Here’s another random Christmas playlist from my laptop music stash, featuring mostly songs your local all-Christmas radio station hasn’t burned out.
“The Man With All the Toys” and “Child of Winter”/Beach Boys. This year is the 50th anniversary of The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album. “The Man With All the Toys” was one of the top holiday singles of 1964, although “Little St. Nick” gets more airplay today, and “Merry Christmas Baby” used to. A decade later, “Child of Winter” came out as a single. Despite having the subtitle “Christmas Song,” its December 23, 1974, release gave it no shot at Christmas airplay.
“Hallelujah It’s Christmas”/.38 Special. The .38 Special Christmas album, released in 2001, has an awful title and an awful cover, but the music inside is better than you’d expect. “Hallelujah It’s Christmas” is yer basic Southern boogie; their version of “O Holy Night” is reverent and lovely.
“Wonderful Christmastime” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reggae”/Paul McCartney and Wings. First heard 35 years ago this Christmas, “Wonderful Christmastime” gets a great deal of justified hate. Under anyone’s name it would sound phoned-in and flimsy, but what really upsets people is that Paul McCartney’s name is on something so phoned-in and flimsy. (In its defense, however, the synthesizer noise that starts it sure gets your attention on the radio.) The version that came up on my shuffle is from a 1979 Christmas-season show in Glasgow, Scotland, and it sounds like Paul’s already sick of playing it. The B-side of “Wonderful Christmastime,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reggae” is pretty much what you think it is, played by what sounds like a drunken violinist (but is probably a synthesizer, too).
“This Christmas”/Frank McComb. In 1994 and 1996, the Motown subsidiary MoJazz came out with a pair of Christmas albums featuring nobody you ever heard of, with the possible exception of bass guitarist (and ex-NBA player) Wayman Tisdale. “This Christmas” and the rest of the stuff sounds fine when it pops up on shuffle, but I’m rarely moved to put on a whole album at once.
“I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas”/Yogi Yorgesson. I told the story of Yogi, a Scandinavian character created in the late 40s by a radio comedian named Harry Stewart, several Christmases ago. “I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas” was once a holiday staple popular enough to appear on Casey Kasem’s early 70s Christmas countdowns.
“I’ll Be Your Santa Baby”/Rufus Thomas and “Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’/Mack Rice. From a Stax compilation called It’s Christmas Time Again, which also features Albert King, the Staple Singers, and Isaac Hayes among others. Several of the tracks are burners, including “I’ll Be Your Santa Baby” and “Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’,” in which “putting something out for Santa” had better not refer to milk and cookies.
“Stop Giving Me Crap for Christmas”/Bobby Gaylor. Gaylor is a TV performer and writer. “Stop Giving Me Crap for Christmas” is a decent concept, but as actually carried off, it’s not especially funny.
With the exception of “Wonderful Christmastime” and some of the Beach Boys stuff, you won’t hear any of these songs on Magic 98’s “98 Hours of Christmas Magic,” which started last night and continues through midnight on Christmas night. What you will hear, however, is the best-curated holiday music show since the old WLS Holiday Festival of Music. I’ll be on today and tomorrow from 3 to 7PM (US Central), and on Christmas Eve, my favorite day of the year to be on the air, from 3 until 6. Listen here, or via the TuneIn Radio app.