I was talking with some friends recently about some of the truly weird holiday songs out there and one of them said that all the songs we’d mentioned were “not as weird as the song where a kid dies on Santa’s lap at the end” (!!!!!)
He was referring to the Red Sovine track “Faith In Santa,” aka “Billy’s Christmas Wish,” in which a seven year old wanders off from his no-account drunken wastrel of a stepfather (Mom is always at work, you see) and stumbles through the snow to find Santa. Somehow Kris Kringle, who sees us when we’re sleeping and knows when we’re awake, is like “and who are you exactly?” but Billy is pure of word and deed so Santa promises him anything he wants for this Christmas. His troubles are so great that he has only one request. “Could I just ride up to Jesus’ house, sir?” the child asks. “If it’s not too awful far.” And just like that, he’s gone. Oh my sweet lord.
Red Sovine, you see, was the king of tearjerker tragedy story songs. One of his biggest hits was “Phantom 309,” in which a hitchhiker accepts a ride from a trucker who, it turns out later, was actually the ghost of a man who had wrecked his own ride to save the lives of a schoolbus full of kids ten years before. It’s basically the Large Marge story from “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” in song form.
I decided not to post “Faith In Santa,” because that song is so bleak it should only be heard in two to three second increments by trained professionals wearing safety gear. Instead, here’s “Is There Really A Santa Claus?” in which another poor dope of a dad browbeats his motherless children because they believe in Santa, realizes what a jerk he’s being when they pray for him anyway, goes out to get them the presents they want most in the world and BAM he’s hit by a speeding car and now the kids are orphans… who somehow get their presents anyway! “Doesn’t this make you wonder,” old Red opines, “is there really a Santa Claus?”
Randy Fox called this “the King Daddy of whack-a-doodle Christmas records.” Which is fair.