Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer is a chestnut lodged deeply in my brain. We sang it plenty as kids, inserting irreverent lyrics (as of late, I suppose Rudolf has fared better than Columbus... historically). The renditions by Burl Ives and Gene Autry* are lovely. But it's silly and ridiculously slow. It's no work of art. It wouldn't even make a terribly compelling School House Rock. It's certainly not Carol of the Bells or Little Drummer Boy or The Kink's Father Christmas or Robert Earl Keen's Merry Christmas from the Family...
Jesus, that's lovely.
Where was I? Rudolf. Over the years, I've become quite fond of one version since it's a fine example of how Phil Spector (combined with the right set of women and musicians) can turn anything into a driving song. Listen to that opening. Listen to the bombastic drums. This is the sound that kept Brian Wilson in bed. And it's just... Rudolf, the Red Nosed Reindeer.
*Speaking of... Autry's cowboy code of conduct is dated and, as Billy Childish & Cormac McCarthy would be quick to point out, isn't necessarily reflective of real cowboys... but the recommendations remain mostly applicable: The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage. He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him. He must always tell the truth. He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas. He must help people in distress. He must be a good worker. He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits. He must respect women, parents, and his nation's laws. The Cowboy is a patriot.