A Tear In Your Holiday Beer





:: Is There Really A Santa Claus ::

:: Christmas Love Song ::

Christmas and sad-sack country music goes together like bourbon and eggnog— it’s often sickly sweet going down, sticks with you and, if done right, packs a punch. And the king of Country Christmas Tear-Jerkers is none other than the late, great Red Sovine, who isn’t afraid to dredge up every hoary cliché to provoke a reaction. “Faith In Santa” deals with a runaway scamp and a department-store Santa. “Here It Is, Christmas” features a hard-boozing divorced dad having problems wrapping presents because he’s been “wrassling with this flat martini.” Sovine even gives us a blind girl who has her father tell her about the holiday that remains out of her reach in “What Does Christmas Look Like?”



Sovine, best known for the infamous trucker anthem “Teddy Bear,” was known as the “King Of Narrations” because he rarely sung anything— nearly all of his songs are him reciting stories with a country drawl over a simple arrangement. Born in West Virginia, Sovine, born Woodrow Wilson Sovine in 1917, got his start in local radio before moving to Shreveport, Louisiana, where he gained fame on the radio program “Louisiana Hayride.” He cut a number of singles shortly thereafter, but remained under the radar until he teamed up with country great Webb Pierce on a cover of George Jones’ “Why Baby Why” in 1955. He joined the Grand Ole Opry, but it wasn’t until he helped launch the career of Charley Pride in the early ‘60’s that his own career took off, with “Giddy-Up Go,” the first of his many trucker songs, which included “Phantom 309,” “Little Joe,” “Truck-Driving Son-Of-A-Gun” and “Teddy Bear,” which hit number one on the country charts in 1976. Sovine kept crankin’ out the trucker songs until his death in 1980, when he had a massive heart attack while behind the wheel of a van (not an eighteen-wheeler).


While “Christmas Love Song” is atypical for Red Sovine in that he actually sings (and is more heartfelt than manipulative), “Is There Really A Santa Claus” is classic Sovine. It’s bad enough that the kids in the song are left motherless on Christmas Eve or that their father is despondent enough (according to Red, he’s “couldn’t find the will to try”) to tell the little boy and girl that they’re full of “nonsense” for hoping Santa brings them a fire truck, a blonde-haired dolly and “stockings filled with apples and such” on Christmas morn. But Sovine takes it one full step further by having their father, who realizes that he’s been a heel, get struck by a car and killed as he runs to the store. The kids are orphaned, but when they wake up the next morning, thoughts of an adolescence doomed to be spent in foster homes and workhouses don’t seem to matter— their presents are under the tree! “Doesn’t this make you wonder: is there REALLY a Santa Claus?” Red asks earnestly. Christmas never seemed so bleak.


Mark
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Friday, December 22, 2006 3:44:00 PM

Great stuff! The voice - and the theme from "Is there really a Santa Claus?" - really remind me of a song about a drunken driver who hits his two children while driving. Their mother's just died and they're talking about their father as they get hit. Know which one I'm talking about? And impossible question I know, still this tune is one of many wretched tunes that over the years simply won't let go. So sounds like the same guy!

And yup, I'll need a stiff drink to get over this smashing post. So thanks of sorts ;)    



Friday, December 22, 2006 10:20:00 PM

Wow, I listened to Country for 5 years back in the 70's and so I got to hear Teddy Bear and a few of the other's. I remember listening to the radio one day and they were playing songs by artists who had passed away and they played one of his songs and was shocked to find out he had passed away that day.    



Sunday, December 24, 2006 8:13:00 PM

"Is there really a Santa Claus?" is THE most bathetic song ever written. WORST Christmas song lyrics ever! Yet, like a scab, it gets my attention.

Max the drunken severed head    



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