December 17, 2010

Gee Whiz, It's Christmas Break!

Loyal Underlings,

I officially finish my semester today. It's been a long one. I'm tired, I'm cold, I'm haunted by Krampus, but I'm going to do my best to drop musical wonder in this last week.

So, here goes:

I was shopping for JV's Xmas present yesterday, and I found myself a most wonderful treat: Christmas with The Louvin Brothers. I will post from this often, as they are one of my favorites:

The Louvin Brothers:

The Friendly Beasts

Good Christian Men Rejoice

And I'll keep the country flavor going with The Texas Troubador, Ernest Tubb. Ernest Tubb was originally cast to play Krampus in an epic movie starring Orson Welles called Get Off My Wife, Krampus! but the funding was pulled at the last minute. Also, both Tubb and Welles had gout at the same time, which was a first in Hollywood. Until The Expendables. Hey-O!

Ernest Tubb:

White Christmas

Merry Texas Christmas, You All!!

For JV, who loves "Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)", I offer:

Joe Tex:

I'll Make Every Day Christmas (For My Woman)

Man, that Joe Tex sure loves (parenthetical phrases).

And from the same hallowed Stax/Atlantic ground:

Carla Thomas:

Gee Whiz, It's Christmas

That's all for now. May Krampus haunt us all.


December 15, 2010

Hardrock, Coco, and Joe

Snow!  Snow is on the way to Virginia.  Apparently it’s been snowing in PC’s neck of the woods for quite a while.  I know, I know—how are we supposed to glean that from an M.I.A. leader?  I think he’s putting together something special out there in the Windy City.  Word on the street is that it’s a time machine.

Really, this time of year, what better kind of twist is there?  Well, perhaps twisting the lid off a nice box of cookies.

Funky, groovy, bluesy, boogie.

And now, our annual feature on Hardrock, Coco, and Joe, an undisputable holiday classic. 

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.

December 13, 2010

Make This a Book Christmas

Full disclosure here: PC and I are both writers.  Words and books are our lives—aside from Christmas music, of course.  It’s not just what we do, it’s who we are.  And, this Christmas, I’m going to try my best to keep the holiday presents exclusively to books.  I’m old-fashioned.  None of those touch-screens or electronic screens for me.  Give me a nice, thick book to hold in my hands. Sure, everyone knows Jonathan Franzen has a new book out—I mean, he was on the cover of Newsweek and I think they put his face on the moon even.  I’m not sure.  But there’s plenty of others you should check out.  And, in an effort to push my tastes on you before getting to the songs today, I’m offering up some suggestions.  Naturally, you can buy all of these on Amazon.  Or, you could visit IndieBound and find your local independent retailer.

Citrus County – John Brandon
Named after the Florida county where the novel is set, this book features some great and disturbed characters.  There’s a kidnapping, an apocalyptic uncle, and a depressed teacher.  If you like dark, offbeat humor, this is a great read.

Elliot Allagash – Simon Rich
This is the type of book I would have loved if I were in middle or high school.  Well, I’m nearly thirty and still loved it.  Rich skewers high society and high school.  Acerbic and witty.

Half A Life – Darin Strauss
A great memoir from Strauss dealing with the high school classmate he accidentally killed years ago.  It’s dark, powerful stuff that ultimately ends uplifting as well.  When tragedies happen, how do we let them define our life and continue?

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky – Heidi Durrow
This is a great story dealing with biracial identity.  Beautiful, moving, funny, and an amazing debut.  And, if you can get out to one of her readings, do so.  She’s a trip.

Safe from the Sea – Peter Geye
I’m a sucker for father-son tales.  Add in a great locale, lyrical beauty, and heart, and I’m an extra sucker.  Geye is a great writer, knocking it out of the park in his debut.

Exley – Brock Clarke
This is an ambitious, brain-teasing novel from Clark.  Any writers who takes on such heady subjects certainly deserves respect.  But pulling it off deserves praise.

The Canals of Mars – Gary Fincke
A memoir in essays.  I’m a huge fan of personal essays—and these are from one of the best writers of the genre.  A blue-collar upbringing in Pittsburgh.  Funny, touching, and thoughtful.

Skippy Dies – Paul Murray
Set in a Catholic boarding school in Ireland, this is a door-stopper at nearly 700 pages.  But it’s executed perfectly.  And is also side-splittingly funny.

Nothing Left to Burn – Jay Varner
Hey, what can I say?  I love to self-promote.  I won’t review myself, but I’ll tell you what USA Today said: “Unadorned but vivid, Varner's coming-of-age story unravels family secrets about firefighting and arson. It's painful and poignant ... [Varner] reminds us that few lives, even those we think we know best, are easily understood.”

On to the songs!  Onward, I say!

A chunk of punk.

Welcome it with open arms and a glorious collage of sound.

I can’t decide if this song is tongue-in-cheek or just truly depressing.  I’m leaning toward depressing.

There’s no debate on this one—it’s full-on depressing.  But it’s a stunner.  Beautifully realized lyrics.  Replace St. Paul with whatever town you lived in during your twenties and this one really hits home.  This one is getting heavy rotation this year.

Another downer.  What’s Christmas without drug addiction and alcoholism?  But it’s The Pogues and deserves a listen—as usual, it gets pretty raucous. 

December 10, 2010

The Hits

You want the hits?  You got em.  Two hours of them.  Over at, I’ve been running a podcast for a few months now called VarnerCast!.  This is the second podcast we’ve run this holiday season at 77 Santas.  Download it, crank it up, and enjoy while eating some cookies and sipping eggnog.  Throughout, you’ll hear some clips from our favorite Christmas movies.

And don’t forget the drawing contest!  The deadline is technically today, but we’re feeling generous.  Get them in my Monday, December 13 and you’ll still be set.

Santa Claus Is Back In Town – Elvis Presley
Little Saint Nick – The Beach Boys
Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms
Christmas Time Is Here – Vince Gauraldi Trio
Christmas Is the Time To Say I Love You – Billy Squier
X-Mas Curtain – My Morning Jacket
Christmas All Over Again – Tom Petty
Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy – Buck Owens
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas – Gayla Peevey
Dominick the Christmas Donkey – Lou Monte
Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives
Little Drummer Boy – David Bowie and Bing Crosby
I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Frank Sinatra
This Time of the Year – Brook Benton
Calling On Mary – Aimee Mann
Purple Snowflakes – Marvin Gaye
Sleigh Ride – The Boston Pops
Up On the House Top – Gene Autry
White Christmas – The Drifters
Let Is Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Vaughn Monroe
Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Dean Martin
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams
Please Come Home for Christmas – Charles Brown
Christmas Must Be Tonight – The Band
Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Judy Garland
Merry Christmas Baby – Otis Redding
Just Like Christmas – Low
Feliz Navidad – Jose Feliciano
Merry Christmas from the Family – Robert Earl Keen
Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis – Tom Waits
Mele Kalikimaka – Bing Crosby
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love
The Christmas Waltz – Peggy Lee

December 09, 2010

Silver & Gold Onions

Booker T. & The MG's will put plenty of yule in your log or fireplace, depending. As will Mr. T.

Silver Bells

Jingle Bells

Santa Claus is Coming to Town


December 08, 2010

For Rich and for Poor

Thirty years ago tonight the world heard the news that John Lennon was murdered in New York City.  

There’s little else that I can add that hasn’t already been said.  Lennon was a complicated man, but his songs—as a Beatle and as a solo artist—endure.  And the message to the best of those songs are very simple: enjoy each day, spread love, and never take anything for granted.  Dismiss it as cheese, but it’s true.  If all of us lived by those principals, the world would be a better place.

December 07, 2010

Thumpity Thump Thump

Howdy! Think of this as a low, bellowing horn from out of the fog. I'm returning to the shore. My first post of songs will come... today? Tomorrow? This weekend? You'll just have to keep checking in to find out. In the meantime,


December 05, 2010

Let Me Be Your Christmas Toy

A short one today, folks.  Been a busy weekend here at North Pole, knocking out a lot of work.  A coming post will be a little gift guide—I’m working on something, and it’s taking a little while to put together.  But, leave a comment and let us know what your ultimate Christmas wishlist included.

A bow full of soul.

It’s about time we get a post up by these guys.

What in the devil is you driving at?  A little does of old-school blues.

Remember, these songs only stay up for a brief time, so get em while they're hot.  And get those Santa contest drawings in!

December 03, 2010

That Christmas Spirit

PC (who should be joining us shortly, I promise) says that I’m too cheery on 77 Santas.  I’m too pleasant.  I’m too smiley.  Well, what can I say?  The holidays just bring out the best in me.  Even if you’re not religious, you have to respect the holiday.  And there’s just something about the spirit that’s contagious.  Today, I was at the gas station and Gayla Peevey was playing over the radio.  How do you not smile at that?  (I’ll tell you how—when you see the price of a gallon of gas.  Hey-O!)

I think this weekend will have some goodies in store.  So get ready.  Plus I felt a little under the weather last night and missed yesterday.  Which surely makes a failure.  Like Santa would miss Christmas over a headache.

And a little video bonus from Johnny, 1977.  Oh yeah, he's got some friends with him as well.

December 01, 2010

Santa was talkin’ with his missus, said let me help you with those dishes…

Santa was cracking the whip late last night at the other North Pole.  Yes, we can’t always be at 77 Santas all the time, though we’d love to be.  Anyway, by the time Santa grabbed some Five Guys, made it home, and kicked off his boots, he was bushed.  But we’ll make up for that little slip right now.

But let’s hope not.  Seriously, for some, Christmas can be a lonely time of the year.  Just ask our friend The Depressive Weatherman about it.  I can’t imagine what that guy will go through this holiday season.

Hey, it’s the holidays.  Ain’t no reason to have the blues!  And come on, you expect me to believe that a song that sounds this good is actually meant to keep me down?

Hey now, this is how we should all start out Christmas morning.  A jaunty little Americana beat, a catchy chorus, and some fun.

Remember so send in those Santa pictures!  Details on the contest are at the top right.

November 29, 2010

Ding Dong Bell!

Well kids, we can thank Comcast for the outage yesterday.  Apparently the entire East Coast suffered an Internet outage, and that affected the home base here at the North Pole.  So, boo hiss on Comcast.  But let’s not delay and get right to it.

I don’t think is like anything we’ve ever posted on 77 Santas.  You’ll get down with that funky island groove.

We do everything here at 77 Santas—and why should holiday music just be held to Christmas?  Here you go.

An instrumental take on the standard that’s got a great sound.  Horns and all.

Nope, it’s not The Beatles.  It’s The Kaisers, singing to Loopy Lu.  If you know who that is, you’re old.  Just kidding!  We play for all ages here!

November 27, 2010

Jingle Bells Ringing in my Ear

It’s a cool, breezy Saturday.  And it’s also the close of Big Ten Football.  PC is snuggled up in Columbus with his boys, ready to watch the Buckeyes.  I’m ready to watch Penn State take down the Michigan State Spartans.  And, after that, time to decorate the house for the holidays—luckily, I have some great music to listen to.

And thus begins our annual Christmas extravaganza.  A post a day until Christmas Eve.  And, I’m trying to dig deep this year, posting some tunes that haven’t been posted yet.  And, I think there will be a very nice post commemorating our fifth anniversary in the coming weeks as well.  Oh, this our 300th post!

Sure, we’ve had this one up lots of times, but around here, Darlene Love’s version is our “Amazing Grace.”  And while U2 might have dropped off the past few years (a Spiderman musical, anyone?), they can still bring it home on their cover.

I was saving this for someone to answer my Garfield question from a few days ago.  Yes indeed, it was Lou Rawls singing in that great Christmas special.  And here’s the man’s great rendition of an old standard.  (And a bonus clip!)

If you don’t hear those jingle bells, get out to some stores.  Today marks a new campaign to buy from your local, community owned stores.  Who needs to stand in line at the big box stores or wrestle the crowds at the mall?  If you’re in the market for some holiday presents, get out there to the shops owned and run by your friends and neighbors.

Today’s album cover?  Pretty self-explanatory.  

November 24, 2010

Decorating Music

Over at, I’ve been running a little podcast called VarnerCast!  It’s just your standard podcast featuring music that will most likely change the way you see the world.  And, since it’s the holidays, I’m simulcasting the latest VarnerCast! on 77 Santas as well.

First off, have a great Thanksgiving to all those celebrating.  The day after is usually reserved for eating leftovers, shopping, and decorating.  This little mix is intended to be used for decorating, but I’m sure you could eat and buy while listening as well.  If you can do all three together, please send a picture, because that’s impressive!

All but a few of these songs are making their 77 Santas debut.  And you’ll get them on the podcast, so take a listen!  See you Friday, when we take off the gloves and come out swinging!

Ring Those Christmas Bells – Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians
My Favorite Things – Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass
Christmas Past – Mike Ireland and Holler
Good King Wenceslas – Mary McCaslin
Holiday on Skis – Al Caiola and Riz Ortolani
(Everybody’s Waitin’ For) The Man with the Bag – Kay Starr
Sana Claus Wants Some Lovin’ – Creeper
All I Want for Christmas Is A Little Bit of Music – Huey “Piano” Smith and The Clowns
Exotic Night – Martin Denny
Snowfall/Snowfall Cha-Cha – George Shearing and Billy May
I Bought You Violets – Renzo Cesana
O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum – Will Glahe and His Orchestra
Holly Leaves and Christmas Trees – Elvis Presley
Sleigh Ride – The Ventures
Christmasonic – Dom Mariani
In the Bleak Midwinter – Bert Jansch
Merry Christmas Baby – Southern Culture on the Skids
Carol of the Bells – Vienna Boys Choir
O, Holy Night – The Three Suns
Dickens Christmas Carol

November 22, 2010

If It Wasn’t for those Slimy, Sneaky Motherjumpers

Who’s ready for the turkey?  Eat up, then bust out the holiday decorations because it’s on.  After Thanksgiving, we’ll he up and running daily.  Hopefully November has slowly wet your appetite.  December will be loaded with sacks of goodies, including some great YouTube videos you might not have seen before.  And maybe PC will finally break out of the North Pole and share some tunes!  And keep the drawing contest entries coming!

Here’s a classic storytelling song that’s only a bit about Christmas, and a lot about bad brothers and the music industry.  A great Americana groove in this one, and Chip Taylor has a weathered voice that sounds like a cold winter night.

Not sure why, but the music to this reminds me of something from the Garfield Christmas special.  (Bonus points for whoever names the man who sang in that holiday special!)  Nothing special here, just getting butt-naked on a bear-skin rug while some good tunes play on the radio.

The standard 12-bar blues on this one—you can see the theme today, just pure American music.  This is one counts down the 12 days leading up to Christmas in a rollicking fashion.  (And thanks to a great little blog you should check out for these songs!)

In lieu of an album cover today, I’m going to feature a great YouTube video featuring the always amazing Jerry Reed (you’ll hear him in the coming weeks).  If anyone remembers this special, I’d love to hear how good (or bad) it was.

November 16, 2010

It’s A Long Way Down the Holiday Road

Santa drawing entries!  They are finally coming in.  And we couldn’t be happier.  Seriously, one of the things this time of year is about is bringing a smile to our faces.  I wish I could reply to each one individually—and, in due time, I’m sure that I will.  But yes, these are bringing smiles to our rapidly aging faces.  Keep them coming!  The details to the contest is at the side.  You win an autographed copy of my book, a special mix CD, and a special gift we don’t want to spoil.

Did you know that it’s our fifth anniversary this year?  Perhaps we’ll have a little retrospective of the greatest and worst moments, a recap of how all this started, and some champagne to celebrate.  We’re also approaching our 300th post, which I hope to make a special one.  Hopefully my request for Bono to contribute a guest post pans out.  If not, we can always go with someone else.

Hey, it’s not technically a holiday song, but this great cover of Buckingham’s classic has a nice winter feel.  And while we love a certain holiday themed National Lampoon’s film in these parts, let’s not forget the original, a classic in it’s own right.

Cowboys and cowgirls, don’t think for a second that Santa can’t get to you.  Oh no, he can ride the trail as well—and singing cowboy songs while he’s doing it.

I ain’t had a drink this morning, but I’m lit up like a Christmas tree.  I hear you, Mari.  Especially when you say about having good music on your radio. 

Oh, there’s nothing like that sweet soul sound, name-checking every city in the U.S.A. while delivering a holiday message of love.  All the world needs on Christmas is love.  Amen.

There’s someone who reads this blog who knows that this song goes out to him.  And, he’ll know what this means as well: thank you.

Today’s drawing: in honor of The Beatles coming to iTunes, here’s a Beatles cover.  Santa: The White Album.

November 12, 2010

Hey. Ho. Where’d You Go?

As someone in the comments, we’re kicking things off a little earlier this year.  But, once Turkey Day comes around, you can expect to see daily posts like always.  In the meantime, I’m having fun giving you a little taste of what’s to come.  And, we also announced the Santa drawing contest.  Wow, I wish you could see some of what we’re received so far!  Because there are no entries.  Seriously.  This is embarrassing.  Now we just feel like clodhoppers.  Prove us wrong, folks.  Prove us wrong.

It’s a special week for PC and I.  Hate week.  It’s the one week out of the year when our beloved college football teams play each other.  PSU v. OSU.  And, coincidentally, this year PC and I also play each other in our fantasy league.  I know what you’re thinking—it’s going to be a rough weekend for PC.  Hate to see his Buckeyes and fantasy team both fall, but that’s just how things go.  If you’d like to send his condolences, feel free to write something in the comments.

I think this is an underlooked Beach Boys holiday song—and, I suspect there are a lot of songs from the 70s that the band produced that deserve more attention.  But, it’s especially noteworthy since the band made its name on sunny beach songs—here’s something a little darker, lushly produced, about wintertime.  The burnt, rusty leaves still hang in the trees, but soon winter will come in full blast.

JB bringing down the house with that voice.  When he pleads that he’s been good, something tells me that he wasn’t.  But no matter, Santa Claus visits everyone, even the hardest working man in show business.

Blue.  As in blue and white.  As in Penn State.  And this is sung by a band from Ohio.

A piano-based instrumental of the old standard.  White.  As in a white out.  As in the pure helmets PSU wears onto the football field, only to be dirtied with the mud and the blood of Ohioans.

Nope, it’s not a Christmas tune, but I needed to throw something in here about a lion.  And I’m sure the Buckeyes will be firmly chewed up and spit out by the lions’ jaws Saturday afternoon.

I guess I should give PC his due.  Here’s a song about Ohio.  Unfortunately, it’s the most uplifting one I could find.  Hey.  Ho.  Where’d you go Ohio?  Down in the BCS rankings?

November 08, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

I’m back after a few days off for the book tour and a trip to North Carolina.  So, without further ado, here we go friends!

How exactly did this song become associated with Christmas?  Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote the song for The Sound of Music (I’m not a musical person, but it’s my favorite simply because it involves two of my favorite things: beautiful locales and sticking it to Nazis).  In the musical and film, Maria sings the song when talking about those happy things that pop into her mind when times are tough.  So perhaps for those people who struggle with Christmas—and who, dare we say, dislike the season—also need a few of their favorite things to get them through?  The song has some nice winter imagery, and this is supposedly how it came to be associated with the holiday season.  My favorite version?  Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, who could without a doubt spice up any song they covered.  By the way—find a picture of Herb Alpert from the 1960s and you’ll see a sinfully handsome man with a trumpet.  Our picture today is a reinterpretation of the classic Herb Alpert cover for Whipped Cream and Other Delights.

And let’s keep that swinging sixties sound going with Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66.  Sergio Mendes actually toured with Alpert, who was a great supporter of the Brazilian musician.  Alpert signed Mendes to his A&M label.  There’s a nice samba flavor to this.  Never have I so wanted to spend Christmas in a warm place.

Switching gears, here’s a dose of Americana.  Calexico’s “Gift Xchange” is a beautifully sad track.  I’ve been searching for the right song to address my own thoughts this Christmas.  In many ways, this has been the worst best year I’ve ever had.  While I saw the release of my first book, I’ve also had to deal with some heartbreaking and unexpected reaction to that book from my family.  In the wake of that, I’m not entirely sure how this Christmas will turn out for me.  I’m working on a longer piece about why I love Christmas that will be up in the future, but a large part of that is family.  I may not have all of them this year.  However, I’m grateful to have the 77 Santas community from around the world here to share in the spirit of the holiday.

For some reason, Rilo Kiley always reminds me of my first year of grad school.  I was living in an apartment by myself for the first time in my life.  While I spent much of my time writing, I also listened to a lot of music, most of it indie rock.  In my mind, indie rock was experiencing its zenith during those years.  The Arcade Fire released their first album.  And Rilo Kiley was just starting to getting big.  More Adventurous was just released, and I listened to “Portions for Foxes” repeatedly that fall.  Somehow that song summed up the feeling of being in a new place surrounded by new people.  However, it was during that time I met my future wife and my neighbor PC.  In fact, it was that first Christmas that we decided to come up with a nice mix holiday for the season.  And thus, it began.  Here’s the band’s only Christmas song I’m aware of.  And, it also captures that first Christmas in terms of my level of poverty.  I had squandered my money and was suddenly unsure how I would ever pay my rent or bills.  And then I remembered—credit cards.  Funny how things come full-circle!

November 03, 2010

2010 77 Santas Contest: Absurd Santa Drawing

Okay folks, this is a big one.  Our first contest.  And we’re excited to get it underway.  We heard that Santa recently started an Elf of the Month program, and it really inspired some work ethic (not to mention, a gift certificate to the North Pole Denny’s for one-luck Elf).  So, here’s the deal.

We want your hand-drawn renderings of Santa.  And, keeping with the theme of our drawings, we’re looking for an absurd take on Santa.  Want to show a beautiful scene with Santa helping out the orphans?  Hey, that’ll touch our heart, but you won’t win.  Do a great version of Santa as a cast member of Freaks and Geeks, now you’re talking (note: do not steal my idea!).  Weird, wacky, funny, satirical, and absurd.

Entry deadline is December 13.

The winners will be announced on December 20.

We’ll pick a first-place winner who will receive a special mix CD created by JV and PC, a personalized autographed copy of JV’s book Nothing Left to Burn, and a special treat you don’t want us to spoil.  No promises it will arrive by December 25, but we’ll try our best.

We’ll also pick some of our favorites in the following categories (who will sadly only win our respect and their picture posted online):

Funniest drawing

Weirdest drawing

You obviously didn’t follow the rules drawing

Best kid’s drawing

Worst drawing

Got it?  Good!  Grab your easel, charcoal, and your computer scanner.  Send attachments to:

Jpeg or tiff files work the best.  If you get fancy, well yes, we do run a website, but we’re not super techno savvy.  We’re English majors!  Have pity. 

Be sure to include your name and, if under 18, your age.  If you’re the grand prize winner, we’ll follow up and ask for your contact information.  If you’re one of the runner-ups, we’ll ask how you’d like to be credited on a website read by thousands of people.

We’re very excited to hear from our loyal readers around the world who share a love of not only this time of year but the music as well.  Best of luck.


I’m not good at drawing.  Will that hurt my chances?
Have you seen JV’s drawings?  No.

Can I create mine on an iPad, iPhone, or digital source?
If you’re a nerd, sure.

I specialize in pornographic anime.  Is it accepted?
Absolutely not.  We’re a family-friendly site and do not promote anything involving nudity—unless of course it is our own.  Just kidding!  Nothing unsuitable, please.
But anime is okay?
As an icebreaker on a date?  No.  For this contest, I guess.

Give us a clue on the special prize.  Is it canned peaches?
No, it is not canned peaches.

Are you afraid that no one will enter and all your hopes and dreams about this website and your view on humanity will be cruelly crushed like a Nutter Butter cookie under Santa’s boot?
Of course.  We’re fragile, sensitive people who often bite our knuckles to hide our tears.  So please keep that in mind.

November 02, 2010

Christmas Is for Losers

Today, I was out in town at a doctor’s appointment.  Before I left, the doc asked if I was glad election day would soon be behind us.  Yes, I was—no more negative, pessimistic, fear-mongering ads.  He nodded and said, “Yeah, but you know what comes next?  Christmas songs on the radio.”
I didn’t say anything, but I thought, there’s your problem chief.  You’re listening to Christmas tunes on the radio!  There’s lots of great stuff out there, you just have to look for it.  Luckily, all of you know where to look: 77 Santas.

In the coming days, we’ll be hosting our first-ever contest on the site.  While it’s exciting and will take some work, we’re very excited.  Hopefully the official announcement will come this weekend.

Meanwhile, we have the first in our drawings today.  This year (and most likely next year as well), I’m going to do parodies of classic album covers.  If you don’t the know the originals, I’ll include the names and artists for your reference (and your universal acclaim, because I’m sure you’ll be impressed by my child-like artwork).  The first entry?  The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, reimagined with Santa and a young Mrs. Claus.

Okay, onto the songs.  Quick question for everyone: Mp3 or Mp4?  iTunes should be able to play everything but I understand that not everyone uses that program.  Let me know what you'd prefer and we'll try to stick with that in the future.

How about a swinging entry into the holiday season?  If this doesn’t make you want to switch on the turn table and seek out some mistletoe, check your pulse.

We know better!  But behind the initial message, there’s a great critique of consumer culture.  Despite the jaunty beat, it’s rather depressing.

This one is simple.  And of course, all of us have our own thoughts of what Christmas means to us.  For me, one of the biggest part is sharing these songs—the kind you won’t hear on the radio, doc—with my friends all over the world.

November 01, 2010

Sleigh Bells Ring.

A-hoy-hoy!  It’s November 1.  Halloween is gone.  The leaves are coming down.  The air chills.  And Christmas is coming soon.  77 Santas is back for another season.  So sit back and relax.  As is tradition, we’ll start our first day (and always our last) of the season with two of our favorites.

We’ve got some new tricks in store this year, and a lot of fun planned.  Not to mention some new changes—hint, hint, check the sidebar.  So, hang on for a wild holiday season.  (And the drawings start tomorrow!)

October 31, 2010

November 1

Coming November 1.  77 Santas.  2010.  Songs, pictures, writing, and more.

August 02, 2010


For the next few weeks, I’ll be simulcasting Varnercast! on 77 Santas.  Varnercast! started as a kind of joke, I suppose.  The first episode opened with the theme music to Meet the Press, and it seemed very important.  I was in the moment, and I just called the thing Varnercast!  The exclamation mark is crucial.

The music is typically very eclectic.  These are songs that PC and I love—and, as is often the case, I include some songs I want him to hear.  You’ll get a little bit of country, a little bit of rock n roll, and my voice guiding you through.  Each Varnercast! is around an hour in length.

You can find Varnercast! episodes, and lots more, on

Interview Excerpt – Vak Ranga Rao (from Yeti)
It Ain’t Easy – Ron Davies
Easy Street – NEWS
It’s So Easy When You Know What You’re Doing – Ted Lucas
Easy to Be Hard – Aquarian Age
You’ll Do It All the Time – Jim Dickinson and the New Beale Street Sheiks
Big Mouth USA – Jim Ford
Homemade Songs – Bobby Charles
Cast Your Ship Upon Rain – Aran Ruth
Morning Glory – Mac Gayden
Hiding – Ko + Friends
Comes A Time – Hooded Figures
Rhiannon – The Langley Schools Music Project
You and Your Sister – Chris Bell
When the Pin Hits the Shell – Drive By Truckers
Fire On the Mountain – The Marshall Tucker Band
Ten-Penny Bit – from Classic Maritime Music from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Sawmill Man – Glen Bolick
Oscar’s Cannon Ball – Goose Island Ramblers
I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party – The Beatles

July 25, 2010

Christmas in July: 2010

Christmas Message from Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys
Pat A Pan—John Halloran & Choir
Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer Mambo—Alvin Stoller
What Child Is This—David Grisman
“Happy Christmas In July”—JV
It’s A Big Country—Davitt Sigerson
Christmas In The Trenches—John McCutcheon
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen—Kate and Anna McGarrigle
Hark the Herald Angels Sing—A.V. Bornand Collection
“Country Christmas Intro”—JV
The Holly & The Ivy/The Cherry Tree Carol—John Fahey with Terry Robb
A Shut-In At Christmas/Shut-in's Prayer—The Louvin Brothers
The Friendly Beasts—Johnson Mountain Boys
Long, Long Ago—Barry & Holly Tashian
Silent Night All Day Long—John Prine
No Christmas In Kentucky—Phil Ochs
Christmas In My Smokey Mountain Home—Bobby Bare
Goin' Home For Christmas—Merle Haggard
Call Collect On Christmas—Del McCoury
“Shameless Self-Promotion”—JV
Frosty the Snowman—The Ventures
Christmas Island—Bob Atcher & The Dinning Sisters
Jingle Bells—Johnny Mercer
Sorry to See You Go—June Christy

Intro—“Six Months Before Christmas”—JV
Exotic Night—Martin Denny
77 Santas—Gayla Peevey
Christmas On the Beach—Irene
Christmas Must Be Tonight—The Band
My Favorite Things—Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass
Silent Night—Huey “Piano” Smith and the Clowns
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen—The Ventures
X-Mas Time (Sure Doesn’t Feel Like It)—The Dogmatics
It’s Christmas Time Again—Harley Poe
Merry Christmas Baby—Ike and Tina Turner
The Christmas Song—The Raveonettes
Xmas Curtain—My Morning Jacket
Christmas All Over Again—Tom Petty
“Christmas In July”—JV
Carol of the Bells—Vienna Boys Choir
Oh Holy Night—Irma Thomas
Little Saint Night—The Beach Boys
Snoopy’s Christmas—The Royal Guardsmen
Please Come Home for Christmas—Charles Brown
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)—Darlene Love

July 21, 2010

But it's July?

Doesn't matter if it's been 100 degrees in my neck of the woods.  It's time for Christmas in July.  And we've got some great treats for you this year.  How about the first ever 77 Santas podcast?  Nothing like listening to JV (and we hope, hope, hope) and PC talk about their favorite Christmas songs.  And, a preview of the next round of artwork.  We've finished up the Santa drawings.  Now it's time for photos.  And good golly do I have a lot.  Check back in the next few days.  Or, if you want a sneak peak, head over to later today and listen to the Varnercast for a sneak peak.  Yep, I just outed myself!  Hi,  I'm JV.