Your witty comments, impertinent questions, helpful suggestions, and angry denials
are altogether encouraged. Submit feedback via email;
submissions will be edited and posted at my discretion.
January 2, 2017. I noticed your rips of the Phil Moore Four's two Christmas classics, "Blink Before Christmas" and "Chinchy Old Scrooge," are excellent quality - what was the source? I host a radio program called the Rock 'n' Rhythm Revue, and I always try to find the best sources to present... I found one CD titled Christmas On The R&B Side - but the quality is poor. - Matt Masters
Randy Responds. I'm afraid those precious files came from some long forgotten online source. I've always been amazed at their quality. If they are vinyl rips, they came from some clean copies! I was happy to share them with my readers as part of my annual "Christmas Gift For You" in 2008 and 2014, respectively. To my knowledge, the Phil Moore single has never been reissued on a legitimate CD. Releases like Christmas On The R&B Side are what I call "gray market" discs - put together by collectors for collectors from whatever sources they can muster; that's all fine and good, but I tend to ignore them on Hip Christmas. These days, though, with the rise of public domain releases out of Europe and elsewhere, even the gray market is disappearing.
November 3, 2015. Thanks for the great site, I recently found it getting ready for this year's Christmas music! Two quick questions for you - are you on Facebook? I was looking for a way to keep up with any site updates. Finally, do you have a "Best of Jazz" list? I really got into the Kenny Burrell album last year and would like to beef that up! - Larry Holt
Randy Responds. Yes, I finally joined the 21st century this year; follow me at www.facebook.com/HipChristmasMusic. Regarding jazz Christmas albums, there aren't a whole lot of vintage jazz Christmas albums from the 50's or 60's, and there's way too many of the modern (even worse, smooth) jazz variety. Regardless, here's 15 more must-haves (in alphabetical order) to build on Kenny Burrell's wonderful 1996 LP, Have Yourself A Soulful Little Christmas - including one actually recorded in this century!
- Louis Armstrong & Friends, What A Wonderful Christmas (1997) (read more)
- Charlie Byrd, Christmas Carols For Solo Guitar (1967)
- Vince Guaraldi, A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) (read more)
- Ella Fitzgerald, Ella Wishes You A Swingin' Christmas (1960)
- Diana Krall, Christmas Songs (2005)
- Ramsey Lewis, The Sound Of Christmas (1961)
- Jimmy Smith, Christmas '64 (a.k.a. Christmas Cookin') (1964)
- various artists, Christmas Collection (Prestige, 1988)
- various artists, Christmas Songs (Milestone, 1988)
- various artists, Hipsters Holiday: Vocal Jazz and R&B Classics (Rhino, 1989) (read more)
- various artists, Jingle Bell Jam: Jazz Christmas Classics (Sony, 1999)
- various artists, Jingle Bell Swing (Rhino, 1999)
- various artists, Joy Of Christmas Past (Decca, 1994) (read more)
- various artists, Very Best Of Christmas Jazz (Verve , 2001)
- various artists, Yule Struttin' (Blue Note, 1990)
September 15, 2015. Love your site! As a Christmas music obsessive, I eagerly anticipate your first posts marking the real start of the Christmas season. I've learned a lot and gladly wasted my somewhat precious time. - Jim Duckworth, Memphis, Tennessee
Randy Responds. Happy to help you waste it, Jim. I've just started reviewing this year's new releases. The big stories? Lotsa vinyl and Sharon Jones.
December 13, 2014. Thanks for the mention! Happy holidays to you! - Cathy Harrington, Chris Stamey Group and Holiday Heart contributor
Randy Responds. You're welcome, and same to you! "You're What I Want (For Christmas)" is one of my modern holiday favorites.
December 12, 2014. I look forward to going over new stuff on your site every December - an integral part of the holidays. I was wondering if you heard about the documentary Jingle Bell Rocks? It played at a local indie theater here in Pittsburgh, but I couldn't make it. I will try to catch it on DVD, but sounds like it'd be right up your alley. If you're not familiar with it, here's a review in The Boston Globe. Anyway, it might be something worth recommending on your site. - Steve Maloney
Randy Responds. Yes, Steve, I've been recommending the movie since before it came out (see my links page). Oddly, though, I've never seen it. It's on "my list" but the film had a very limited theatrical release, and I've never found it for rent. You can, however, buy it on DVD or iTunes movie - visit the Jingle Bell Rocks website to learn how.
November 23, 2013. What a great site you've created! Are you aware of a song by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention from 1966 that might qualify as a Christmas song? It's called "Uncle Bernie's Farm" and it's from the album Absolutely Free. As you might suspect, it's not full of warm fuzzies! My personal Christmas favorite, usually found in the classical section, is Medieval Christmas by the Boston Camerata. It rocks in its own way! Catch you on the flip side. - Jim Powers
Randy Responds. Now that's twisted. It's sort of about Santa, but I suspect more about Johnson, Nixon, Goldwater, Westmoreland, Walt Disney, Ray Kroc, and all the other masterminds of Western Civilization that Zappa loved to loath. "Christmas don't make it no more," indeed.
January 3, 2013. I love your site. I wanted to let you know that you are listing the wrong date for Pearl Bailey's "Five Pound Box of Money." You show 1959, and as this 45-rpm record illustrates, it was released in 1958. - Steve (aka Mistletoe and Holly)
Randy Responds. Thanks for the kind words, Steve, but I think the label is wrong! I've run into this before on a few records issued before 1972, when copyright or release dates were rarely printed on either the labels or sleeves. In this case, the copyright refers to, well, something else - the logo, or the brand name, perhaps.
The liner notes for Rhino's Hipsters' Holiday agrees with you, but those for Christmas Past, a Roulette label sampler issued a few years later by Westside, date "Five Pound Box of Money" and its b-side, "Jingle Bells Cha-Cha-Cha," to 1959 - as does the Global Dog Productions Roulette 45 discography and the Goldmine Christmas Record Price Guide. Most convincingly, the November 23, 1959 issue of
Billboard reviews "Five Pound Box of Money" in their "New Pop Records" section.
History sure can be fuzzy! Regardless, Billboard also describes "Five Pound Box of Money" as an "irrepresible performance," and I'm sure we can agree on that!
December 5, 2011. Many thanks for the fine research and wonderful information about my favorite time of the musical year. Regarding your listing of naughty songs, listen to Shemekia Copland's "Stay A Little Longer Santa" off Alligator Records' Genuine Houserockin' Christmas (2003). Then you might understand why the jolly ol' guy may be late getting to your house. Also, I would like to add a fiver to your tip jar in appreciation of your efforts. How can I do that? - Boyd Allen, Exeter, New Hampshire
Randy Responds. You're welcome, Boyd. One thing I've learned: When you write about something, you find more of it. That's happened with the Vietnam songs, the stalker anthems, the Jewish connection, and, especially, the sexy stuff. To tip me, Boyd, follow the links to Amazon, iTunes,
and Sheet Music Plus. The goodies you buy there supports my work here.
June 9, 2011. I am also a Christmas music nut. I find myself sneaking listens here and there throughout the year, and I just revel in the glow of Christmas nostalgia. Your site and its lists are phenomenal, and I enjoy both the legitimate music and the saucier stuff like Horny Holidays. In keeping with my Christmas addiction, I do some work for Christmas Lights Etc. If you would not mind, I would appreciate a link on your hip link list. We sell scads of lights, decorations, and controllers - so people could actually use your hip music suggestions to automate their own light show! - Dan Tushinski
Randy Responds. That's really gratifying to know, Dan - back at you! I can give you a link herein, but I reserve space on my links page for music blogs and other musical resources. The lights look cool, though thankfully my Christmas mania doesn't extend to my front yard - my marriage and sanity probably couldn't withstand that.
February 15, 2011. I was looking for more information on the Betty Lloyd Christmas single "Six Days To Xmas" on the BSC label, and I see that she had a 45 called "Snowflakes" on a label called Thomas. It mentions "six days to Christmas" in the lyrics, and it sounds like the same tune to me. Can you shed any more light on the subject? - Patti
Randy Responds. Not much more than you did, Patti. I hadn't figured that out yet - thanks! I own the BSC 45, which probably came out about 1968. Both the BSC and the Thomas versions can be heard on YouTube, and they are, indeed, the same recordings, but on a different label and with different titles. As Thomas Records was distributed by Buddah, that gives me hope that someone may reissue "Six Days" or "Snowflakes" someday. It's a great song by whatever title - the sort of rare soul record that gives collectors like us gooseflesh!
January 12, 2011. First, I wish to congratulate you on a great website. I am a collector of Christmas music (all American roots categories - blues, jazz, country, folk, zydeco, cajun, etc.). I also do a Christmas radio show on the local Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio station. I have become aware of an LP and seasonal song by Chicago bluesman Lefty Dizz entitled "Somebody Stole My Christmas." I can't find it anywhere and thought you might be able to help me in my search. All the best and thanks again for providing such a great resource for us Christmas music collectors. - Peter Halpin, Executive Director Association of Atlantic Universities
Randy Responds. Thanks, Peter! You stumped me there - I'd never heard of the singer or the song. Turns out, "Somebody Stole My Christmas" was the title track to an otherwise non-Christmas LP Lefty recorded in France and released on French label Isabel Records. Best I can tell, the song has never been reissued, digitized, or anthologized. That's a shame, but it was covered in 2008 by a band called the Chicago Kingsnakes. I also learned that Lefty Dizz (real name Walter Williams) was an American blues guitarist and singer born in Osceola, Arkansas and based in Chicago, though he obviously worked in Europe, as well.
December 17, 2009. Writer Jim Dees published "Better Watch Out! Don't get trapped in an uncool Yule..." in Oxford Town (issue #853), the weekly free entertainment guide of the Oxford, Mississippi newspaper, The Oxford Eagle (now defunct). In conclusion he wrote, "Special thanks to hipchristmas.com for their incredible array of Christmas tunes."
Randy Responds. You are very welcome, Jim! Thanks for sending along a copy which, for posterity's sake, I have posted online.
November 18, 2007. You're awesome! I always look forward to your yearly Christmas lists and "gifts," but I'm going broke buying all of these new reissues! Anyway, do you know where I can find a Rita Faye Wilson collection? I'm a sucker for those old big-voiced, little-kid numbers! I have digital copies of " I Fell Out Of A Christmas Tree" (1953) and "Sleighbells , Reindeer, and Snow" (1955), but I'm wondering about others like "I Want Santa Claus for Christmas" (1954). - Susan DeWeese
Randy Responds. Thanks, Susan. You're awesome, too. Those big voice kiddie platters - exemplified by Gayla Peevey's "I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas" (1953) or Jimmy Boyd's "I Saw Mommy For Christmas" (1955) - are kinda cool in a geeky sorta way, but Rita Faye Wilson is a pretty obscure example. The records to which you refer were released by "Little Rita Faye" as singles on the MGM label between 1953 and 1955, and I'll bet your "digital copies" originated on on Universal's Children's Christmas collection (1995) and the kitschy John Water's Christmas (2004). But a whole CD of that stuff? Don't hold your breath....
November 15, 2007. Regarding your Top 100 Christmas Songs list, what about "Christmas Must Be Tonight" by The Band? That is southern rock at it's best! - Terry Quillen
Randy Responds. I certainly don't disagree, Terry. Let's call it #101.... The Band actually recorded "Christmas Must Be Tonight" twice. Written by Robbie Robertson, the mournful "official" version comes from Islands (1977) and is sung by Rick Danko. However, the Band had recorded a very different, funkier version of the song in 1975 with Levon Helm at the, um, helm. This version sat unreleased until its inclusion of the CD reissue of Northern Lights-Southern Cross (1975).
November 9, 2007. I just thought I email you to let know how much I enjoy your Christmas site. Over the last couple of years I've referred to it both for news about what releases were out there and whether the ones I knew about were worth purchasing. Please keep up the good work. BTW, I made a playlist for my iPod of your Top 100 Christmas Songs list. I have 61 of them. It's a great mix! - John Young
Randy Responds. Well, thanks, John. What more can I say? Back to work...
October 28, 2007. I'm Barb Jungr, former member of the Three Courgettes. Last year, you posted a copy of the Courgettes' "Christmas Is Coming" on your website (click here). I was thrilled to find it as I don't have my own copy and would love to have one. Is there any way you could send me a copy? I'd be very grateful. - Barb Jungr (www.barbjungr.co.uk)
Randy Responds. Good to hear from you, Barb. I'm sending a high quality MP3 of your song ripped it from my vinyl copy of Ze Records' A Christmas Record (one of my Top 20 Albums). Any idea why they left it off the CD version? Was that because the Courgettes were signed to Island, not Ze?
Barb replies. Thank you so much, Randy! I don't know why Ze left it off, but it's something I've always been proud of - even though I didn't have a copy! I am incredibly grateful! - Barb
October 6, 2007. Your website has the best reviews of holiday music that I've seen on the
web. I love your coverage of the holiday classics of yesteryear. Have
you heard California Christmas by Scott West? His version of "Auld Lang
Syne" is the most moving that I've ever heard. Village Voice critic Marie
Lila named it one of her "Top Ten Best Recordings of Auld Lang Syne." The album has both soft and edgier versions of "Auld
Lang Syne." The version with guitar is my favorite. West's album is a tribute
to singer-songwriter James Pierpont, who wrote "Jingle Bells." - Sarah Durran
Randy Responds. Thanks for the tip, Sarah. I found the album on CD Baby, and it sounds fun. Can't promise I'll get to it any time soon, though. Couldn't help but notice that your email address was attributed to a certain "Scott West." Friend of yours....?
June 14, 2007. I recently purchased a Blondie flexi-disc that contained Christmas music. I wasn't sure about whether it was really Debbie Harry and "Fab Five Freddie" (as he's listed only as "Freddie" on the disc). In fact, I knew nothing about the damn thing! That is, until I found "Yuletown Throwdown" listed in your Songs & Singles index! Thanks! Also, I think that the label on the flexi-disc mixes up the b-sides. "The Christmas Song" is credited to the Brattles, while "Santa's Agent" is credited to Snuky Tate. Mr. Tate is known to have gone from punk to a pop-reggae style, which is how "The Christmas Song" sounds. And the Brattles were actually youngsters (13-15 years old), which is about how old the vocalists on "Santa's Agent" sound. - Mike Wilkins
Randy Responds. You're welcome, Mike. And thanks, back at ya - I never would have discerned that mix-up regarding the b-sides.
December 28, 2006. Loved your lists of Christmas albums. Here are a few you should check out: Low's Christmas is great album in their ultra-slow style. It mixes classics (such as a super version of "Blue Christmas") with exceptional originals like "Just Like Christmas," a catchy song about life on the road overseas during the holidays; "If You Were Born Today," a somber, sobering song that surmises that if Jesus was born today, he'd "be killed by age eight"; and a great ditty called "Taking Down The Tree." A rare, moody treat for the holidays - definitely a Christmas soundtrack for today's world.
Another classic is the Blue Hawaiians' Christmas On The Big Island - great surf/exotica a la the Ventures with a stranger, moodier edge. Definitely will make your Top 20 after a listen or two - or hundred. Also have to comment also on the inclusion of Punk Rock Xmas - filthy and dirty, Christmas the way it was meant to be! Thanks, and keep up the good work. - Paul Abrego (Massachusetts)
Randy Responds. Thanks, Paul - I actually own both the Low and Blue Hawaiians albums, and I like them both - I just haven't put together reviews. So many records, so little time....
December 21, 2006. Love your site! I am a vinyl/CD junkie born in 1958, and I wish I had the time to be as elaborate as your web page is. Every year for the past 9 years I have compiled a Christmas CD that I pass out to friends and family. I share rare things and try to make Christmas special. It's nice to find websites that introduce even me to more Christmas music. Thanks for a great site. - Howard Cogswell
Randy Responds. Thanks! Happy to pass on the mania to someone else...
December 18, 2006. I've been trying to find something I heard about 20 years ago at a Christmas party - "Little Drummer Dude" by the Ghostly Trio. Very mellow with lots of squeaking saxophone? I've found a few copies of the vinyl album, but I no longer have a (working) turntable. Any chance you could point me towards a CD or MP3 copy of that song or album? - K.C. Murphy
Randy Responds. To my knowledge, Christmas With The Ghostly Trio (1989) was originally released only on vinyl, and as of this writing, it has never been reissued on CD or otherwise. It's been called "the bizarre Christmas album of all time," but it is historically significant mainly because Violent Femmes drummer Victor DeLorenzo produced it.
December 18, 2006. Thank you for making the holiday season much better. We have been streaming your Christmas Jukebox quite a bit this month, and it has brought much joy. I am one of those people that can enjoy each of the songs on your playlist. It is great of you to share such gems. - Mark Norwich
Randy Responds. You are very welcome, Mark. Hopefully, my playlist will be much bigger for next year! (Postscript: It was.)
December 13, 2006. I've been looking everywhere for "Dear Santa, Have You Had the Measles?" by Lael Calloway to no avail. From what I could tell on your site, you haven't found it either. And, you list "Christmas in Killarney" as an unfound song. Do you just mean the version by that particular artist, April March? You probably know that Bing Crosby recorded that song. My mom still has the album that we listened to every Christmas growing up in the 50's. - Julia Farrell
Randy Responds. Right on both counts, Julia. Looks like "we're a couple of misfits." The Lael Calloway song (she's Cab's daughter, by the way) has never been issued on CD - and don't hold your breath. And, that April March song has proved equally elusive. I have the Bing Crosby version - it can be found on several discs, most notably The Voice Of Christmas, MCA's exhaustive compilation of Der Bingle's Decca holiday recordings. (Postscript: I later found both 45-rpm records. Sadly, the April March who recorded "Christmas In Killarney" turned out to be a forgotten 60's lounge singer - not the priestess of cool who recorded Chick Habit.)
December 6, 2006. Can you help me find this song on CD or MP3? I'm looking for "Coming Home For Christmas" by Edward Bear. I hear it on the radio here at Christmastime, but I can't find it anywhere!!! - Maxine Kendall (Canada)
Randy Responds. In the United States, Edward Bear (a band, not a person) had just one major hit ("Last Song," 1972). They sustained quite a career in their native Canada, however. "Coming Home For Christmas" came out as a non-LP, 45-rpm single in 1973, and I suspect it was sent only to radio stations - that is, not available in stores. Regardless, it's never been reissued on CD - not even in Canada where the band's Collection was released in 1995.
December 4, 2006. I thoroughly enjoyed going over your various Christmas Lists. But, your list Horny Holidays raised a question I couldn't find an answer to. Has Ben Light's 1936 recording "Christmas Balls" ever been released on anything other than an old 78? I've never been able to find it anywhere - and I've been looking for years. - Bob Duncan
Randy Responds. Glad you asked. I hadn't looked in awhile, and I've got good news and bad news. The good news is, this rare, naughty nugget has finally been reissued. The bad news? It's only available as an MP3 download. "Christmas Balls" is included on Radio & Recording Rarities Vol. 1 (2006), the first of a lengthy series of "albums" (i.e. groups of MP3 files) compiled by Lowlights Publishing.
November 8, 2006. You have a great site - keep up the good work! Have you heard, or have an opinion about, the Saturday Night Live parody from last year called "Christmastime For The Jews"? The song was in the style of Phil Spector and sung (really) by Darlene Love. It accompanied a black-and-white 'Claymation' video by Robert Smigel. In my opinion, it was one of the best things SNL did last year. - Justin Barrientos (Winona, Minnesota)
Randy Responds. Thanks - I'd missed it. Funny stuff, and Miss Darlene is still in fine voice. Last time I looked, the video was posted at Vimeo, but the song had never been issued on CD or for download. BTW, don't miss my article about Christmas songs by the Chosen People, Jews For Jesus.
October 31, 2006. I have a few CD's that I would like to have reviewed by your website. They're by my band, Yes Virginia. We have been releasing Christmas albums each year since 1997. Visit us online at www.myspace.com. - Paul Janocha
Randy Responds. Thanks, Paul - nicely played, but not my speed. A little too much like Mannheim Steamroller or Trans-Siberian Express (which clearly indicates I am in the minority). Regardless, best of luck. Thanks to Google, the links to your site(s) should help you more than any review ever could.
October 6, 2006. Just noticed that you added the Christmas Yuleblog to your links section. Thank you - I'm honored! - Rob "CaptainOT" Martinez (Fort Wayne, Indiana)
Randy Responds. I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!
January 3, 2006. I found your site while looking for ideas for Christmas mixes. When I saw you listed the Drifters' "White Christmas" as the #2 song, I knew I had come to the right place. I've already found a number of great tunes I would otherwise never had heard about. Anyhow, I've really only started reading your Top 100 Songs, but the entire site looks very intriguing. Thanks for putting it all together. - Scott Reardon
Randy Responds. Many thanks, Scott. My Top 100 Songs list was as much fun to write as it is to read. Even more fun to listen to....
January 2, 2006. I've been searching the web trying to find more information on Bobby Helms' multiple versions of "Jingle Bell Rock." I own four different versions, and I've heard another on an oldies station. Each one is good in it's own way. I know other artists like Nat King Cole recorded many versions of their signature Christmas songs. Do you know much about Helms' many versions of "Jingle Bell Rock"? - Marty Dumic
Randy Responds. Bobby Helms (read more) recorded the definitive version of "Jingle Bell Rock" for Decca Records in 1957 (b/w "Captain Santa Claus"). It reached #6 pop and #13 country, and it registered on the Christmas charts nearly every year for another decade. That's the version found on most reputable compilations like MCA's Rockin' Little Christmas and Christmas Hits.
Helms released his second reading of the song on Kapp Records in 1965 (b/w "The Bell That Couldn't Jingle"), but if that version has ever been reissued on CD, I am unaware of it. Then, he released a third version on the Little Darlin' label in 1967 (b/w "I Want To Go To Santa Claus Land"); that version leads off Koch Records' CD reissue, A Little Darlin' Christmas (which includes four unreleased songs by Johnny Paycheck). (Around the same time, Koch also issued CD single that contains several modern remixes of "Jingle Bell Rock.")
And, I'm pretty sure that's it, but it's hard to say - Bobby's mother probably couldn't tell you how many times he recorded his signature song. Marty - you say you own four different versions? I can document that singles came out on Certron (1970 b/w "The Old Year Is Gone") and Mistletoe (1974 b/w "Jingle Bells"), but these seemly likely to have been pulled from the 1967 sessions. All those songs appear on A Little Darlin' Christmas, and every Helms Christmas LP I've ever seen has a track listing nearly identical to A Little Darlin' Christmas (minus the Paycheck tracks).
One problem is, Helms never released a formal Christmas album on Decca, Kapp, or Little Darlin' (during his lifetime, at least). And, he spent the rest of his career haunting in the murky world of budget-oriented, independent labels, a fact that makes discographical research almost impossible. I used to see several 12-inch LP's (including the one reissued by Collectables) in the racks back in the 1970's, but those records, and the numerous albums you'll see on Amazon (on cheapie labels like Laserlight, Pilz, and KRB), were pieced together ex post facto and almost certainly contain his later recordings. Exactly which recordings is hard to say – perhaps you can enlighten me, Marty!
December 18, 2005. I was browsing Amazon.com looking for Kitty Wells music, and I came across your comment about how bad of a job the record company did of reissuing her Christmas album. What a disappointment! I have loved her Christmas album ever since I was a little girl. Actually, it was an eight-track tape my parents owned, but oh, the fond memories I have of those songs! Do you have any suggestions? - Nancy Pelletier
Randy Responds. Sorry - I'm in the same boat. I'd love a good CD version, but it just doesn't exist. You can always look for an original LP (or 8-track tape!). Maybe next year Universal (who owns Wells' Decca masters) will do for Kitty what they did this year for Loretta Lynn. But, don't hold your breath...
December 16, 2005. Wow! I thought I had an extensive Christmas collection! Amazing. I stumbled across your website while doing some research for my own Christmas library. I linked to your site while trying to figure out what year the Debbie Dabney cut on Christmas Party With Eddie G had been released, and I ended up surfing until was 3:00 a.m.! I need to go to sleep, otherwise I would list what I have. In the meantime, let me tell you what a fantastic website you have, and I may be bugging you in the future with questions about my collection. - Tom Puckett (Royal Oak, Michigan)
Randy Responds. Sorry about the sleep deprivation, Tom. I often find myself in the same boat. Feel free to email me with questions - I love to hear from fellow fanatics. Now, go to bed!
December 7, 2005. Just had loadsa fun browsing through your Christmas tunes, but couldn't see any reference to Drugstore's "Xmas In The Arctic Pole," which is one of my favourites. Want it the MP3? - Royston Harwood
Randy Responds. Well, sure! I'm familiar with "Maybe At Christmas Time" from It's A Cool Cool Christmas (2000), but nothing else. Thanks! (Postscript: I later learned that "Xmas In The Arctic Pole" began life as an unreleased demo and was included on Collector Number One, a collection of rare and live recordings originally released as a tour-souvenir item under the title "Los Droguelinos.")
December 5, 2005. Do you have the sheet music or a recording of "The Hat I Got For Christmas Is Too Big"? If so, how much would it cost? - Vernon Kohlbusch
Randy Responds. Sorry, Vernon, I don't actually sell anything. All the same, I am familiar with the song. It's by Mel Blanc - the voice of Bug Bunny and many other cartoon characters - and it's actually called "The Hat I Got For Christmas Is Too BEEG" (spelled like Speedy Gonzales might say it). Recently, Collector's Choice Records put out a very good CD containing that and several of Mel Blanc's other Christmas songs - Best of Mel Blanc: Man of 1000 Voices. "Hat" was also issued on Christmas Comedy Classics - now deleted, rare, expensive.
April 6, 2005. Nice christmas website! BTW, do you know anything about a Christmas song called "Come On To The Christmas Party" by the J. Geils Band recording under the name of "The Snowballs?" I've never heard it, but some swear it exists. - VD King (www.betteroffdead.com)
Randy Responds. Yes, I do. Indeed, the J. Geils Band recorded "Come On To The Christmas Party" under the Snowballs pseudonym, and it sounds nothing like their usual blues-based rock. In fact, the song is a tribute to - get this - the Chipmunks. And, Mr. Geils plays saxophone - not guitar. However, the song was recorded only for radio broadcast (in Boston on Christmas day, 1980) and never officially released. Last time I looked, you could download a copy at www.bostonmonkey.net.
January 23, 2005. I'm searching for a novelty Christmas song from 1966 (I believe). It had significant air play that year and the next, before it disappeared forever. I don't know the name of it and I don't know the artist. The chorus went, "Everything is alright, uptight, outta sight, Christmas is a drag, Santa's got a brand new bag." Can you help? - John Magner
Randy Responds. Well, my best guess is "Santa's Got A Brand New Bag" by Gary Walker (1965) featured on Rhino's Best Of Cool Yule (read more), or Bob Seger's "Sock It To Me Santa" (1966) featured on Polygram's Rock 'n' Roll Christmas). Both songs are modeled on James Brown's "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag."
December 23, 2004. Great Christmas list - the most comprehensive list of "cool" Christmas tunes I've found! You've got some stuff listed there that I had no idea existed, and I've been collecting Christmas songs for about 25 years. But, hey, where is the Yobs' Christmas album?
My own collection started with a scratched vinyl copy of the Jackson 5 Christmas album and the Phil Spector Christmas album. From there, it was Bruce Springsteen, all of the 80's MTV Christmas songs (Billy Squier, Bryan Adams, etc.), and various old singles like Gene Autry's "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer." Keith Richards' "Run Rudolph Run" is the highlight of my collection.. - Ed Clough
Randy Responds. Thanks, Ed! I love the Yobs, and I have (now) reviewed them - take a look. I chose their "C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S" for my Top 100 Songs, 'cuz it's the filthiest of them all....
December 18, 2004. Quick question: Who did the original vocal version of "Sleigh Ride"? The Andrew Sisters? Or, someone else? - Matt Masters
Randy Responds. Leroy Anderson wrote the melody of "Sleigh Ride" in 1948, and the Boston Pops recorded their first of many versions for RCA in 1949; a 1970 Polydor stereo version is included on A Leroy Anderson Christmas. In 1952, Anderson recorded his own instrumental version (included on both A Leroy Anderson Christmas and Sleigh Ride: The Best of Leroy Anderson).
Meanwhile, Mitchell Parish added lyrics to "Sleigh Ride" in 1950, and Johnny Desmond recorded a vocal version that year with the Ray Conniff Singers and Tony Mottola Orchestra (included on Rhino's Santamental Journey and Hip-O's Yule B' Swingin'). I cannot say that Desmond's version is the original version - but it's the earliest vocal version among the dozens I own.
December 16, 2004. My parents would play Christmas music every year - Jim Reeves, and stuff like that. I am looking for an instrumental Christmas album they used to play. It had to be around 1968 or earlier. I know what the cover of the album looks like, but for the life of me, I can't remember the artist or any of the songs. Can you help? - Glennis Richter
Randy Responds. Sorry, that's not much to go on. You should try posting your query on the forum at www.falalalala.com - that crew is pretty insane with their knowledge of obscure Christmas records.
December 12, 2004. I really enjoyed your site - it's very well done, and I like your taste in music. I wanted to express my thanks for your article, Christmas In Vietnam. This year, my annual Christmas disc was a collection of songs about Christmas in Vietnam. I was able to find the tracks you listed, and I was able to track down a couple that you didn't list. Your background information was a big help. Again, great site. Keep up the good work. - Chris Dove (Houston, Texas)
Randy Responds. Thanks for your kind words. I hope the site will grow a lot in the next year. My Christmas CD collection had grown considerably since I wrote Christmas In Vietnam. In that vein, would you send me whatever information you have on those songs you dug up? Always trying to expand my knowledge base - send me an email .
December 10, 2004. A possible addition to Horny Holidays, your list of the sexiest Christmas songs, could be "I've Got Some Presents For Santa" by Sarah Taylor & Bill Mumy - yes, the guy who played Will Robinson on Lost in Space. - Carl McCaskey (Tallahassee, Florida)
Randy Responds. Wow, that looks kooky. I'm adding that to My Wish List! (Postscript: I tracked down a copy and added the song and a review to my Songs & Singles index. And yes, it's sexy - actually, dirty might be a better adjective. And, it's very rare - released briefly on CD single by Rhino Records.)
November 28, 2004. I was looking for "I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas" by Gayla Peevey (1953), and I found it listed on your site. How do I download it - or can I? - Michael Herring
Randy Responds. No - you can't. I don't actually sell anything. But, you can click through to Amazon to download it, or you can read more about a really good CD that has the "Hippo" song - and then click through to buy that. Either way, I get a few pennies to support Hip Christmas, and you get that silly, silly song.
November 21, 2004. Hi, you have a great website! I have an mp3 of a Christmas song that sounds like a Phil Spector "girl group" production. I really like the song, but I don't know the title or artist, and I was hoping you'd be able to help. The lyrics go, "All I want, baby, is your love for Christmas." - Justin Barrientos (Winona, Minnesota)
Randy Responds. That's "Love For Christmas" by the Gems (1964). If you're looking to buy, I recommend Rockin' Little Christmas (MCA, 1986), one of my Top 20 Albums. If you click through my website to purchase it, I make a few cents towards defraying my costs.
November 17, 2004. Check out "Merry Christmas, With Love" by Clay Aiken. It's #3 on Amazon! Didn't see it on your list... - Glinda Fox
Randy Responds. Not really a fan... I try to write about things I can (mainly) say good things about. (Postscript: Glinda responded, "Sorry you feel that way. Your loss!")
June 10, 2004. I was reading about your site, and I really dig it. You were listed in a Christmas article in "The Aging Hipster." We have a Christmas CD that I think you would like. I see that you list the Beach Boys' Ultimate Christmas. Well, our group is the Malibooz, and we have a CD called A Malibu Kind Of Christmas. - John Zambetti (The Malibooz)
Randy Responds. Hey, John - I've been aware of your group ever since I bought Rhino Records' little Christmas tree-shaped EP, Christmas Rocks (read more). And, I have your CD - good stuff! Someday (someday...) I will write a review.
February 13, 2004. I just found your article about Christmas In Vietnam. I have been searching for several years for a song that I heard during the Vietnam War. I can't remember who sung it or much about it, but the song was about a homesick solider at Christmas time, and he was writing home . There was a line about "There will be no snow this Christmas," and birds were singing in the background - like the sounds of a jungle. This song touch me so much, but I only heard it once on the radio. - Anita
Randy Responds. I'm nearly certain that the song of which you speak is the Derrick Roberts song I discuss - "There Won't Be Any Snow (Christmas In The Jungle)." It's got the lyrics you mentioned, he writes home, he talks about being lonely, and it's got bird (and monkey) sound effects. It is a touching song - though from a post-modern perspective, it's fairly silly, too.
January 23, 2004. First, let me thank you for the wonderful Christmas information on your web site. I became addicted to Christmas songs a couple of years ago, after I retired, and was overjoyed to find such a rich historical documentation of the subject. Second, I want to point out an inconsistency. Your list of Christmas songs includes four by the Roches, but their CD, We Three Kings, is not reviewed. Whatever you decide, thanks again for making my day! - Joe Schaviak
Randy Responds. Sharp eye, Joe. I just hadn't gotten around to it, but I have now - here's my review.
January 23, 2004. Holy cats. You are not a normal person, which I mean as a high compliment. Thanks for sharing your site! - John Ratliff
Randy Responds. That's funny - my wife says the same thing. And, you're welcome.
January 16, 2004. Your website is great and full of information! I'll put it in my favorites folder and refer to it often - I just found it tonight while researching some Christmas stuff. I too love old obscure Christmas music, especially doo-wop. Thanks for a great site. - Ed Rupp
Randy Responds. May thanks, Ed. Doo wop rules!
December 22, 2003. Hi, I just wanted to tell you,
I was searching for an MP3 on Google - uhh,"I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas," Yogi
Yorgesson - and I came across your site. Google found it, even though the MP3
for that song was not there (I found it on Kazaa later). Anyway, the reason I
am dropping you a line is to tell you that I feel like I struck a gold mine when
I found your site. I was blown away by your Top 20
Albums list - I want it ALL! LOL. I didn't even realize how great the site
really was till I looked around a li'l more and found that its named after a Sex
Pistols gig. WOW! My favorite all time band, always will be - them and the Cramps,
of course. I will definitely be spending a lot of time here, reading and learning
and discovering. I myself am a big flea market vinyl junkie. My wife takes the
baby and walks around while I spend hours looking for that one record that I
know has to be cool and I can't wait to take home and hear. I just wanted to
let you know how great your site is. It has to be the best music site on the
net!!! THANKS A LOT! Keep up the great work! Merry Christmas, stay sick, turn
blue! - Josh
Randy Responds. Aw, shucks... I always appreciate
a little pat on the back, and it warms my heart to now that my obsession fuels
somebody else's obsession. Stay sick yourself, big guy.
December 2, 2003. It's about that time of year again.
I've been making a mix tape/CD that I send out to friends with discerning holiday
music for the last nine years. Just came upon your website and am quite impressed.
I thought I was the only obsessive compulsive freak that gathered all this stuff.
Nice to meet a follow traveler. Great site!.....and a few rarities that I hadn't
heard of. Keep of the good work and Happy Holidays. - Laurie Miller (Chicago, Illinois)
Randy Responds. Ever since I posted that Christmas
update, freaks like you (and me) have been coming out of the woodwork. Not that
many, really, but enough to make me feel a little better about my particular
obsession. And, actually, almost all of us make an annual Christmas mix tape
- Nick Hornby (or John Cusack) would be proud. Thanks for the kind words and,
of course, Merry Christmas.
December 2, 2003. Just a quick thanks! I'm transferring
all my Christmas singles onto my hard drive and found your site has all the original
release years listed. This has saved me the time of going through stacks of records
hoping to find the dates. Merry Christmas! - Casey
Randy Responds. You're welcome - at least my obsession
serves a purpose!
October 6, 2003. Hi there. I am scoring a film and am trying to determine the popular Christmas music in 1972. Do you have any ideas as to who might have sung the most popular Christmas tunes that year? - Ashley York
Randy Responds. Well, nobody, really. Those were dark days for popular Christmas music - especially rock-oriented records. It just wasn't very hip. That said, the Partridge Family and Johnny Cash both released decent (not great) Christmas albums that year, and a few interesting singles came out (Everly Brothers, Commander Cody, Mack Rice, Glen Campbell). One of the best Christmas songs of 1972, Nilsson's "Remember (Christmas)" doesn't even mention the holiday except in the title, and another, Marvin Gaye's "I Want To Come Home For Christmas" (an anti-war number) sat unreleased in Motown's vaults until 1993. You get the picture. If you drop back to 1971, you get John Lennon & Yoko Ono's "Happy Xmas" and Elvis Presley's "Wonderful World Of Christmas" LP. By 1973, things started to look up, with excellent Christmas sides by Elton John, Slade, the Emotions, Rufus Thomas, and others - though the total number of releases still wasn't very high.
Of all those releases, John & Yoko's "Happy Christmas" is the most important. It reached #3 on the Christmas chart in 1971, then #6 in 1972. Certainly, it is one of the few Christmas "standards" written after 1970. For all the thousands of Christmas records released since the dawn of the "new golden age" (i.e. after A Very Special Christmas kicked of a frenzy that continues to this day), very few have attained broad popularity and been recorded over and over. "Happy Xmas" is one such song.
September 9, 2003. I love Christmas records, and your site is a fantastic resource! I stumbled on your article on Christmas In Vietnam, and I wanted to share a song. "Little Becky's Christmas Wish" (1967) is a spoken word record by Little Becky Lamb. In the singer's letter to Santa, she wishes that her brother can come home for Christmas, but the girl is too young to understand that he's been killed in action and won't be home - ever again. It's a very sad record, and it speaks volumes about the sacrifices that have been made to insure our freedom. - Brian "BD Bopper" Donegan
Randy Responds. Thanks for the heads up, Brian, and thanks for attaching that MP3! I chased down a copy of the Warner Brothers 45-rpm single, and I incorporated Little Becky's story in my article. [read now]
September 4, 2003. If you ever come across the Les Paul's "Jungle Bells," let me know. I've been searching for years. If I come across it, I'll be sure to let you know. I'm glad to find someone that acknowledges its existence. I bought the 45-rpm record when it was issued in 1953 (my God, that was 50 years ago!), and I have no idea what became of it. I still have all the other Les Paul records released around that time - including some 78-rpm acetates. - Lane Long
Randy Responds. I did find the record (on which Les shared billing with wife Mary Ford), but only in the same format you once owned - scratchy 45-rpm record. To my knowledge, it's never been reissued on CD.
August 19, 2003. Thanks for the Christmas page. Also, thanks for putting dates on the songs, and here's something that I stumbled upon that you may or may not have: "Bring That Cadillac Back" by Harry "Fats" Crafton with Doc Bagby's Orchestra (1948). - Kevan Aman
Randy Responds. Whoa! Thanks, Kevan, that is one cool song! Perhaps I missed it because it doesn't mention Christmas or Santa on the title - and it's not on any Christmas compilation. Instead, it's on a CD by J.B. Summers & the Blues Shouters (Collectables, 1990). (Postscript: later issued on Document Records' Blues Blue Christmas, 2005.)
July 15, 2003. Just stumbled across your web page. It always
cheers me up to realize I'm not the only knucklehead spending way too much
time listening to Christmas music. Anyway, thought I'd proffer a suggestion: I think
you're remiss to not include the Roches' We Three Kings. These girls bring their incredible (at times unsettling) harmonies
and arrangements to a wealth of songs both sacred and secular. I've
found it to be one of the strongest offerings of the genre, with legs to
stand up to repeated
listening. - Peyton Craighill
Randy Responds. I'm not as crazy about it as you, Peyton, but I'm a fan, and I own the record. And you're right, I am remiss, so here's my review.
June 25, 2003. I am trying to find the sheet music to Kay Starr's "Everybody's Waitin' For The Man With The Bag" (one of your Top 100 Songs). Any idea where I can look? - Thomas Fernandez
Randy Responds. Try Sheet Music Plus, a website with which I'm affiliated. A quick search yielded several variations. You also might look for arrangements of Brian Setzer's Boogie Woogie Christmas - he covers the song on that album.
December 12, 2002. I have also been trying to get a copy
of "Santa Jaws" by Homemade Theatre. I was wondering if you managed to
get one? If so, I would be ever so grateful if you shared your source with me, even
though you don't know who the heck I am.
P.S. I really enjoyed your website - Kathleen Craig (Toronto, Canada).
Randy Responds. As I told another reader earlier this
year, I've posted an MP3 copy of "Santa Jaws" on this very website. It's part of my Christmas Jukebox, but click here to download it! I've never found a "real" copy
- just a muddy (though listenable) WAV file on someone else's website. I downloaded
it and converted it to an MP3. To download a copy, right click (PC) or click-and-hold
(Mac), then save the file to your hard drive.
November 19, 2002. I recall a Christmas song in the 60's
or 70's entitled "Santa Claus Is Stoned" performed by a soul or Motown-type
group. Nobody else seems to recall this song and I can't find any evidence of it,
maybe because it is so politically incorrect. Thought you might be able to confirm
this for me. - Jim Anderson (Bensalem, Pennsylvania)
Randy Responds. I'm stumped - and intrigued! My only thought
is, could you be thinking of "Santa Doesn't Cop Out On Dope"? Released
in 1973, it was the b-side to "Santafly," Martin Mull's Christmas blaxploitation
spoof. Mull was a cutting edge comedian at the time (better known now as an actor),
and he specialized in topical musical numbers. The song, satirically at least, leans
the other direction - Santa Claus isn't stoned.
June 26, 2002. I was wondering if you guys ever happened
to get a copy of "Santa Jaws" by Homemade Theater. Funny, I memorized the "Twas
the night before Christmas when all 'round the beach..." when I was a kid, and
I still spew it out to my nieces and nephews every Christmas. Any input on where
else I could look? - Myles Liversidge
Randy Responds. Why, yes, Miles, I know exactly where
you can get one - I just posted an MP3 of this wacky Christmas nugget (my first download!
we're gonna get sued!). [download now]
December 14, 2001. I really enjoyed your advice on Christmas
albums, although I think I'll skip the Soul Christmas this
year.... I've been hearing a song by Emmylou Harris this year. I suspect it's fairly
new, and I don't know the name. (It might just be simply "Christmas Song").
It's got a lot of alleluias in it. (I know that sounds musically illiterate, but
at least it's reasonably clear, I hope.) Do you know which album this is on? - Nikki
Randy Responds. Glad you liked my reviews, but pass on Soul
Christmas at your own risk - it's spectacular! As for the Harris track,
lengthy searching on my part turned up only her classic 1979 album, Light
Of The Stable, which you probably already own. Anyone?
December 13, 2001. Hey, just a quick note to say that
you've done a mighty fine job with your website. I visited it today because I was
trying to remember which track King Curtis played on on the Stax-Volt Original
Soul Christmas, which is one of my favorite holiday CDs. I'm a fan of nontraditional
holiday compilations, and you've listed some really choice items. I'd forgotten that
Phil Spector had issued such a CD years back; I'd always heard that it was one of
the best Christmas CDs produced in the rock era, so now I'll have to go out and buy
it. And Emmylou Harris is just an angel! - Bill Porter, pop culture writer, Denver
Randy Responds. I blushing just like a little girl! As
a pop culture writer wanna-be, it feels nice to get some kudos from the real thing.
I'm quite proud of my Christmas music section - hope to expand it even more by next
[top of page]
Now, you can hear the Christmas music I write about! My Christmas Jukebox is bulging with over 350 tracks, and I'll be adding more rockin' Yule tunes throughout the year. [listen now]