Tag Archives: 1950

12 days of Christmas, Day 9

In the e-mail today is a note about NPR Music’s Jingle Jams holiday mix.

They asked 10 stations to suggest 10 Christmas songs each, then put it all together into one playlist. You can stream it here.

Here are 12 of the songs, in the order they appear on the Jingle Jams playlist. The station or program suggesting the song is in parentheses.

“Let It Snow,” Leon Redbone, from “Christmas Island,” 1989. (Folk Alley)

“‘Zat You, Santa Claus” Louis Armstrong, 1953, from “The Stash Christmas Album,” 1985. It’s out of print. (NPR suggests finding it on “Hipster’s Holiday,” a 1989 CD compilation.) (WBGO, Newark, New Jersey; WDUQ, Pittsburgh)

“Last Month Of The Year” the Blind Boys of Alabama, from “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” 2003. (WXPN, Philadelphia)

“Santa Claus, Santa Claus,” James Brown, from “Santa’s Got A Brand New Bag,” 1966. The LP is out of print but all the songs are on “The Complete James Brown Christmas,” a 2-CD set released earlier this year. (KUT, Austin, Texas)

“Back Door Santa,” Clarence Carter, from “Soul Christmas,” 1968. (KUT)

“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” Darlene Love, from “A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector,” 1963. (WXPN)

“Christmas Wrapping,” the Waitresses, 1981, from “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas,” 1994. It’s out of print. (NPR suggests finding it on the “Christmas Wrapping” EP. That also appears to be out of print, but the song is available digitally.) (KUT)

“Greensleeves,” the Vince Guaraldi Trio, from “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” 1965. The buy link is to a 2006 remastered CD release with extra tracks, including an alternate take on this one. (WDUQ)

“Jingle Bells,” Jimmy Smith, from “Christmas ’64,” 1964. Smith’s “Christmas Cookin’,” from the same year, is the same record but with a much cooler cover.  (WBGO)

“Must Be Santa,” Brave Combo, from “It’s Christmas, Man!” 1992. Hard to find, but available from the band or digitally. NPR’s version is from a live performance at KUT. This version is done as a polka.

“Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney,” Ella Fitzgerald, 1950, from “The Stash Christmas Album,” 1985. It’s out of print. (NPR suggests finding it on “Yule Be Miserable,” a 2006 CD compilation) (WDUQ)

“The 12 Days of Christmas,” Harry Belafonte, from “To Wish You A Merry Christmas,” 1962. (NPR Music staff)


Filed under Christmas music, December 2010

Three under the tree, Day 18

Elvis got a little nasty yesterday, so let’s continue that theme. Tonight, we find three more nasty tunes under the tree.


“Back Door Santa,” Clarence Carter, 1968, from “Soul Christmas,” a 1991 CD reissue of the 1968 Atlantic Records album of the same name.

You can’t go wrong with our first tune. It’s about as nasty as they come. The lyrics include: “I ain’t like old St. Nick/He don’t come but once a year.” And, of course, perhaps the most suggestive “Ho, ho, ho, ho” ever recorded. This was recorded in October 1968 at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. It’s Carter on guitar and vocals, backed by the Fame house band.


“Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’,” Mack Rice, 1972, from “Christmas in Soulsville,” a 2007 CD reissue of the 1982 Stax Records album “It’s Christmas Time Again.”

Not much left to the imagination on this one. Santa is chasing Mama around the kitchen after all the kids have gone to bed. Rice wrote this one. This album also has Albert King’s cover of this tune, recorded in 1974. Rice also wrote and recorded “Mustang Sally,” but he’s more widely known as a songwriter than as a singer.


“Santa Claus Got Stuck In My Chimney,” Ella Fitzgerald, 1950, from “The Stash Christmas Album,” 1985. It’s out of print, but many of the cuts turned up on “Santa Claus Blues,” a 1988 CD release on Jass Records … which also is out of print.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I read earlier this year that this once was considered a naughty record. I’ve been listening to this tune for more than 20 years and never thought it to be a double entendre. Not sure what that says about me, but there you go.

Our friend Captain OT over at A Christmas Yuleblog, who is more knowledgeable than I on anything having to do with Christmas music, has written that “radio stations refused to touch it and the single went unnoticed for many years after.”

This was recorded on Oct. 26, 1950. The band includes Charlie Shavers on trumpet, Hank Jones on piano, John Collins on guitar, Roy Brown on bass and Charlie Smith on drums.


Filed under Christmas music, December 2008, Sounds

Three under the tree, Day 10

Today, we’re driving across Wisconsin’s winter wonderland, heading to a wedding. My dad will be with us, and it seems appropriate to see what Christmas sounds like at Ray’s Corner.

If you’re a regular visitor around these parts, you know we occasionally stop at Ray’s Corner and borrow tunes from Dad’s collection. Ray’s Corner, of course, is the apartment where the music is loud and where the martinis are made of gin with the vermouth bottle held about a foot away.


“Winter Wonderland,” Dean Martin, 1959, available on “Christmas With Dino,” 2006, and “Season’s Greetings from Dean Martin,” 1992.

Dad digs Dino, and I generally do, too. However, I’m not a huge fan of Dino’s many Christmas songs. This one’s a keeper, though.


“Jingle Bells,” Duke Ellington, 1962, from “Jingle Bell Jazz,” 1974. (This CD, released in 1985, combines cuts from the 1974 album “Jingle Bell Jazz” and the 1981 album “God Rest Ye Merry Jazzmen.”)

This cut starts slowly, then picks up the pace when the 12-piece horn section jumps in. That, of course, is Billy Strayhorn on the piano. Recorded in New York City on June 21, 1962. (I turned 5 years old that day.)


“Boogie Woogie Santa Claus,” Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra, 1950, from “Santa Claus Blues,” 1988. It’s out of print, but it looks like Amazon has an mp3 available from another compilation record.

The liner notes on this cut say only that it was recorded in 1950, but I’m guessing it comes from a session on Oct. 27, 1950. I have a Hampton cut from that session on another Christmas album. That’s likely Sonny Parker on the vocals. Mind you, this was 58 years ago, and he’s singing “rock, rock, rock, Mr. Santa.” There also are terrific trumpet and sax charts on this one, along with a little taste of Hamp’s vibes.

“Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” was an R&B hit for Mabel Scott in 1948. The next year, she married her pianist, Charles Brown, who had hits with “Merry Christmas Baby” in 1947 and “Please Come Home for Christmas” in 1960. Alas, they stayed together for only a short time, and Scott eventually went back to her original love, gospel music.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2008, Sounds

Another day at Ray’s Corner

Longtime readers know we occasionally stop by Ray’s Corner to listen to tunes spirited from my dad’s music collection.

So we’re back there on this Father’s Day, which this year follows Dad’s birthday by exactly one day. Dad turned 83 yesterday. He doesn’t get around too well anymore, but he’s still sharp.

Here, then, are a couple of tunes you might hear at Ray’s Corner. It’s the apartment with the loud music, and the place where the martinis are made of gin with the vermouth bottle held about a foot away.

They’re kind of laid back. Perfect for a lazy summer Sunday.

“Night Train,” Louis Prima, from “The Wildest,” 1957.

Dad was 31, and he and Mom had probably just learned I was on the way when this album was released in January 1957. It really is the wildest! It’s mostly swing, jazz and blues, but you can see rock and roll in the distance.

“Blue Light Boogie,” 1950, Louis Jordan and Trio, from “The Best of Louis Jordan,” released on vinyl in 1977 and on CD in 1989.

Dad was 25, still a single guy, when this tune hit the charts in August 1950. He was working as the agent at the Railway Express Agency office in the depot in his hometown of Elroy, Wisconsin. He was living at home, but you can be sure he got out and heard this tune on the jukeboxes of the day.

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Filed under June 2008, Sounds

Three under the tree, Vol. 24

Tonight, it’s ladies night, with our three from a trio of elegant singers.


“Carol of the Bells,” Nancy Wilson, from “A Nancy Wilson Christmas,” 2001.

A classy turn by the great jazz stylist. She’s backed by New York Voices, a fine quartet, on this often challenging tune for singers.

Did you know that even though Wilson has been performing since the ’60s, this was her first Christmas album? I didn’t.

Nor did I know the proceeds from this album go to “MCG Jazz, a social enterprise supporting the youth education programs of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, a nonprofit, minority-directed, arts and learning organization located in Pittsburgh,” according to her web site.

You’ll find another cut from this album, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” over at the digital download area of the Telarc Records web site.


“Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney,” Ella Fitzgerald, 1950, from “A Stash Christmas Album,” 1985. It’s out of print. This tune and some of the other cuts on this album are available on “Swingin’ Christmas,” an mp3 album available from Amazon.

It’s one of the great whimsical Christmas tunes, done with Miss Ella’s light touch. Recorded on Oct. 26, 1950, with an uncredited vocal group backing her. That’s Charlie Shavers on trumpet and Roy Brown on bass among the backing musicians.


“This Christmas,” Patti LaBelle, from “Blues and Soul Christmas,” a 1997 compilation on MCA.

It’s another cover of the modern classic by Donny Hathaway and Nadine McKinner. I’m guessing this version is from her 1990 Christmas album, also entitled “This Christmas.”

Enjoy. More to come, but Christmas draws near.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2007, Sounds