The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

The 12 Discs of Christmas 2008 #9

Stan Rogers-Here's to You Santa Claus
Stan Rogers-Coventry Carol
(RCA single 57-1056; 1970)

This is probably the rarest Christmas record I own, which I only say because I've never come across another copy. I could also say the same thing of my Christmas LP by the NFL's New York Giants called Holiday Halftime, but in the case of this single it's something people might actually want to hear.

The late Stan Rogers is akin to a songwriting god in Canadian folk music, acclaimed for passionate ballads of seafarers and rural life sung in a hardy baritone. While for most listeners his career begins with the 1976 album Fogarty's Cove, he had previously been signed to RCA Records in Canada, producing a handful of singles which he later disowned as mere novelty songs (another was 1971's Fat Girl Rag). It's also amusing to see his songwriting credit listed as "Stanley Rogers" as I've never heard anyone refer to him by his proper name in all the years I've been aware of his work (including his brother Garnet, a fine musician and songwriter as well, and his parents, who lived here in Nova Scotia).

There are even stories of Rogers attempting to track down all commercially available copies of these singles and destroying them, which might explain why I've never come across a copy for sale; this one is from the stash of an old AM radio station that was cleaning house (as are a great deal of my Christmas singles).

But I have a great deal of fondness for Here's to You Santa Claus, a satiric carol aimed at the marketing of war toys for kids at the height of the Vietnam War. It's certainly a far cry from Sgt. Barry Sadler's I Won't Be Coming Home This Christmas. As a bonus, I'm throwing in the b-side, a rendition of Coventry Carol that really sounds like the late '60s/early '70s.


Mark said...

That's amazing! The lyrics early in "Here's to you..." give no hint at the impending carnage! Thanks for this amazing find.

Djiril said...

Wow... It certainly doesn't sound like his later work. Reading the lyrics in the biography I wasn't too impressed, but hearing him sing it it's kind of brilliant. Almost like a Cold War era Stephen Colbert.