Friday, November 24, 2006

Daddy's Drinking Up Our Christmas

"Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" gave Country Christmas novelty numbers a bad name. Here are two less-heard, but much better ones. "Daddy's Drinking Up Our Christmas" by Commander Cody could have been written by my son was it not for the fact that he is four and his father doesn't really drink much.

I have a real soft spot for George Jones novelty numbers. The story behind "My Mom and Santa Claus" is as follows: Jones was being pitched Christmas songs by a bunch of Nashville songwriters and wasn't too pleased with what he had heard so far. "Don't any of you have a twistin' Santa Claus song or something?" he asked. According to legend, Clyde Beavers ran out of the room and came back two hours later with this gem, before the pitch session was even over.

I imagine that story is about 80% accurate. This likely wasn't a tough song to write. Mix one part "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" with "The Race Is On" add a dash of "The Twist" and viola! A Holiday standard beloved by generations. Or maybe not, but in a sense the machine-like production pace and rationalized division of labor in 60s Nashville is part of its charm, and like Hollywood during the studio era it's great strength. Maybe not everything created by the system was great, but the percentage of great stuff was likely no lower than any other means of song production, and lots of reliable generic filler was created to fill out albums. And some of that filler, like this song, have a special charm all their own.

And is it just me, or are all these "I caught Mommy with Santa Claus" songs on some level about the trauma suffered by a child who walks in on the primal scene?

1 comment:

Howard Hendricks said...

Walking in on the "Primal" scene? If you mean what I think you mean, I never thought of it in that way. But thanks alot buddy-- now you've poisoned the well. I'll never be able to think of these novelty songs "innocently" again! Now, thanks to you, we can say there are two of us who think of it "that way". Payback time! One Christmas eve (after the kids were in bed, and me in the Santa suit) I told my wife that it was time for her to give 'Old Wrinkly' a big kiss-- and it wasn't my lips that was sticking out.

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How's that for a 'visual' inside your head?