Wednesday, January 03, 2018


If there's one thing Christmastime has no shortage of, it's novelty songs. Here's a little ditty from 1961 by the Hal Bradley Orchestra with Patty Marie Jay on vocals that's custom made for this blog, Space Age Santa Claus...

Don't let the song's goofiness fool you. Like most novelty pieces of that era, Space Age Santa Claus is actually put together with a little bit of skill. I mean, besides Lynyrd Skynyrd's Give Me Three Steps (of all things) and maybe Springsteen's Blinded by the Light, how many pop tunes can you name whose lyrics include sestains with an AABCCB rhyme scheme? Here's the first verse...

Santa Claus has a rocket sleigh
Getting ready to zoom away
On his first trip into space
In his pressurized suit with the fur along the border
And a long white bearded helmet made just to order
He’ll take the Christmas spirit every place

You know who also liked sestains, at least on occasion; the 17th century Anglican priest and poet George Herbert. His piece, Man's Medley, uses the form to explore the duel physical and spiritual nature of mankind's joys and sorrows. Being a man of the cloth, he obviously recommends those of the spirit, as the last two stanzas attest...

But as his joys are double, 
So is his trouble. 
He hath two winters, other things but one: 
Both frosts and thoughts do nip, 
And bite his lip; 
And he of all things fears two deaths alone. 

Yet ev'n the greatest griefs 
May be reliefs, 
Could he but take them right, and in their ways. 
Happy is he, whose heart 
Hath found the art 
To turn his double pains to double praise.

Yeah, it doesn't quite roll off the tongue like Skynyrd, or Space Age Santa Claus for that matter, but it's hard to argue with the conclusions.

No comments: