Santa Claus is comin’ to town …

I just got back from my daughter’s school Christmas concert which was lovely. I was amazed though to find out that the perennial favourite Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (preferably the Springsteen version for me), has some introductory verses:

I just came back from a lovely trip along the Milky Way,
I stopped off at the North Pole to spend a holiday;
I called on dear old Santa Claus to see what I could see,
He took me to his workshop and told his plans to me.

Now Santa is a busy man, he has no time to play,
He’s got millions of stockings to fill on Christmas Day;
You’d better write your letter now and mail it right away,
Because he’s getting ready his reindeers and his sleigh ….

… and into the bit we all know. The verses are very sweet and jaunty when sung by kids, but musically, they were nowhere as good as the chorus.

This got me thinking – a dangerous thing – of the many other Christmas songs that have verses or intros that we never sing. The beginning of Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer is very useful for remembering the names of Santa’s reindeer:

You know Dasher, and Dancer, and Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid, and Donder and Blitzen;
But do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all ?…

But an amazing intro is the one that Irving Berlin originally wrote for White Christmas. It rather turns the song as we all know it, sung by Bing, on its head. Here the joke is on Hollywood. Apparently after Berlin heard Bing singing it, he ordered the verse to be taken out of future editions of the music – which it patently wasn’t because my Dad has a copy of the sheet music with this in:

The sun is shining, the grass is green,
The orange and palm trees sway,
There’s never been such a day,
In Beverley Hills, LA.
But it’s December the twenty-fourth,
And I’m longing to be up north…

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