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Nobody does it like Joseph Spence. Nobody.
December 25, 2010 5:34 AM   Subscribe

This is surely, without question, the best interpretation of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" ever recorded. The best. Merry Christmas!
posted by flapjax at midnite (24 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Joseph Spence at Wikipedia and at Smithsonian Folkways.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:37 AM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was ready to go all Medieval Christmas on you if it wasn't Bruce, but that was too cool. Thank you for introducing me to something I had no idea existed, that was wonderful. That's what Christmas is all about.
posted by Mcable at 5:47 AM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Heh wah me mow gow doh mrr mrr great hmmmmm do dit do doh post!
posted by msconduct at 5:54 AM on December 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


Wow. This guy is really good. Somehow I've completely missed him. What a wonderful find. Thanks.
posted by rain at 6:40 AM on December 25, 2010


I'll have what he's having!
posted by ericb at 7:08 AM on December 25, 2010


Wrong.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:09 AM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Boss!
posted by ericb at 7:15 AM on December 25, 2010


It kind of reminds me of the soundtrack to the The Neverhood.

Nice Christmas post flapjax!
posted by djeo at 7:39 AM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks, white skull- I didn't realize that listening to YouTube clips on my cheap Dell speakers would duplicate the historic Wall of Sound experience.
posted by acrasis at 7:52 AM on December 25, 2010


WXRT in Chicago played this last year and I was amused that they had the music savy to play a unique version of Santa Claus that wasn't heard on mainstream radio.
posted by wheelieman at 7:53 AM on December 25, 2010


It needs a Terry Gilliam animation to really gel.
posted by dry white toast at 7:54 AM on December 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


It should be mentioned that if the words to this song are not clearly pronounced, the message gets missed and then you have a year of bad behavior from children who did not get the proper warning.
posted by longsleeves at 8:05 AM on December 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


He's just singing it in the club style.
posted by pracowity at 10:33 AM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


(OK, I just torrented an album of this guy out of curiosity and it's all like that, so if you liked "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" you ought to get the rest of his stuff. I'm liking it.)
posted by pracowity at 10:40 AM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Joseph Spence was very popular in his community, so it is said, and they were fiercely protective of him. If anyone turned up asking after him who didn't seem worthy - officials in general, tax and police most definitely in particular - then nobody would even admit knowing him, let alone where he might be found. He lived his life entirely untouched by officialdom.

Which is a life to be envied.
posted by Devonian at 10:52 AM on December 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Unique one, flapjax. Another wild version is jazz pianist Bill Evans attempting to SING this tune in his nasal NJ accent. Hilarity ensues...
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 10:53 AM on December 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Unique one, flapjax. Another wild version is jazz pianist Bill Evans attempting to SING this tune in his nasal NJ accent. Hilarity ensues yt ...

. . . WITH A BEARD ON!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:43 PM on December 25, 2010


Joseph Spence FTW! I love this guy. And everything I've ever heard by him is like this at least in the sense that he barely even pretends to know the words to the songs he sings. But man, the guitar playing- I think of him as sort of a muppet Capt. Beefheart, in a way... muppet for the voice, and Beefheart for the pure strangeness of the arrangements.

If you liked this, you should also check out Sloop John B, which I think is where the Beach Boys got it from. (I'm sure flapjax will correct me if I'm wrong, but I'll probably choose to believe it anyway).

Aargh- the web apparently doesn't have a copy of "I Bid You Goodnight" - one of Spence and the Pinder Family's finest moments. It's well worth seeking out though of course. Yep, he was one of a kind.
posted by hap_hazard at 1:07 PM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


agree. BIG agree.
posted by zaelic at 2:08 PM on December 25, 2010


This is awesome, yes. But part of me notices that part of why I think it is, indeed, the best version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" because you can't understand a word the guy says.

AM I CRANKY HAVING HEARD EVERY POSSIBLE PERMUTATION OF $CHRISTMASSONG TWELVE CRAPTILLION TIMES THIS YEAR? ITS POSSIBLE
posted by JHarris at 5:14 PM on December 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


if he would take that cigar out of his mouth when he sings, i could understand his words then.
posted by tustinrick at 5:48 PM on December 25, 2010


I heard this on NPR around 12 years ago and was never able to find it again. Thanks!
posted by dhens at 6:42 PM on December 25, 2010


Wow, what a treasure, thanks flapjax! In quite a few of his songs it sounds like his vocalizations are like an overflow valve opening up, as if he couldn't fit any more onto his guitar but had to express it anyway. My ears are kinda untrained but I can still hear maybe 3 or 4 different roots or origins being expressed at any given moment. The wiki mentions calypso and blues, but man, there's a lot more going on too! So awesome.

(flapjax, some of these remind me of you with your stompbox.)
posted by snsranch at 4:32 PM on December 26, 2010


One of my favorite cuts from one of my favorite Xmas albums: Mas! A Caribbean Christmas Party (Rykodisc, 1992). Thanks, flapjax.
posted by kgander at 12:06 PM on December 27, 2010


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