A few days ago, we were in our longtime favorite North Beach coffee house. It normally has tolerable music playing over the system, but now it was Christmas season, when the familiar stuff is inescapable. I’m not normally one who bleats “Put the Christ back in Christmas”—he needs to fend for himself among the unemployed—but this had me longing for HALLELUJAH!
There should be a Supreme Court decision that no one but Eartha Kitt could sing “Santa Baby,” no matter the First Amendment. I prefer her other stuff, but she could sing the national anthem and make me drool.
But maybe these jingles wouldn’t sound so bad if somebody else did the covers.
Can you hear Tom Waits doing “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer?”
Or Mahalia Jackson’s “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus?”
Or Little Richard’s “Jingle Bell Rock?”
Or Leonard Cohen’s “Frosty the Snowman?”
I’ve never liked “White Christmas,” I suppose because I’ve just heard it seventy times too often, and when Bing Crosby hits low notes he sounds like a Boris Karloff imitation. But I can hear him now doing a cover of that fabulous hit of The Chipmunks: “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.” I’d listen to that.
There is happy outcome to this meditation. In researching this blog, I googled “Christmas novelty songs” (for fear of missing something) and came to the story of Gayla Peevey who in 1953 at the age of 10 recorded a song that actually hit the charts: “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” The Wikipedia article (by the way, do consider a donation to Wikipedia, I use it a lot) gives the full story. Her song resulted in a campaign that led to a hippopotamus being acquired for the Oklahoma City zoo. It lived for nearly 50 years. With luck I’ll never hear that song.