis

I can’t hear this song without remembering the impersonation my cousin did a few years back. As he noted, Mathis has exact enunciation in every line.

Winter Symphony – The Beach Boys

This seems like a very underrated tune to me. There’s something perfect about—I know the snapshots of winter life are perhaps a bit too picture-esque. But I can’t help it—I like this one.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – The Melodeers

How about a do-wop Christmas?

Mistress for Christmas – AC/DC

Finally, I’d like to end with AC/DC. Usually I listen to this band to get pumped up, like for football or filing my taxes. But they’re great when you’re angry too. This one is for Dave Schwartz. Dave, I doubt you want a mistress for Christmas, but whatever you want, I hope you get it.

November 22, 2008


Yes, that’s Woody Hayes and Joe Paterno, dressed as Santa. For PC’s team and my team, both of whom have big, big games today.

We updated the links on the side of the page, check them out.

I’d like to give a shout-out to A Christmas Yuleblog. Head over there to see a great post on Stan Freberg’s “Green Chri$tma$” which is now fifty years old. I first heard this song on Dr. Demento’s radio show when I was in middle school, and I bought a Dr. Demento tape with Christmas songs, including Stan Freberg, soon after. Also, check out Hip Christmas—a very cool site (that also believes Ms. Darlene Love has the best Christmas tune ever recorded) with a fantastic MP3 player of nearly 350 songs.

Squat – Shelby Lynne

I snagged this one from Hip Christmas. I also picked up I Am Shelby Lynne this year, after watching a profile of her on CBS Sunday Morning. Not sure how I missed it so many years ago, but definitely check her out. Unfortunately, Santa didn’t bring her squat.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Tift Merritt

PC is back in his home state of Ohio today, heading to the Horseshoe. In my heart, I’m in Happy Valley, sitting in Beaver Stadium.

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – U2

Nothing tops Darlene, but U2 does a pretty fantastic version of my favorite holiday tune.

Morningtown Ride – The Seekers

There is a Christmas version of this song—I’ll post the YouTube link below. I’ve never been a huge fan of reworking a hit song to fit with Christmas. But you can’t deny that both versions will be in your head all day.

November 20, 2008

I Feel Like I'm In Paradise

Sometimes things break. Sometimes things fall apart. Sometimes the songs we upload don’t work. We do what we can. We carry on, fight the urge to succumb to frustration, and we walk through another day. The last post “Santa Kong!” is now up and running again. No idea what happened on that one. Peter, I owe you a coke. Or more songs. Actually, let’s just do more songs, that sounds easier.

Last Month of the Year – Blind Boys of Alabama
A pretty straight-forward religious song here. Don’t let that scare you though, unless you have an aversion to a raucous good time.

Listen to Otis Redding At Home During Christmas – Okkervil River

Home is where beds are made and butter is added to toast. It’s where layers of clothes are applied to my cold body.

Merry Christmas Baby – Otis Redding

I have to follow-up a tribute to Otis Redding with the real Otis Redding.

White Christmas – Otis Redding

And one more.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Jigsaw Seen

Okay, call me crazy. I know this song pretty much rips off “Paint It Black,” but dang if it’s not one of my favorite versions of this song. Download this and turn it up loud.

November 18, 2008

He Came to Life One Day

Is JV not knocking it out of the park with these drawings? Fantastic.

I'll start with a few instrumental tracks.

Mark Mothersbaugh: Snowflake Music. From the Rushmore OST.

Nicolai Dunger: Going Home For Christmas

And, as a reminder of the dangers of Psychedelic Warming:

The Grateful Dead: Cold Rain and Snow
(Don't worry, this is a studio cut--no 67 minute noodling)

I can't hold off on the Phil Spector Christmas album for very long, so here's some:

The Ronettes: Frosty the Snowman

The Crystals: Parade of the Wooden Soldiers

A little otherworldly harmony for ya:

The Louvin Brothers: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

I'm trying to stay away from the Christmas songs we all hear 77 times a day on the radio at home, in the car, at the store, etc... but I have to post this one for JV. Always reminds me of working in the admissions office (for money we immediately squandered on beer, pizza, and cds) during our last years of grad school. Probably the best job I've ever had, sadly.

Gayla Peevey: I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

And I'll close it with a country classic:

Jim Reeves: An Old Christmas Card


Santa Claus Has Run Amok!

Behold! I give you the eighth wonder (and picture in our series) of the world! Santa Kong! We found him on Candy Apple Island, captured him by carefully aiming our elephant guns at his groin and belly, and have fed him nothing but candy canes and eggnog. Now we have a giant ape hopped up on liquor and sugar. Oh yeah, he also hates being held captive. May God save us all!

I’m Gonna Lasso Santa Claus – Brenda Lee

Oh Brenda, I appreciate your willingness to help, but I’m afraid we’re going to need a bigger lasso. However, your sweet voice could surely serenade this entire city that has plunged into chaos due to the stark raving mad giant ape made up to look like Santa Claus who is hell-bent on pulverizing all of us with the brute force of his paws.

Hey Santa Claus – The Moonglows

Please, whatever you do, don’t call the ape, taunt the ape, or try to get the ape’s attention. It’s best to let him pass you by, and don’t yell out his name, even if you’re doing so in a jazzy, bouncy style with great back-up harmonies.

Santa’s Gonna Come in a Stagecoach – Buck Owens

Listen Buck, you know I love you. But that giant ape is now climbing the tallest building in town. He’s going to foul up cell phone reception when he gets to the top—that’s where the towers are. Buck, I don’t know where you’re getting this stagecoach business, even though this is one hell of song. But that ape is getting higher and higher and we live in a city. There are no stagecoaches here.

The Santa Claus Boogie – The Tractors

Oh I get it. This is like at the end of Ghostbusters, when everyone kind of dances in the demolished streets lathered in the remains of the State Puff Marshmellow Man. So when the giant ape is decimated by the high-powered weapons of our air force planes and he careens lifelessly into the ground and his body squirts all over the street, rather than saying, “Who you gonna call?” we’ll instead say, “What you gonna dance?” The Santa Claus Boogie!

November 17, 2008

A Cold Winter Day

It’s the return of our on-going 77 Santas projects! Here are numbers 4, 5, 6, and 7. Only 70 more drawings to go! Some of you might think it’s cute that my son drew these pictures. Those people would feel like silly fools however once they learned that the crude drawings are in fact done by yours truly. You’d feel even worse knowing that I shoot blanks and can’t have children, but then feel awkward when I confess that I made that last part up.

So it seems we’ve solved file-sharing problems. Hopefully the new way is working for everyone. But if you can’t get anything, leave a comment. We will at first curse at our ineptitude, then weep over the hopelessness of our efforts, but eventually we’ll muster the courage to confront life’s problems.

The Man with All the Toys – The Beach Boys

This comes from a seminal album here at 77 Santas, and this is one of my favorite tracks. The harmonies on this, as with most Beach Boys material from this era, are fantastic. It’s short, fast, and perfect.

Santa Looked A lot Like Daddy – Buck Owens

No one sings this like the late, great Buck Owens—does it get any better than when Buck says “down the chimney”? I don’t think so. And there’s nothing sexier than role-playing at Christmastime.

Up On the House Top – Gene Autry

I remember singing this in elementary school, when the entire school had an assembly for Christmastime. One section would sing, “Ho, ho, ho” and the rest would take the chorus. Since my last name ends in a V, I usually sat next to Jennifer Wagner, who smelled as though her father routinely spilled kerosene from their heater on her clothes.

Cold Winter Day – Blind Willie McTell

This isn’t a seasonal tune, but it’s bone-achingly cold here in Virginia tonight. A gray flannel sky clung to the ground, and it felt that snow could fall any moment. Unfortunately, nothing white just yet. Blind Willie McTell knows all about cold winter days—it was the freezing cold that claimed his sight. He vowed revenge against Old Man Winter to his dying day.


It's Michigan week, so my mind is occupied. Still, I can post a few songs here and there.

The Ohio State Marching Band: Sleigh Ride

This band rocks:

Black Mountain: Heart of Snow

A couple of old 77 Santas classics to close it out:

The Flaming Lips: Christmas at the Zoo

The Band: Christmas Must Be Tonight (Alternate Take)


November 16, 2008

Snow Place Like Home

Ho, ho, ho. I was in Italy for the past week or so and returned on Thursday with a nasty cold that had me down for the count. To all those on that United flight—I’m very sorry you are now probably ill because of me. If it’s any consolation, I watched Get Smart on the airplane and didn’t like it. So we all suffered on that flight. I was able to secure some myrrh and recover from this cold—you know, myrrh isn’t used nearly as much today as in Biblical times, and that’s a shame. The stuff heals better than the most powerful antibiotics.

Sorry for the delay, but I’m here for good now, ready to tear this joint up until Christmas. PC reports that the snow is falling in Chi-town. The cold has reached Central Virginia, but no white precip just yet. I’ve attempted to contact Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel for a special 77 Santas forecast. Thus far, he has not returned any of my letters, emails, phone calls, or personal visits to his office and home. I’m sure he’s just recovering from hurricane season and will get back to me as soon as he can.

But I’m in the mood for a good old fashioned snow-down.

Purple Snowflakes – Marvin Gaye
I’ve never seen purple snowflakes. Perhaps this is something I should also ask Mr. Cantore about. I believe it might have something to do with global warming or psychedelic drugs. Perhaps a combination of both.

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Vaughn Monroe
This is my favorite version of the song. Monroe sounds like he’s three sheets to the wind, and there’s just a relaxed feeling to this one.

On A Snowy Christmas Night – Elvis Presley
Little known fact: while Elvis was recording this song, he insisted that sawdust painted white be dropped lightly from the studio ceiling. By the fourth take, Fidge McPadgit, the midget bassist, had to be placed on top of the piano to avoid drowning in the fake snowflakes. Luckily, Elvis nailed this song on the eighth take, saving the studio band from sawdust suffocation.

You're Living in a Fantasy

Excited because I found The New Possibility: John Fahey's Soli Christmas Album/Christmas with John Fahey Vol. II at the record store yesterday, I offer these:

John Fahey

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Fantasy

Christ's Saints of God Fantasy

Christmas Fantasy--Part II

And, a poem by the wonderful Frank O'Hara:

Fantasy (dedicated to the health of Allen Ginsberg)

And, since many of us are walking out into the year's first snow, a song from the Kingsbury Manx, off their first album, which sounds and feels a lot like winter.

Piss Diary


November 13, 2008

Fleet Foxes: White Winter Hymnal

Current darlings. Much deserved--they make gorgeous music.

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy: Cursed Sleep

This is what the night before Christmas is like, right?

Close it out with two guitar driven, instrumental numbers by two masters:

Willie Nelson: Christmas Blues

John Fahey: Good King Wenceslas

Keep checking in--JV is back tonight!

November 11, 2008

Ok, I'm going to try some tunes, using Yousendit, good for 100 downloads or 7 days. Please let us know how this works. I do not have all of the same songs as JV, so you will have to wait for him to return to the US for those. Sorry. But I have some of those songs and plenty of other good ones.

My Morning Jacket: The Xmas Curtain

Darlene Love: (Christmas) Baby Please Come Home

Helene Smith: Willing and Able

And, to get us ready for the ultimate stocking stuffer, Chinese Democracy, I give you this, which is the forecast today in Chicago:

Guns N Roses: November Rain

I'll do my best to post as much as I can while school is still in. Then, when break hits, look for more.
PS, this is out today!

November 03, 2008

Tiding of Comfort and Joy

Long story short—PC and JV both had some bad news today. So I need some comfort and joy. Here is a trio of somber Christmas tunes.

John Fahey was an absolute master guitar player, and a true fan of pre-World War II Blues. Check out anything on the Revenant label if you don’t believe me. Here’s a simple, beautiful version of one of my favorite winter tunes.

In the Bleak Midwinter – John Fahey

For my money, George Jones has one of the best voices in not just country, but all music. There’s such deep loneliness in his voice and delivery.

Lonely Christmas Call – George Jones

This is one of my favorite holiday songs, and there are plenty of great versions. This is certainly one of the saddest out there.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Pedro the Lion

No post tomorrow—go vote.

Any feedback on the Rapidshare usage? We’re going to have to update to something bigger soon, but I just wanted people’s thoughts. Any preferences over this or YouSendIt or another service I’m not aware of?

November 02, 2008

Need Some Ice and an Extension Cord? Vota Santa!

PC will be along in a few day—he’s educating some of today’s students. And he loves it. But today, I’m back with a few more. How about that Texas win last night? Maybe an early Christmas present for Penn State fans?

A nice, mellow instrumental track is up first. Okay, so you might not have snow, but the leaves are probably falling. Just imagine those are snowflakes.

Snowfall – Skitch Henderson and the “Tonight Show” Orchestra

This is really a modern classic in my book—each year, I love this song more and more. It’s strange, heartfelt, and funny.

Merry Christmas from the Family – Robert Earl Keen

When this guy says that Santa is coming to town, you better believe that he means it. That’s a passionate delivery!

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town – The Harmony Grits

November 01, 2008

Raise the Christmas Curtain!

Halloween was yesterday. Today’s November 1. And in my book, that’s the start of the holiday season. If it’s too early for you, come back when you’re ready. But here at 77 Santas, we’re ready to kick-off the season. And I know PC promised some songs post-Election Day, but what can I say? I’m like a kid on Christmas morning—I just can’t wait.

So let’s raise the Christmas curtain!

Xmas Curtain (Live) – My Morning Jacket

You might notice the picture—I’m hand-drawing 77 Santas this year. I don’t expect any of them to be good. But maybe Gayla will see all 77?

77 Santas – Gayla Peevey

And what would this season be without the best Christmas song ever recorded? Darlene, close out our first day…

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love