Many Christmas songs have been covered over and over through the years. “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” has had lots of versions. There is a particular version of the classic that must surely rank as one of the quirkiest Christmas songs you’ll hear. Once you’ve heard it, you’ll likely not be able to resist adding it to your seasonal playlist.
The song was a hit way back in 1934 when Eddie Cantor covered it on his radio show. Over 200 artists have covered it since then. That extensive list ranges from Bing Crosby to Bruce Springsteen and also includes the likes of Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, and the Jackson 5.
Which brings us to the quirky version you may not have heard as much of. It’s by the less well-known Bahamian guitarist and singer Joseph Spence. He has a very distinctive vocal and humming style not to mention unique guitar playing and tuning. The sleeve notes to his 1980 album, Living On The Hallelujah Trail, on which the song appears, explain further.
"Spence plays hymns, dance tunes and old pop songs with wild, syncopated rhythms and a unique but sophisticated concept of harmony, while he growls out the words for nothing else if reference."- Scott Billington
Spence’s quirky Christmas song
If you’ve heard the song before you’ll know what that style sounds like. If you haven’t, then do listen to the live recording of the tune below. It’s a pretty unique version.
Spence certainly delivered the classic Christmas song very much in his own style. Although it was recorded at a Boston Blues concert in Cambridge, Massachusetts in November 1972, this live rendition didn’t make it to vinyl until that 1980 album. It’s quirky, and cheerful and definitely adds some sunshine to the seasonal playlists.
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