The ninth song of Christmas: Can’t polka hole in this one

If December’s weeknights belonged to Mom and Nanny and candlelight reverence, its Sunday afternoons belonged to Dad and goofy tunes by sunlight. That’s when we pulled a different set of albums from the stack, listening to big bands being a little more playful with their carols. Two standouts in my memory are The Ray Conniff Singers and Mitch Miller and the Gang.

Dad would pull out one of their old records, the ones that smelled like what I imagined the 1940s smelled like (it should be noted that none of their albums had been released prior to 1958, but what does an eight-year-old know?), and load it up in the turntable drawer of “the radio.” We’d listen to a side or two, then he’d wander down to the basement to tinker with his scientific equipment (which is a blog for another day), whereupon the kids would take over and load up albums from The Chipmunks and The Caroleers.

Whatever the case, Sunday’s songs were usually lighter, less somber, and less likely to make someone cry (unless we forced an adult to listen to them too many times). But it almost always started with Mitch or Ray, and even though I typically eschewed their songs, a few of them grew on me. One in particular was unique; I’d never heard it covered by anyone else. I’m pretty sure I still haven’t, although I once read that Bob Dylan recorded a raucous version of it.

I enjoyed the call-and-response structure of the song, as well as its musical style, which I thought of as polka because it had an accordion (at least, I think that’s what’s making that sound). At its heart, it’s a simple, repetitive song that might just drive a person crazy, but for its childlike charm. Plus, it makes me laugh.

There’s an amusing voice in the response portions — I think a woman’s, probably an alto. She sounds a little like a kid, or possibly an adult who’s just sucked in a good helping of helium. Over the years, I’ve imagined her as a tiny, older woman with hair resembling Debbie Downer‘s. Imagine my surprise the first time I saw one of those skits, and thought Rachel Dratch must be channeling the unknown alto from Mitch Miller’s “Gang.”

Give a listen to “Must Be Santa” and see if you picture Debbie singing, “Special night, beard that’s white…” The song’s call-and-response is allegedly based on a German drinking song. Good thing, because if it were to go on for much longer than it does, it might drive you to drink….


Lyrics:

Who’s got a beard that’s long and white?
Santa’s got a beard that’s long and white.
Who comes around on a special night?
Santa comes around on a special night.

Special night, beard that’s white…
Must be Santa, must be Santa,
Must be Santa, Santa Claus.

Who wears boots and a suit of red?
Santa wears boots and a suit of red.
Who wears a long cap on his head?
Santa wears a long cap on his head.

Cap on head, suit that’s red.
Special night, beard that’s white…
Must be Santa, must be Santa,
Must be Santa, Santa Claus.

Who’s got a big red cherry nose?
Santa’s got a big red cherry nose.
Who laughs this way, “Ho, ho, ho!”?
Santa laughs this way, “Ho, ho, ho!”

Ho, ho, ho, cherry nose,
Cap on head, suit that’s red,
Special night, beard that’s white…
Must be Santa, must be Santa,
Must be Santa, Santa Claus.

Who very soon will come our way?
Santa very soon will come our way.
Eight little reindeer pull his sleigh.
Santa’s little reindeer pull his sleigh.

Reindeer sleigh, come our way,
Ho, ho, ho, cherry nose,
Cap on head, suit that’s red,
Special night, beard that’s white…
Must be Santa, must be Santa,
Must be Santa, Santa Claus.

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen,
Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen.
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen,
Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen.

Reindeer sleigh, come our way,
Ho, ho, ho, cherry nose,
Cap on head, suit that’s red,
Special night, beard that’s white…
Must be Santa, must be Santa,
Must be Santa, Santa Claus.


Stocking stuffers:


Interlude 3:

And the children shall lead?

 

About Dan Bain

Dan is an award-winning humorist, features writer, emcee and entertainer from Raleigh, NC. His collection of humor essays, A Nay for Effort, has earned him fans from one end of his couch to the other. Why not join them and buy one? (You won't have to sit on his couch.) Dan will donate 10 percent of the book's proceeds to education. You can check it out at www.danbain.net; thanks!
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1 Response to The ninth song of Christmas: Can’t polka hole in this one

  1. Pingback: Interlude 3: And the children shall lead? | Bain Waves

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