Christmas Nuggets Found in Classic Christmas Tunes Have you ever stopped to listen to the lyrics of your favorite classic Christmas tunes? You might be surprised by what's there if you take the time to listen carefully.
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Christmas Nuggets Found in Classic Christmas Tunes

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Christmas Nuggets Found in Classic Christmas Tunes

Christmas Nuggets Found in Classic Christmas Tunes

Christmas Nuggets Found in Classic Christmas Tunes

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/6664218/6664219" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Have you ever stopped to listen to the lyrics of your favorite classic Christmas tunes? You might be surprised by what's there if you take the time to listen carefully.

TONY COX, host:

Holiday music, it isn't just in our culture. It's in our DNA. The carols and singalongs we dust off every December are as important to the season as stockings and mistletoe. But producer Cory Turner wonders what does our holiday music really say about us.

CORY TURNER: I was driving the other night listening to one of my many, many, many Christmas albums when the velvet voice Eartha Kitt got me thinking. What if something happened to us humans and all that was left to make a good impression on future civilizations was a time capsule of holiday tunes? What might an advance race of pod people think of us, and our beloved Santa Claus?

(Soundbite of music)

Let's say for the sake of argument, our time capsule has half-a-dozen records in it. I'll start with the newest, “Christmas in Hollis” by godfathers of rap, Run DMC. This song is pure candy for years but listen up here, like all of my holiday favorites, this tune shows a slightly twisted Santa.

(Soundbite of music)

RUN DMC (Musical Group): (Singing) It was December 24th on Hollis Ave after dark. When I see a man chilling with his dog in the park. I approached very slowly with my heart full of fear. Looked at his dog, oh my God, an illin' reindeer.

TURNER: That's right. In Hollis, Santa Claus looks like a crazy old man sitting in the park with his dog. Okay, so it's not so strange I mean maybe a two on the meter. Still, it's no way to treat the secular beating heart of the holiday season. And I'm just getting warmed up. Imagine you're one of those pod people from the future and the second record in that time capsule belongs to Louis Armstrong and The Commanders. Our beloved Santa Claus is starting to look like downright Santa, creepy.

(Soundbite of song, “Zat You Santa Claus?”)

LOUIS ARMSTRONG and THE COMMANDERS (Group Band): (Singing) ‘Zat you, Santa Claus? Sure is dark out. Ain't the slightest spark out. Pardon my clackin' jaws. Uh, who there. Who is it? Uh, stoppin' for a visit. ‘Zat you, Santa Claus?

TURNER: Dark out, clackin' jaws. I thought Santa was supposed to be jolly and nice and, you know, bring everybody presents and stuff? Let's see what the incomparable Eartha Kitt has to say about the man in red.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. EARTHA KITT (Musician): (Singing) Santa baby, just slip a sable under the tree, for me. Been an awful good girl. Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

TURNER: Now, that's more like it. I'm not sure I'd want a sable under my tree, unless it's got four wheels but the tempo is jolly and this Santa is sliding down chimneys where he should be not prowling outside like a werewolf.

(Soundbite of song, “Santa Baby”)

Ms. KITT: (Singing) Come and trim my Christmas tree. With some decorations bought at Tiffany. I really do believe in you. Let's see if you believe in me.

TURNER: I believe in you, Eartha. There's only one problem, I'm sure our pod people friends would appreciate the charms of a good woman. Unfortunately, Santa Claus is married, isn't he?

(Soundbite of song, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”)

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus.

TURNER: So what if Santa has an active private life. As long as it's not my mommy and he still delivers presents. I don't care.

(Soundbite of song, “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus”)

Ms. PATTI PAGE (Musician): (Singing) Well look at here Jack jumpin down the track. He's got a rhythm and his feet but nothing in his sack.

TURNER: Stop wait, whoa. Did she say nothing in his sack? It's probably because he gave all the toys away already I mean not because he was out dancing with Eartha Kitt or my mother, right?

(Soundbite of song, “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus”)

Ms. PAGE: (Singing) He's he boogie woogie Santa Claus. Boogie woogie Santa Claus. The Boogie woogie Santa. Santa comes this time every Christmas day.

TURNER: Why be embarrass? I admit it. Santa Claus is equal parts creepy, sneaky, cuddly and wild, just like us. I guess that makes him the right guy for our time capsule after all. So what if the pod people think we're crazy. It's their lost. And Santa, if you're listening, I've been really good this year. How about a new car?

Ms. PAGE: (Singing) Rock, rock, rock, Mr. Santa. Jump, jump, jump, Mr. Santa. The boogie woogie Santa will boogie all your blues away.

COX: That was Patti Page in “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus.” Before her, Jimmy Boyd, Eartha Kitt, Louis Armstrong and Run DMC. Cory Turner is a producer for NEWS & NOTES. I don't know Cory may be getting coal this year.

(Soundbite of music)

And here's my favorite Christmas song that I want to share with all of you this holiday season. It's by Charles Brown, “Merry Christmas, Baby.”

(Soundbite of song, “Merry Christmas, Baby”)

Mr. CHARLES BROWN (Musician): (Singing) Merry Christmas baby, you sure did treat me nice. Merry Christmas baby, you sure did treat me nice.

COX: That's NEWS & NOTES. Farai Chideya returns on Monday.

Visit us at NPR.org. NEWS & NOTES was created by NPR News and the African-American Public Radio Consortium.

(Soundbite of music)

COX: I'm Tony Cox. This is NEWS & NOTES. Have a happy holiday.

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