Another Christmas with old friends

It was late 1969, when I was 12, that I really started listening to music. That year, I got a Panasonic AM-FM radio for Christmas. This model, though this is not my radio. I still have mine. It still works, even though the antenna long ago was bent, then broken off.

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I put it atop the filing cabinet where I kept my baseball, football and basketball cards and tuned it to 920 AM — WOKY, the Mighty 92 out of Milwaukee. WOKY was one of the big Top 40 stations of the day.

When it came to this time of year in 1970, I heard a song that blew me away. This song.

“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” the Jackson 5, 1970, from “A Motown Christmas,” 1973.

I had no idea there was that kind of Christmas music — pop, rock, R&B and soul versions of Christmas songs, all played only at a certain time of year. I once was passionate about that kind of Christmas music. Now, not so much.

Today’s tunes are the ones I dug first. I still dig them. It wouldn’t be Christmas without them.

“Snoopy’s Christmas,” the Royal Guardsmen, from “Snoopy and His Friends,” 1967. (The link is to a double CD also featuring “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron,” their debut album from 1966.)

“Merry Christmas, mein friend!”

“Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the Plastic Ono Band and the Harlem Community Choir, released as a single, 1971. A remastered version is available on  “Gimme Some Truth,” a 4-CD compilation released in 2010.

“And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?”

Please visit our companion blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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2 Comments

Filed under Christmas music, December 2013, Sounds

2 responses to “Another Christmas with old friends

  1. Scott Thomson

    Jeff:
    Love your blog, and appreciate where you’re coming from, eight years after yours truly.
    But I look at that radio, and I compare it to the one on which I began listening to “The Music.” Not sure about the brand, but it was likely either an Emerson or Philco. I think it had short-wave band; I know for sure it had a record player (under a heavy, flip-up lid). It may have been able to play 45 RPM disks, but I know for sure it played 78s. (Do those, and something that will play them, even exist any more?)
    That radio would only get WLS from Chicago after dark, if the fluorescent light in the kitchen/dining room was turned off. So my older brother (b. 1947) and I had to beg Mom to forego the light she needed to clean up after supper, so we could listen to Ron Riley, Art Roberts, Clark Weber, Bob Hale, etc., play the Crystals, Dion and others. My mother would rather have been listening to WCLO and MOR (although she was basically country, and would have listened to the Barn Dance or whatever was on WLS the hours that we didn’t listen to it).
    Jackson 5 Christmas music? We had no respect for Bubblegum. Snoopy and the Red Baron? That was OK, but trying to explain it to my 20-year-old daughter the other day was complicated. Anything Lennon involving Yoko was stick-your-finger-down-your-throat; after all, she single-handedly destroyed the Beatles, right? Or did she kill Paul?
    I’m getting so old and senile I don’t remember.

  2. Jeff, many years ago when I was a radio station Music Director, it was hard to find Christmas music to play on the radio during the holidays and certainly not much available for Top 40 and AC formats. The 3 that you feature on this blog were certainly staples. I especially love Bruce Springsteen’s version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”…perfect for just about any format.

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