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Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Be a Santa, Part 8

Only four more shopping days until Christmas and we've got lots of ground to cover before we complete our look at the tracks on this year's mix. (Got a lot of holiday shopping left to do, too, but that's a whole 'nother Oprah show.) Let's get at it!

Track 27
Holiday Greetings from Harvey Fierstein (1997)


I'm afraid I'm running out of these short celebrity greetings that I like to use to break up the musical numbers. You'd think there would be lots of them out there, but most of the clips you can find on YouTube or elsewhere have too much background noise or fail to identify the celebrity by name. You may know who Simu Liu is on sight, but without video a clip of him saying only "Happy Holidays" doesn't identify him sufficiently for listeners of an audio mix.

One of my few remaining greetings clips is this one from actor, playwright and screenwriter Harvey Fierstein, who has to have one of the most distinctive voices in show business. Actually, a tape of him saying "happy holidays" without identifying himself probably would work out OK. At least folks would know who was sending along best wishes.

The few words at the end of this clip weren't something Harvey really said. I just added them to be funny.

Track 26
Santa's Coffee, Billy Beau (1960)

I've written before about my prejudice against songs that are heavily produced to make the performer sound extra cute and adorable — especially where adults are masquerading as little children. The prime example of this practice is "Little" Marcy Tigner, who's already received more attention than she deserves in these pages. (See HERE and HERE, if you must.) "Santa's Coffee," isn't anything like that. Sure, it's sung by what sounds to be a young boy, but it doesn't overplay the cute angle and therefore comes across as — well, cute. 
Billy Burnette

The artist is credited as Billy Beau, but his real name is Billy Burnette, who went on to have a pretty successful career in pop music. His father, Dorsey Burnette, and his uncle, Johnny Burnette, were two-thirds of the '50s group The Rock and Roll Trio and both worked closely with recording star Ricky Nelson. In 1960, 7-year-old Billy recorded a novelty song with Nelson called "Hey Daddy (I'm Going to Tell Santa Claus on You)." Several other holiday tunes were recorded in that same session including this one, which was release by Billy as a solo artist.

Billy's family connections helped him to get other gigs as the years went on, including touring work with Brenda Lee, Roger Miller and others, and by the early 1970s he released his first solo album. Burnette later scored contracts with Polydor and Columbia, scored a couple of country hits and had written songs for Greg Allman, Tanya Tucker and Ringo Starr. Following Lindsey Buckingham's 1987 departure from the band, Burnette was asked by Mick Fleetwood to join Fleetwood Mac.


Track 25
Holiday-ish, The Regrettes (featuring Dylan Minnette (2019)

 

The Regrettes are a Los Angeles-based punk band that signed with Warner Records shortly after forming in 2015. Known for their brash and unapologetic style, they opened for twenty-one pilots for part of their 2019 Bandito tour. "Holiday-ish" features guest vocalist Dylan Minnette of the rock band Wallows. Minnette is also known for his starring role in the controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, a mystery series that revolves around the suicide of a suburban high school student.

Although it's typically described as a punk holiday song, "Holiday-ish" sounds a little too tame to me to merit that description. But then again I was raised on the music of the 1970s, when punk was punk. Kids today — well, you know ...




Track 25
Samantha's Holiday Spell, Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens (1969)

This one's a clip from Bewitched, the ABC fantasy sitcom series starring Elizabeth Montgomery. The show ran from 1964 through 1972 and told the story of a witch in human form who lived a relatively normal mid-century suburban life wither her mortal husband, Darrin (played first by Dick York and subsequently by Dick Sargent). A long description of the show is beyond the scope of this blog, but it was exceptionally popular during its eight-year run and remains widely watched in syndication. From what I've read, Elizabeth Montgomery was a thoroughly wonderful woman who donated generous amounts of time, money and energy to a range of progressive causes. She also advocated for Bewitched to address a variety of important social issues, including the holiday episode "Sisters at Heart," in which young Tabitha Stephens invites a young African -American classmate to spend Christmas with the Stephens. It may not sound so big these days, but in the 1960s, this was a notable storyline indeed!





Just ten more tracks to cover and four days left until Christmas. With a little luck we should get this done before Santa arrives!

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