Less is known about the classic carol “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” than about other 19C singables. No official publication exists with authorship. Most Yule sleuths figure that guy that wrote ‘Up on the Housetop’ (school principal Benjamin Hanby) wrote this because they sound similar and came out about the sae time. The music, however, seems to come from James Pierpont’s ‘Jingle Bells,’ at least his first go at a tune–the JB we know now has another borrowed melody. A couple conspiricists even figure Montana Slim wrote JOSN, because his was the first recording.
Clement Clarke Moore’s ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’ in 1823 made Santy a thing. Before that (like 1600) we had Father Christmas, who was variously scary or cuddly. Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Present is the nice version. Thomas Nast cartoons enlarged on this image (made him fat). It’s right about then songs like this one get sung house to house.
Now some people gotta make trouble, so apart from it being hilarious that this song is syncopated and similar in melody to Pachelbel’s Canon in D, those folks say THAT’s where the music came from. Compare for yourself: Erin Freund, Bill Edwards, Glissandi show you harp, piano and combo clashes. (I like these ‘accidental plagiarisms’ of this ilk. The Ventures’ Christmas Album is full of these playful pairings. I’ll never forget hearing Peter Schikele sing Frost’s poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ to the tune of ‘Hernando’s Hideaway.’ Priceless)
But, to the matter at hand. Dave Rudolf has a clumsy Jamaican parody “Folly Old St. Nicholas” recounting a Santa and run on the highway. Sleigh accidents’re not that funny any more.
BLUE ALERT Overpriveleged and angry, young Hunter tries out all the profanity he can on that authority figure in “Jolly Old St. Nicholas.” Something’s got his stocking in a twist.
Richard Pepper challenges himself to write parodies every year on his blog. His “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” is short and sour.
Stan Boreson (The King of Scandinavian Humor… from the ’60s; no one dethrones the living Yogi Yorgeson–ever) along with Doug Setterberg sing the big dumb Svede variety: “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas.” It’s narrow demographic fun.
So let’s settle back on good old Samuel Stokes. His erudite logic in “Jolly Old St. Nicholas–Change Your Ways” reexamines that red-suited elf with a critical gaze. Lissen up, Nick-o. This man should be running your PR.