Make Every Day Christmas

I was gonna do more about the 1966 Billboard Christmas chart in this post, but decided to look at 1967 instead. You don’t like it, get your own blog.

Like the 1966 charts, Billboard‘s 1967 “Best Bets for Christmas” charts fluctuate in size, ranging from 32 albums and six singles in the December 3 issue to 117 albums and 38 singles in the issue dated December 30. Unlike Billboard‘s regular charts, they don’t show earlier weeks’ positions or total weeks charted. Each entry contains catalog information for the album or single; nearly all of the albums show both mono and stereo versions, although an handful of entries specify “no stereo.”

The December 16, 1967, chart is missing at Google Books, but on each of the other four December charts available, Barbra Streisand’s A Christmas Album tops the album listings. Her version of “Silent Night,” officially titled “Sleep in Heavenly Peace,” had charted as a single the previous year. As we saw in 1966, several albums released in earlier years charted big among the top 10 again in 1967: Elvis, Dean Martin, Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, the Harry Simeone Chorale. Apart from Streisand, Jim Nabors’ Christmas Album is the hot new release of the Christmas season.

But let’s devote our attention to the singles charts this time. “Snoopy’s Christmas” by the Royal Guardsmen is at the top of all four charts; at the same time, it rose into the Top 10 on the regular chart in Cash Box, making it one of the biggest Christmas singles of all time. Lou Rawls’ new-in-67 version of “The Little Drummer Boy” sits high alongside the Harry Simeone original all month. It’s hard to find anything else that’s new on the singles charts until late December—the Rawls tune is the only new release to appear on either December 3 or December 10.

Later in  December, some new singles appear, and it becomes clear that the spoken word is going to be big this year. “Little Becky’s Christmas Wish” by Becky Lamb is a young girl’s letter to Santa about the death of her brother in Vietnam. There’s the equally sap-tastic “Happy Birthday Jesus” by Patti Page, and “Christmas Lullaby” by actor Cary Grant. Even James Brown gets into the act with new single from his 1966 Christmas album, “Let’s Make Christmas Mean Something This Year,” on which he exhorts his backup singers while providing spoken-word commentary and soul shoutin’. Also talkin’ and shoutin’: Joe Tex, with the terrific “I’ll Make Everyday Christmas (for My Woman).”

Fans of actual singing could gravitate to Roger Miller, who had scored a string of hits in the mid 1960s, and the charming “Old Toy Trains.” Female pop singers Claudine Longet, Lisa Miller, and Harvie Junevan each made the Christmas chart for the one-and-only time in 1967.

Among the songs recurring in 1967: Buck Owens’ country classic “Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy” and “Christmas Celebration” by B. B. King. But most of the top singles at Christmas 1967 were songs America had heard before: Charles Brown’s two standards, “Please Come Home for Christmas” and “Merry Christmas Baby,” “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” iconic singles by Crosby and Cole.

Forty-four Christmases later, that hasn’t changed.

6 responses

  1. That Patti Page holiday rap was first issued as a single in 1965. Columbia re-gifted it under the same catalog number over the next few years, dressed up in new picture sleeves. Which were more interesting than the record, itself.

    What with Patti and Cary and Becky and Harvie grabbing all the action in ’67, it’s no wonder the charts would’ve had no love for Blues Magoos’ “Jingle Bells.” Bummer.

  2. My weigh-in on “Little Becky’s Christmas Wish” can be read here. Imagine my delight a few weeks ago at learning of a sequel.

    Also on the subject of saptasticism, the Patti Page record was originally recorded by a waif simply known as Little Cindy. Her non-charting rendition (first issued in the 50s on an independent label, then picked up by Columbia) has been preserved for all mankind on A John Waters Christmas (2004).

    “Old Toy Trains” is another mandatory upload to the mp3 phone every Thanksgiving night. When people ask me what kind of country I like, Roger’s name always gets mentioned (right alongside Tom T. Hall).

  3. Patti must not have charted in 1965–Whitburn doesn’t show it, although he’s not infallible, and I haven’t looked at the actual 1965 charts. Also, a society embracing the likes of “Little Becky’s Christmas Wish” and “Happy Birthday Jesus” would have suffered serious injuries from the Blues Magoos.

    1. I forgot to mention my interest in laying ears on the Magoos cut…I’m envisioning something along the lines of “Deck Five” (intro’d to me by this very blog last year).

  4. Yep, Patti only charted in ’67, after having gone 0-2 in ’65 and ’66. But even Patti didn’t come close to cornering the sap-tastic market in ’65. That distinction belongs to………. well, allow me quote the blurb on the picture sleeve of yet another Columbia gem:

    “THE Christmas Record of 1965.” “There hasn’t been a record like ‘I Want A Baby Brother For Christmas’ since ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.’ It’s the big children’s record this season. The photo on the front of this sleeve tells the whole story. Carolyn Binkley is *four* years old and cute as a button. She has a great deal of Shirley Temple’s charm at the same age. Carolyn Binkley should totally capture the Christmas audience.”

    Boy, howdy, does that photo ever tell the whole story: Little Carolyn looks like she’s gotta go. REALLY bad. Talk about inflicting serious societal damage…

  5. Snoopy’s Christmas: home to the small town from the big college for Christmas break; went to a Christmas party with a bunch of high school classmates; acheived a very, very drunken state, and that song was on the host’s turntable….a 45 RPM pressing….and it played over, and over, and over, and over, with my fellow revelers singing along at the top of their lungs, and that’s why I can’t stand to listen to it any more. Other than that, JB, Merry Christmas.

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