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Advent calendar: December 18—James Brown, “Santa Claus Is Definitely Here to Stay”

James Brown, “Santa Claus Is Definitely Here to Stay” (1970)
King 45-6340

With that title, you’d think this would be an upbeat song, but no: James lets himself, the song, and his audience off the hook for any forced cheer when he sings in the second line, “Santa Claus is definitely here to stay—in the mind.” That’s a big loophole, one that’s necessary for a song whose true refrain is a more resigned than pessimistic “Ain’t no use … ain’t no use.”

I don’t know how long Brown used the little “Sound of Success” logo on his records, but if this downbeat number is any indication, I doubt it lasted through 1971.

And then there are the morsels of Brownian wisdom that passeth mortal understanding: “Just put one in other hand and grab the other one and go on your driving trip.” Indeed, I think I will.

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