You Auto Have a Merry Christmas: truckmas-5

Now a good truckin’ song, a fair country song, and maybe one or two Christmas songs ought to have a long narrated story about crushed dreams melted away by a miracle of human spirit (cf. ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ if it were a folk ballad).

So, you’d better sit down within the range of a box of tissues…

Dean Wilt gives it the old country try with “Santa and the Trucker.” After an NDE, a trucker experiences the love of Christmas with Santa’s magic. Bippety boppety boo. But–he owes the big man a favor…. (A better, albeit with more singing, version of the boy/daddy dilemma is by Red Simpson.)

In fact, let’s let Red Simspon preach his “The Old Christmas Truck” about a hobo trying to truck toys to the mountainous orphanage… does he die? Is he Jesus? Or–?

The king of kings of winter weepies has to be Red Sovine singing about that crippled kid trucker orphan “Teddy Bear” from 1970. This was a hit in its own way, revisited by Diana Williams six years later with “Teddy Bear’s Last Ride” revealing Mama’s side of the story after… after… gulp  –What! the Kleenex is all gone? Cruel, cruel Christmas carol!

You Auto Have a Merry Christmas: truckmas-4

Wait–what kind of truck might Santa pilot?

Keith Harling rocks his country song 1990s style to explain “Santa’s Got a Semi.” Beep beep bye-bye. And if you’re not sure what kind of Saint we got here, his trucks got ‘a star on the hood.’ Just so’s you know.

Lady country counterpart Lisa Layne adds some bouncy boogie boogie piano for her “Santa Drives an Eighteen Wheeler.” She hollers like it’s the night before–!

Richie McDonald tries an updated rockin’ country tune, a hootin’ hollerin’ hoedown of a tale: “Peterbilt Sleigh“–but Santa’s riding shotgun here.

Where’s a twangy fan of real cowboy country s’posed to turn? Lowell Shyette founded proto punk band Little Boy Blues back in the ’60s, then became a Vietnam vet and exhorted America with tunes like ‘Ronald Reagan Mr. President’ and ‘God Bless John Wayne.’ So who better than to deliver authentic country in the form of “Santa Drives a Peterbilt”? Some of you will shake your head. [Spoiler: Santa’s CB handle is Merry Christmas Ho Ho Ho!]

Wrap the Rainbow: brown

Is brown a color or an artistic accident? I claim it’s a variant of orange, so here we go:

Strange Italian band Amici di Roland seems to make fun of trash (USA) TV from the 1980s with their mishmash of samples and styles. They are energetic and fun and remind me of fellow novelteer Pete the Elf. So, even though i can’t understand them or tell what’s color-conscious here comes “Brown Christmas.”

As amusing, Ken Jones delivers the toys by UPS proxy, but wants the kids to know “Santa Drives a Big Brown Truck” to the tune of ‘Wonderland.’ Sign here please.

BLUE ALERT – White rapper Wax dubs about your mom and his personal detractors with what he considers a “Brown Christmas.” It seems he means to poo on your joy like he’s a pantsless Santa erupting overhead.

Let’s veer briefly into a more palatable brown and get a bit more suburban white with Dommsn82 improvving on the guitar with his “Chocolate Song (for Christmas).” It’s a brown thing. If that seems too secular, enjoy a taste of choirboy Christopher Trotter singing “Chocolate for Christmas.” Although these foreigners think putting the sweet treet on the tree is okay, i like when they say ‘chocky.’ Well, i have to stop here before i go all foodie on you–we’ll do that another month.

Bottom of the heap here is one of those ‘Rudolph’ redneck rip-offs. A few ‘humorous’ collections to record “Randolph, the Brown-Nosed Reindeer” (Billy Joe Duprix for example) for a lack of momentum-control. Slightly more witty is Mike Sikorsky with “Bradley, the Brown-Nosed Reindeer,” which pulls ahead–not only for superior alliteration–but also for great lines like ‘Unless your name is Rudolph, the scenery never changes.’

Christmas Every Day: November

At least one (Christian) singer recognizes the early call for observance of the reason for the season. Cliff Richard sings earnestly about “November Night” signaling all wise men to camel up.

Moslty, November has the bad rap of being TOO EARLY!

Songs in general include Paul and Storm’s “The Way-Too-Early Christmas Song.” It’s soothingly bluesy, like they’re not really mad about it. Despite the unholy fracas in the tale of the tune.

Enna Chow sings (quietly) about how “It’s Way Too Early for Christmas Carols.” It’s cool girl with a guitar pretty to listen to. She doesn’t have much to say beyond the title.

Leading the titular charge is Strangeday with a bouncy rocker “Christmas in November.” They appreciate the spirit at least. And allow for an October start… wait, that’s sarcastic?

Christmas too early may displace other observances. This is a thing. It has inspired songs. The Punters sing about “Xmas in November” disrespecting veterans. (It’s Canadian so that musses up Remembrance Day, similar to our own Veterans’ Day.)

An odd Bob Cratchit entry is Royal Bustards singing “Last Day of November (A Christmas Song)” about standing up to unholy bosses and being jobless just before the holidays. Cold bummer.

Okay, haters, listen up. Putting up your Christmas tree too early may have perfectly good reasons. Like Little Jimmy is dying, you bastards! Let Elton Britt, tell you why he’s having a 1963 “Christmas in November.” Boo ho ho hoo.

Christmas Every Day: April

Here’s why i started the search for nativity periodicity. Unavailable commercially, but downloadable (for free) Bah and the Humbugs may be the premier satiric Christmas rock band (so it says on their website). As such you ought to listen to the prolonged parable of “Christmas in April.” It will lift your spirits, then spin them about, perhaps crashing into furniture before ending up in a heap behind the potted ferns.

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Manger Management: Rodent Rites (5)

Christmas mice, rats… hmm, what else in the rodent line?

Oh yeah… chipmunks. Feh.

Not a fan of Christmas chipmunks. Not. I’ll let Bob Rivers make what fun he can with “The Twisted Chipmunk Song” paired with “Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire.”

What else…

The Caroleer Singers and Orchestra tootle out “A Squirrel’s Christmas Wish” as a PG version of the Over the Hedge character. It’s catchy. Squirrely even.

Winding up the most successful of the mammalian orders is “Earl the Squirrel,” an industrious winter wonder as sung by our friends to the North The Moffats. Nice one, kids.

Manger Management: Avian Maria (3)

A world of cartoon ducks and parakeets sing their own Christmas songs,  but not about ducks and tweety-birds–only about their damaged character pathologies/speech impediments.

What about Nativity bird-songs, you say?

Here’s one i almost missed: Brad Paisley has an oddity entitled “Penguin, James Penguin.” It’s country comedy cut into the shape of a spy spoof featuring a secret agent bird. No, i didn’t believe it either.

Bonnie Whitehurst sings “Snowflake, the Snow Owl.” This is based on the children’s book ‘Snowflake’s Christmas Magic’ about how Santa has animal help to deliver all the presents. Sounds like pagan witchcraft with familiars, if you ask me.

Mourning Dove” purports to be a carolling hymn in the old style. The Stairwell Carollers carry on like they’re reverently upset about the whole holiday. Prepare to be sadly lulled.

Bend an ear, instead to The Ole Timey Down Home Country Red State Update Podcast’s tale of the pesky “Christmas Crow,” sung by Adrian Rose Leonard. Learn the lesson and pass it along. Or wait for the bird beating at the end.

Baby It’s Cold: 1956 dance party

Who wants to dance to that new fangled music? You know, that hard-driving black soul with a harmonious chorus? That poor person country swing with a whiskey bottle beat?

The Youngsters begin to turn our tried and true doo wop into rhythm and blues. In 1955 they put out ‘Don’t Fall in Love Too Soon’ and ‘Shattered Dreams.’ By 1956 they have reususcitated 1929’s “Christmas in Jail.” If it walks like a rock and quacks like a roll…

Long Island white guys tried on that old doo wop sound as The Echoes in ’55. With the help of Gee Records, as The Debonairs, they released the single “Christmas Time/Crazy Santa Claus.” It’s measured and slick and trying too hard. But it’s a gas.

I’m not partial to covers of standards regardless of the funk that gets brung, but “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by The Cadillacs crafts something R&B without slick bells and whistles. This is the raw power of cool, the soul of rock ‘n’ roll.

Country music this decade keeps toying with a hard backbeat. Unable to break into Sun Records, Cordell Jackson starts her own label to sing and produce her own music including “Rock and Roll Christmas” and “Beboppers’ Christmas.” Do you feel the power of Elvis compel you? Well, honky tonk you too.

Brenda Lee is 10 years old in 1956. The shorty poor Atlantan sang for candy at the neighborhood store, and worked up to radio shows. She will use her country rhythm later to rule pop/rock in the ’60s. Here she sings from her second single of all time: “Christy Christmas” backed by my favorite poverty-aggressive Christmas song “I’m Gonna Lasso Santa Claus.”

Baby It’s Cold: 1953 charcoal ‘n chalk

The fusion of black doo wop and country swing hasn’t quite happened to make bona fide rock ‘n’ roll yet. So let’s check out the unsegregated part of town. It’s pretty swell.

One of the biggest deals in music overall, and a hugely successful ‘crossover’ to the white side of the music world, Louis Armstrong, churned out hits in the ’20s and ’30s. By 1953 his “Christmas Night in Harlem” and “Cool Yule” are nice enough tunes by that old guy.

For those who dig their blues unadulterated with that fancy jazz syncopation, Lightning Hopkins tears himself up for “Merry Christmas.” Damn. Look out, whites.

Phil Moore was a movie studio style acceptable black man. His Phil Moore Four had that ‘in’ and were able to keep from bleaching their sound, yet play to everyone. “The Blink Before Christmas,” b/w “Chinchy Old Scrooge” lay down the black and raise up the Beat (Generation). Xmas don’t get much cooler.

The most acceptable black man in music, Nat King Cole, plays it completely mainstream with “The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot” (featured in the documentary ‘Jingle Bell Rocks‘) (Flipside “Mrs. Santa Claus“). Poor may be read as code for black, but with NKC race is hardly an issue.

Here on the cusp of rock ‘n’ roll, we simply must give doo wop its due. 1953 is early in the meteoric rise of The Moonglows to pop iconography. Still covering Doris Day and the McGuire Sisters, they slip in some danceable yule tunes:  “Just a Lonely Christmas” and–it should be on everyone’s top twenty of happenin’ Santa songs–“Hey Santa Claus.” Dig THAT.

Country music generally recycles holiday standards tried and true from the previous decade (or century). But as we approach nascent RnR, and rockabilly is nearing the middle class, young and old are hearkening to Nashville’s original noises.

Korean War soldier Faron Young took over, when Eddie Fisher was discharged, as Army pop songster. His yodeling honky tonkin’ “You’re the Angel on My Christmas Tree” was recorded before his discharge a year later. Smooth and sultry.

Standing up for The Grand Ole Opry, Red Foley puts cowboy range (not quite a yodel up and down the octaves) with “Put Christ Back into Christmas.” Hey, it’s not just the 21st Century that disregards religious sanctity!

But, if you want to hear rock ‘n’ roll about to happen, check out Hank Snow with “The Reindeer Boogie.” The Yodeling Ranger clawed his way up to Nashville from Nova Scotia (steer clear of his horrific bio if you can) and has been credited with putting Elvis on that stage. Get your fast dancing shoes on.

Died. You’re Welcome: deer (3)

Overlooked Kentuckian folk singer Chuck Picklesimer has a killer Christmas album all lovers of novelty must seek out: Dead Ninja Christmas.

Words not do him right good. You gotta hear him to believe him. When you pair his word salad with this ADHD video cobbled together by his own talented hands, however, it’s Katie, bar the door!