December 23, 2008

Hate To Close Up Without a Proper Goodbye, But...

I am heading out this afternoon for Pennsylvania--an ice storm is in the forecast and I need to leave a day early. I know all of you will understand. Thanks for a great holiday season. Have a merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and safe travels all around. See you back here for Christmas in July!

December 22, 2008

The Man With All the Toys

It seems to me, 77 Santas has posted over 200 Christmas songs this year. And we’ll be over 80,000 hits shortly. The map is blossoming with red, though apparently the mid-west just isn’t into Christmas? We’ll target that area next year. Here’s the penultimate post for our holiday season. Back tomorrow with my fifteen favorites for this year, and then Santa heads out in his sleigh.

The Man with All the Toys – The Beach Boys

Short and sweet.

Holly, Jolly Christmas – The Old 97s

This still has the “kiss her once for me” line, which as you know, PC and I find creepy.

All Alone on Christmas – Darlene Love

From that holiday classic, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York!

I Know What You Want for Christmas – Kay Martin and Her Bodyguards

Truly one of the dirtiest Christmas recordings ever made, and all without uttering a single bad word.

Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis – Tom Waits

Eric V., as always, this one is for you.

Please Come for Christmas – Charles Brown

Nobody sings it like Chuck.

Run Rudolph Run – Chuck Berry

A true rock classic.

Call Collect on Christmas – Del McCoury

A true bluegrass classic.

In the Bleak Mid-Winter – Sarah McLachlan

And it’s about 10 degrees here tonight. If that ain’t bleak, I don’t know what is!

Here’s a little video of Darlene from Letterman in 1995, arguably the best performance. Remember to watch her Tuesday night!

December 21, 2008

Only Three Days Left!

I’ll be closing up shop here on Tuesday evening. Until then, I’ll try to get requests and reposts up, but I’m also going to be posting some of my favorites.

Thanks for all the great comments on the post yesterday—it means a lot that so many people follow this site. And thanks for the requests. I hope I hit on all of them, or at least tried. I hate to be that Santa who delivers something that’s kind of like what you wanted, but in some cases, that’s what you’re getting. Some of the songs I have, some I don’t—and with PC away in cold, cold Cleveland, I’m on my own these days. But hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams

Indeed, no matter else happens, it is the most wonderful time of the year. As Stephen Colbert said, there are a lot worse things to believe in.

77 Santas – Gayla Peevey
Oh, Gayla. I believe I’m on Santa Number 39—and I think that’s just about half-way and a good cliff-hanger for next season.

The Christmas Waltz – Peggy Lee
Smokey and sexy.

The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) – Alvin and the Chipmunks
For the record, I never once received a hula-hoop for Christmas.

Lonely Christmas – Ferlin Husky
He sure delivers on this one.

There’s Trouble Brewin’ – Jack Scott
Makes me want to drink lots of coffee and read beatniks.

Please Daddy, Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas – Kelly Willis and Bruce Robinson

This is one of the saddest out there—and I prefer it to John Denver’s.

(Christmas Is) The Saddest Day of the Year – Jill Sobule
I picked this up from The Late Greats, a very good blog you can find on our links list.

Mama’s Twistin’ with Santa Claus – Mark Anthony
This one is great fun.

Carol of the Bells – John Fahey
This one is for PC—we both love us some Fahey. He was a master.

Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) – Darlene Love
I know—nobody requested this song but me. Well, this is just to serve as a reminder that you to watch The Late Show with David Letterman on Tuesday night. Dave will welcome Jay Thomas and he’ll tell his always entertaining Lone Ranger story—and of course they’ll try to knock the meatball off the tree. But the highlight of the night (and honestly, as silly as this sounds, one of the highlights of my entire year) is the performance by Darlene Love. Last year, the writer’s strike sent The Late Show into hiatus. But prior to that, I hadn’t missed a performance for well over a decade. I love this song so much it hurts. And there is something about seeing Darlene perform this live that just warms me inside and brings a tear to my eye. When I die, it doesn’t matter to me what anyone says or who carries my casket, but I want this song played. I don’t care if I kick in the dead heat of July—play this song for me.

My mom and I always watch Dave together that night. It’s one of those traditions (like going to see Penn State basketball with my friend Rud) that I’ve done for years. To some people, the stuff might seem silly, but it means the world to me, and it’s something I look forward all year long. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it home to see Penn State win by 28-points this afternoon. And sadly, I will not be sitting living room with my mom to watch Dave together—the first time ever. I guess she can tape it. Not quite the same, but at least we can see it together, which is certainly better than not at all.

December 20, 2008

Santa Can't Stay

Where would this blog be without PC? The past week, I’ve done nothing but neglect this blog, and it’s inexcusable. Therefore, as punishment, I am making myself eat several Andes Mints. Okay, so it’s not punishment, it’s delicious. I’m going to try my best to put on a smile and take us into the holiday.

X-Mas (Sure Don’t Feel Like It) – The Dogmatics

It kind of does, but not really. This has been my jam this morning! And it's the 20th of December! And it's been raining lately and might rain again today!

Christmas in My Home Town – Charley Pride

Eventually, I’ll get there. (Sorry for the skip.)

I’d like to See My Mom For Christmas – Bob Jones with Williams Sextette

I would.

Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) – Deathcab for Cutie

The snow’s coming down, I’m watching it fall…

Christmas Is Coming Soon – Blitzen Trapper

One of the better albums from 2008.

This Christmas – Donny Hathaway

You know what you should do when something gets you down? Fire up this Donny Hathaway song—it’s bliss.

Santa Can’t Stay – Dwight Yoakam

Wish that he could.

Here Comes Christmas – Bill Kelly

Five days away.

Okay, tomorrow will have some hits, requests, and reposts—I’ve got Gayla and Andy Williams waiting. Anything else I’m missing? And there’s going to be some great Santa pictures tomorrow—just wait!

December 19, 2008

I want to see snowflakes fall. I want to see Santa Claus.

77 Santas reached its 77 thousandth hit yesterday and we thank you.

This will be my last post. My bus home from Chicago was canceled, so I'll make a positive out of a negative and leave you with one more stocking of tunes. Some I haven't posted yet, some we have posted but love, some are requests fulfilled, and some that are just my favorites.

We'll start with the Statler Brothers. Every Christmas they smoke cigarettes and watch Captain Kangaroo.

The Statler Brothers: Away in a Manger

The Statler Brothers: An Old Fashioned Christmas

Mavis Staples: Christmas Vacation Theme
Per your request, Anonymous. Can't see the line, can you Anonymous?

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

I mean, Come on! Wow.

The Emotions: What Do the Lonely Do at Christmas?

(Repost, but such a wonderful song. One of my faves.)

I don't have Andy Williams' "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" but I have these. Hopefully JV can fill that request.

Andy Williams: Angels We Have Heard On High

Andy Williams: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Dude's got an angel fetish.

I can't make my last post without at least one song from the Spector album.

The Ronettes: Sleigh Ride

And this Fahey album, which you should all own.

John Fahey: Joy to the World

John Fahey: Medley: Hark, the Herald Angels Sing/O Come All Ye Faithful

The fact that he uses a comma after Hark and Andy Williams uses an exclamation point proves the fetish theory. Don't get me started on theories. I love beans. Big, fat, juicy beans. Another theory: Burl Ives=pervert.

My Morning Jacket: The Xmas Curtain
We opened the season with this curtain, and with this curtain I shall close it (for me, at least).

(Aside to JV: Jay, the Ventures "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" is on Music Choice! Nice!)

I have a Nat King Cole fetish. Allow me to indulge it.

Nat King Cole: Hark, The Herald Angels Sing
You'll note the comma, then you will note that my theory is inching closer and closer to fact. Wait a minute, the cd case has a comma. The mp3 file has an exclamation point. This has just become a conspiracy theory.

Nat King Cole: Silent Night

I'll end with my favorite Christmas tune. It's by Marvin Gaye, which explains most of it. But it's relevant in ways most Christmas songs aren't. I want to come home for Christmas, too. And I get to, tomorrow. There are way too many soldiers who don't get to come home for Christmas because of a bullshit war.

Marvin Gaye: I Want to Come Home For Christmas

It's been another great season. Thanks, JV--you're my boy. Thank you, dear listeners.

Merry Christmas to All, And to All a Good Night!!!!!!!!!

December 17, 2008

A Mother Tonight is Rocking

Ok, I've got some ground to cover--I've been out of town/busy/drinking and I'm going back out of town in a couple days, so this is my chance to bring it. If you have any requests of previously posted songs, let me know. I might repeat a few in these posts as well. JV will repost Peevey.

Loretta Lynn: Country Christmas

Otis Redding: White Christmas

The Waitresses: Christmas Wrapping

The Kinks: Father Christmas

John Fahey:

The First Noel

Oh, Holy Night

Russian Christmas Overture (Duet with Richard Ruskin)

Bing Crosby: Mele Kalikimaka

This song makes me want to fantasize about a woman in a red bikini

Low: Silent Night

Nat King Cole: A Cradle in Bethlehem

This is becoming one of my favorite Xmas tunes, especially Nat's version.

Mahalia Jackson: Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

Doris Day: Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly

Sing it Russ...

Eddy Arnold: Jolly Old St. Nicholas

Jose Feliciano: We Three Kings of Orient Are

Elvis Presley:

Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)

White Christmas

Willie Nelson:

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Winter Wonderland

And I'll round it out with a little more Nat:

Nat King Cole:

Caroling, Caroling

O Tannenbaum

Ok, I'll be back tomorrow with even more. Maybe even two posts.


December 16, 2008

Back tomorrow

Sorry for the silence--it's been an especially busy holiday season on my end. Back with a batch tomorrow.

December 14, 2008

Bells Are Ringing, Old Folks Singing, Happy Holiday!

Let’s close out the weekend with a nice little post for your bandwidth-busting enjoyment. PC should return tomorrow.

Silent Night Rumble – Jackie and the Cedrics

This sounds like something that might play before a Christmas Eve downtown fight between greasers and punks.

Christmas Times A Coming – Jerry Reed

Sadly, we lost Jerry Reed this year. While this song doesn’t highlight Reed’s fantastic guitar abilities, I always love to hear the Snowman’s raspy voice.

Let Me Sleep – Pearl Jam

Their 1991 Christmas single. You know, it doesn’t matter to me what day it is, I just want to sleep.

The Spirit of Christmas – Ray Charles

All I can see is Clark Griswold in his attic, wrapped in women’s clothing, and watching old home movies.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Los Straightjackets

A little surf instrumental, with a sample of “Runaway” by the late, great Del Shannon thrown in the middle.

Happy Holiday – The Shells

If you’re going to download one song today (it’s a tough call), make it this one. At just under two minutes, this is a perfect Christmas love song. Grab your significant other, crank this thing up, and dance around the tree.

December 12, 2008

Christmas Bells, Those Christmas Bells!

Apologies for the silence on our end. It’s the holidays and sometimes things get busy. Hopefully this will be a weekend full of some fantastic posts. So to hell with talking, let’s start the rocking.

Merry Christmas Baby – Ike and Tina Turner

Let’s kick off today with a rocker. Tina—belt it out for us.

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee

Originally, this song’s lyrics were about rockin’ around the old oak tree. It primarily involved acorns and squirrels at a box social. But a producer suggested some changes. No matter what the lyrics would have been, Brenda Lee would have made them sound beautiful.

Christmas On the Beach – Irene

Seems like a nice place. It’s 30 degrees here but I can smell that salt-water air.

The Christmas Song – The Raveonettes

Each year when I hear this one, it sounds just perfect. This is a highly underappreciated band. Check them out.

Snoopy’s Christmas – The Royal Guardsmen

Okay, a few weeks back, I said that I didn’t like hit songs that were altered a bit to fit with Christmas time. Well, I make an exception here. I hunted the radio dial for this song as a kid—it seemed like they rarely played it, and that made when they did all the more special.

Snoopy vs. The Red Baron – The Royal Guardsmen

Here’s the original. So it’s not about Christmas but it’s still great. 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or more...

December 09, 2008

He's Everywhere! He's Everywhere!

The posts and comments are really amazing. I’m still floored that someone all the way in Malta can download Christmas songs from a rag-tag little blog that, in all honesty, we look forward to doing each year. Come May, PC and I will be talking about college football and Christmas music. This is the best season of the year, no doubt about that.

Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis – Neko Case

I know Tom Waits purists will say that no one can this song like that great man, but for my money, no modern recording artist has a better voice than Neko Case. Not too much holiday spirit here, but some fantastic slice of life observations. It's also the perfect mix of funny/sad, which the best art utilizes.

Calling On Mary – Aimee Mann

Perhaps my favorite off Aimee Mann’s fantastic holiday album. There’s some true melancholy in this song, but it’s beautiful.

Frosty the Snowman – Porter Wagoner

The Wagon-master himself brings it on Frosty. A tender, gentle rendition.

Donde Esta Santa Clause – Augie Rios

If I ever get around to getting a PhD, this will no doubt be one of my study requirements when it comes to the foreign language requirement of my degree. Unfortunately, there are only about a dozen Spanish words.

Santa Claus Is Watching You – Ray Stevens

Yessir, it’s the rare long version of this song. One of my all-time favorite holiday songs—I mean, does anything beat that chorus? And after Americans discovered that their government encourages domestic spying, it took on a whole new meaning for me. He really might be watching me.

Reposts and Requests:

Last Month of the Year – Blind Boys of Alabama

Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Steve and Eydie

(Okay, not technically a request, but this is the only Steve and Eydie I have—and I think this track is making it’s 77 Santas debut!)

A Fairy Tale They Say

Thanks for the comments and compliments! We aim to please, so here are some re-posts (that I have, JV will take care of the others by this evening) and some new tunes. Do please let us know if there are any problems with the files, or if you have further requests.

Lynyrd Skynyrd: Run Run Rudolph

The Crystals: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

A little more Spector magic. If I could watch Goodfellas today, I would.

The Crystals: Parade of the Wooden Soldiers

The Crystals: Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Darlene Love: White Christmas

And, to continue the Hitsville, USA theme:

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: Jingle Bells

Diana Ross & The Supremes: Joy to the World

The Jackson 5: Frosty the Snowman

Stevie Wonder: One Little Christmas Tree

The Temptations: The Little Drummer Boy

The Ronettes: Sleigh Ride

I want to stop, but I just can't.

Darlene Love: Winter Wonderland

Phil Spector & Artists: Silent Night

This post is for my parents, who raised me on Motown and other soul musics.

December 08, 2008

We're Not Tuckered Out

We love you guys. The site is so popular that we can barely keep the songs up before the bandwidth runs out. We could pay money to have a better server, but quite honestly, we are very poor. You see, we went to graduate school for creative writing (yes, we know there is irony here, since my posts are usually riddled with typos), and honestly, that doesn’t lead to a six-figure salary no matter what the economy is like. So if there’s an older song that you’d like reposted, let us know! Leave it as a comment and we’ll get it back up as soon as we can. Sorry for that.

Thanks to PC for posting John Lennon. We feature it every year on this day. And, sadly, each year the message still remains relevant.

Christmas Eve Can Kill You – The Everly Brothers

But let’s hope not.

I’ll Be Home with Bells On – Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers

This song is always special to me. I remember that my dad absolutely this song. And it makes me nostalgic and it makes me yearn to get back to Pennsylvania this Christmas.

Another Christmas At Home – Eux Autres

This one has really grown on me over the years. There’s something frantic about this, which I always feel when I get home—never enough time to see everyone that I want to see. Hell—that I need to see to retain sanity.

Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) – Arab Strap

This is about as somber as one could make a Darlene Love. It highlights the sadness that’s present underneath that great wall of sound on the original. At the end of the song, her baby (or in this case, his) has not returned.

Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) – Darlene Love

Yep, I already posted this, way back in November. There’s quite simply not a better Christmas out there. And someday I just need to hear this.

Pretty Paper – Roy Orbison

No one ever sang like this man, and no one ever will.

Spooky – Classics IV

Not a Christmas song, but I saw that Dennis Yost, the group’s lead singer, died. This is probably their most famous song, and damned catchy at that.

A New One Just Begun

28 years ago today, John Lennon was murdered. I'll start out with a tribute to him, and follow with some other 'classic rock' Christmas jams. RIP, sir.

John Lennon: Happy Christmas (War is over) (Well, no)

Bruce Springsteen: Merry Christmas Baby

He's called the boss for a reason. This is one of those songs I don't mind hearing on the radio every day during December. This also marks the rare occasion when Springsteen doesn't say "Mister" in a song, so enjoy that, too.

Eddie Money: Everybody Loves Christmas

Canned Heat: Christmas Blues

Which rhymes with Christmas Shoes, the worst, most despicable Christmas (or any) song, ever. Every time I hear it I get mad.

Lynyrd Skynyrd: Run Run Rudolph

My thumb, middle, and ring finger are hidden. My index and my pinkie are pointing straight up.

John Lennon: Give Peace a Chance


December 06, 2008

Blissful Time (UPDATED 12/7)

Ok--sorry about the troubles. Here is my post, revised, fixed, bettered, improved, more sure of itself, etc.

Gene Autry: He'll Be Coming Down the Chimney

Dolly Parton: Hard Candy Christmas

Loretta Lynn: It Won't Seem Like Christmas

The Louvin Brothers: It's Christmas Time

Gillian Welch: Winter's Come and Gone

Eddy Arnold: Up on the Housetop

And, for your troubles, a few bonus tracks:

The Andrews Sisters: Christmas Island

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: Jingle Bells

Lou Monte: Dominic the Christmas Donkey


Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

It’s been a little while since I made a post and hopefully this massive entry will make up for that. Sometimes the Santa pictures take some time, though I’m sure you wouldn’t believe it! This is one of our annual theme posts and it’s one of my favorites. I’ll give a shout-out today to Chris Willman—I hope you’re still reading!

A few days back, PC and I posted some sad Christmas songs. I’m going to call “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” the most depressing Christmas song ever written. It was originally even more somber than the version that we know today.

The song was written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane. Judy Garland made the song famous in her 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis. Garland found the original lyrics too sad for a Christmas song. There is a fatalistic view on the world—there is talk of everyone being together, of muddling through, friends once gone who will come back. It reminds me a hymn almost, that promises a great reward in Heaven, where all friends and family will one day meet each other again.

In fact, the original version, which Hugh Martin didn’t want to rewrite, did include religious undertones.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

It may be your last

Next year we may all be living in the past

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Pop that champagne cork

Next year we may all be living in New York.

No good times like the olden days,

Happy golden days of yore,

Faithful friends who were dear to us

Will be near to us no more.

But at least we all will be together

If the Lord allows.

From now on we'll have to muddle through somehow.

So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Most versions that we hear today are a combination of these original lyrics. However, in 2001, Martin wrote a version called “Have Yourself A Blessed Little Christmas.” It is a much more sacred version. Also, it’s been noted that the chord progression to “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is strikingly similar to “Blue Moon,” which had been written ten years earlier. The only difference is additional chord progressions at the ending and bridge.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Judy Garland

Garland’s version, which we’ve saved for this post, probably has the most recognizable lyrics. There is a tender delicateness to this version—that quiet, music box-like introduction that draws the listener into the word. And her voice is heartbreaking and beautiful.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,

Let your heart be light

Next year,

All our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Make the yuletide gay

Next year all our troubles will be miles away

Once again as in olden days

Happy golden days of yore

Faithful friends who were dear to us

Will be near to us once more

Someday soon we all will be together

If the fates allow.

Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow

So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Frank Sinatra

Ah, but there are even more versions. Frank Sinatra recorded a lighter version. It’s a bit happier with updated lyrics. Unfortunately, I don’t have this version of the song after a few years of searching (anyone out there care to help?). But I have another version by the Chairman. If Frank’s singing, it can’t be that bad, right? The violin at the beginning lightens into a warm, slightly jazz-like swing. Here are those lyrics that Sinatra tweaked a bit.

Christmas future is far away

Christmas past is past

Christmas present is here today

Bringing joy that may last

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,

Let your heart be light

From now on,

our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,

Make the Yule-tide gay,

From now on,

our troubles will be miles away.

Here we are as in olden days,

Happy golden days of yore.

Faithful friends who are dear to us

Gather near to us once more.

Through the years

We all will be together,

If the Fates allow

Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.

And have yourself A merry little Christmas now.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Hem

Hem’s version was posted on The Late Greats a few years back (check them out, for a great Christmas mix, plus some other great songs as well). Driven by a piano, it’s a pretty straight forward.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – The Carpenters

The Carpenters have a great Christmas album. Their version features a nice little introduction by Karen Carpenter which I don’t believe is in other versions, though I might be mistaken.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – The Pretenders

This comes from the first volume of A Very Special Christmas.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Andre Gagnon

This is an artist that I know little about. Gagnon’s version is a surprisingly beautiful, all instrumental version of the song. Once again, a piano drives the song.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Nat King Cole

The King of Christmas songs in my book, Cole’s golden voice rises above the somewhat cheesy synthesizers here. Of all the versions, this one seems the most dated in terms of production values. But still, nothing compares with the man’s voice.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Sarah McLachlan

This version is melancholy beyond compare. The little instrumental flairs between verses are beautiful and the piano is beautiful when mixed with bells, strings, and the quiet cymbals.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Bright Eyes

A delicate and straight-forward version of the song. Stark and spare.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Johnny Maestro and The Brooklyn Bridge

Doo-wop and without music—striking and in its harmonies.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Ruth Browne

Ruth Browne was one of the 50s best unsung R&B singers. This version is slow and haunting—you can hear that pain in her voice.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Aimee Mann

If Aimee Mann is singing, it’s probably not happy. This one sure ain’t.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Mel Torme

Judy Garland has the best version of the song, but this one is my favorite, originally featured in Home Alone. Torme was called The Velvet Fog, and for good reason—that voice is smooth. Fans of the television show Night Court might remember that Harry Anderson’s character loved Mel Torme—props to 30 Rock for the Night Court reference a few weeks back! For some reason, my father loved Nigh Court and Mel Torme. My mother and I saw Home Alone twice in December of 1990. My father had been dead for a few months by that point. It had been a hard year and we hadn’t laughed that much in a long time. Even though I had heard the song plenty of times, when Torme’s song played at the end, I actually listened to the lyrics for the first time. The promise that next year would be better, that someday everyone would be together, and that troubles would be out of sight—it stuck with me. Composer John Williams produced this version and adds his unmistakable instrumentation behind Torme’s warm and endearing vocals. Every time I watch Home Alone, I am reminded of sitting in a dark theater with my mother and laughing until it hurt.