won't pretend to be able to justify the existence of this list outside the
claustrophobic world of record collecting. Christmas records about famous
people are long a thing of the past (the latest example I've listed is
from 1979), and only two artists - Elvis Presley and The Beatles - were ever the object
of appreciable numbers of these weird platters. And, while it's easy to picture
teenage fans listening to these records and dreaming Christmas dreams (or
fantasizing masturbatory fantasies), the question as to whether that constituted
unhealthy obsession or healthy displacement is open to debate. You be the
judge, but I maintain that these records tell us as much about the nascent
rock 'n' roll record industry as they did about teenaged America.
Most early rock stars were just like other recording artists - fame hungry
hopefuls willing to do almost anything for a shot at the spotlight. For every
Elvis, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee, we were subjected to dozens of half-rate,
dim-witted greaseballs ready and able to sing calculated tripe fed to them
by the recording industry establishment - a cynical bunch of old men desperately
trying to figure out this crazy new beat. To them, it followed that if kids
loved Elvis, they'd love Christmas paeans to Elvis, too.
Lucky for us, they were - for the most part - wrong. None of these records
were big hits, so there are relatively few of them. Of course, it didn't help
matters that most of them are irredeemably bad - though charmingly so. As inferred
above, these songs weren't so much teenage fantasies as old men's conceptions
of teenage fantasies - the same phenomenon that spawned many of Elvis' horrible
movies, not to mention the Monkees and the Knack, each of which, admittedly,
hold certain pleasures.
(Fair to note that I don't actually own most of these
records. They are rarely collected on various artist discs, and I've been
unwilling to pay the absorbent amounts the original 45's usually fetch. Hence,
I have not indulged below in extensive annotation.)
Anyway, kids these days seem way too sophisticated to be taken in by this
sort of obvious exploitation - imagine "Christmas Party With Linkin Park" or "Santa,
Leave Eminem Under My Tree." So, though relegated to the past and largely
forgotten, it's fun to listen to these "stalker" records and imagine
a Christmas when any of us - starry-eyed adolescents or conniving entertainment
executives - could have ever been so innocent. Know of a good Christmas record
to stalk by? Drop me a line...
The Elvis Christmas songs divide rather neatly
into two categories - those written to exploit his initial burst of fame in 1956, and those written to exploit his tragic, tawdry death in 1977. Most that fall into the latter category can be found on To Elvis With Love (1995), and just about all of them can be found on one of the volumes in the marathon (and unauthorized) Elvis Mania series.
- The Bluest Christmas Ever by Chris Marshon (Phono, 1977)
"Elvis, God's Ready For A Song"...
- A Christmas Tribute by Bob Luman (Polydor, 1977)
Without naming names, former rockabilly and then-current country star Luman mourns the passing of both Elvis and Bing Crosby, who also died that fateful year. Also see "Goodbye Bing" (below), which stirs Guy Lombardo into the soup. Apparently, 1977 was a dangerous year to be a holiday icon....
- Elvis For Christmas by Mad Milo (Million,
A break-in record similar to Buchanan & Goodman's "Santa & The Satellite." As these things go, it's pretty bad. I love it.
- Elvis, Xmas Won't Be Xmas Without You by Paul White (Country Jubilee, 1977)
Widely reported as "Elvis, Christmas Won't Be The Same Without You," which is incorrect.
- Goodbye Bing, Elvis & Guy by Diana Williams (Little Gem, 1977)
In a letter to Santa, this singer laments the King's recent passing, as well as that of Bing Crosby and Guy Lombardo. Strange bedfellows.
- I Wanna Spend Christmas With Elvis by Marlene Paul (Regent,
- I Wanna Spend Xmas With Elvis by Little "Lambsie" Penn (Atco, 1956)
- I Want Elvis For Christmas by the Holly Twins (Liberty,
- I Want To Spend Christmas With Elvis by Debbie Dabney (Savoy,
It took me over 30 years to figure out that the four records listed above were all the same composition (the title is spelled four different ways...), and they represent just three recordings, because the Debbie Dabney record is simply a reissue of the Marlena Paul record (make no mistake - they are the exact same recording). No matter how you spell it, the song was written by future legends Don Kirshner and Bobby
Darin. Even better, the Paul/Dabney version features jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell (see Christmas Blues), and the Holly Twins' version
features none other than Eddie Cochran both playing guitar and impersonating Elvis in between verses (see Legends of Christmas Past).
- (It's A Sad, Sad Time For Me) Elvis Won't Be Here For Xmas by Linda Hughes (Great Northwest, 1977)
- It's Another Joyful Elvis Presley Christmas by The Serious Brothers (Tune Town, 1988)
- A Lonely Christmas Without Elvis Presley by Buzz Jefferson (Monopole, 1977)
- Merry Christmas, Elvis by Michele Cody (Safari,
- Merry Christmas, Elvis by Paul White (Spin Check,
I have yet to figure out if the above two songs are the same composition, but it sure seems likely....
- (Merry Christmas) From Lisa Marie by Jana Sampson (Rock-It, 1979)
Ace Records compiled a truly wonderful album of songs about the Beatles, Beatlemaniacs!!! The World of Beatles Novelty Records (2006). Sadly, none of these records are on it, and few have ever been (legally) reissued in any shape or form.
- All I Want For Christmas Is A Beatle by Dora Bryan (Fontana,
Note that this record (sung with a heavy English accent) was released before the Beatles hit it big
- Bring Me A Beatle for Christmas by Cindy Rella (Drum Boy, 1964)
- Christmas With The Beatles by Judy & The Duets (Ware, 1964)
- I Want A Beatle For Christmas by The Fans (Dot, 1964)
- I Want A Beatle For Christmas by Becky Lee Beck (Challenge, 1964)
- I Want A Beatle For Christmas by Jackie & Jill (USA, 1964)
- (I Want) A Beatle For Christmas by Patty Surbey & the Canadian VIP's (Aragon, 1964)
No less than four records called "I Want A Beatle For Christmas" were released during 1964 - the banner year of Beatlemania. Unlikely as it seems, all four are indeed different songs. The real winner of the bunch is the Patty Surbey platter which features what Vancouver Sun writer John Mackie called "one of the greatest female yelps ever committed to vinyl."
- Ringo Bells by Three Blonde Mice (Atco, 1964)
- Santa Bring Me Ringo by Christine Hunter (Roulette, 1964)
Special Bonus Obsession: Eddie Fisher
Not even sure if this counts. On "I Want Eddie Fisher For Christmas" (RCA,
1954), musical raconteur Spike Jones was hardly preoccupied with the pre-rock
teen idol. He was, in fact, making fun of the mind set (first seen with fans
of Frank Sinatra and Johnny Ray) that would soon lead to the sort of buffoonery
listed above. But, it's about a celebrity, so there you go! Also recorded
- probably without irony - by Betty Johnson for New Disc Records the same
What You Really, Really Want: The Spice Girls
After we published this article, reader Derek Miner hipped us to "All I Want For Christmas Is A Spice Girl," a song written by Paul Griggs, a British musician who achieved consistent, if limited success thoughout the 60's and 70's, most notably with Octopus (whose members included future Rolling Stone Mick Taylor) and Guys 'n' Dolls (who racked up five UK hits including the #2 smash, "There's A Whole Lot Of Loving").
On his website, Griggs recalls that he wrote his ode to the Spice Girls... "much to the embarassment of my family. My own version was released on a Christmas album, and when (fellow former Guys 'n' Dolls member) Julie Forsyth heard it - after falling about laughing - she took it to Holland where it was recorded by Dutch artist Peter Koelewijn under the name of Gompie." Koelewijn had already scored a major UK hit under that name in 1995 with "Alice, Who the X is Alice," a parody of the 1975 Smokie hit, "Living Next Door To Alice."
Griggs claims he wrote the song in 1998, but a number of online sources date the Gompie version to 1997 - which seems more likely considering that "Girl Power" had waned substantially by 1998. Regardless, "All I Want For Christmas is a Spice Girl" is a surprisingly normal record - a jangly, country-rock sing-a-long - and not half a silly as it ought to be. Both recordings are rare in the extreme, but Griggs' version shows up on European holiday compilations with some regularity.
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