Santa Claus is Comin' to Town - Bruce Springsteen
Of course, no one could possibly better any of the tracks on Phil Spector's Christmas album, so the best way to tackle them is to do something different with them.
Although "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" was written in 1934, and was covered by just about everybody from Peter, Paul and Mary to Tom, Dick and Harry, it is the version by the Crystals off the aforementioned "Christmas" album that is the template for all that followed. Springsteen hid it away on the "B" side of his single "My Hometown" and onstage introduces it in a typically urban homespun way, we're back home - his home - on the Jersey Shore:
"It's all cold down along the beach,
the wind's whippin' down the boardwalk," (I love the cosy way he says "whippin' down the boardwalk" ....we're all tucked in bed, sleepy and excited...)
and there's chuckling and ho-ho-hoing and sleighbells and you can almost hear the snow falling, and he asks
"hey band, you guys know what time of year it is?"
and then treads lightly along with the song like Santa dragging his sack along the landing and it slowly builds and builds until:
"You better be good for goodness sake!"
when the roof takes off and then he's off on a glorious sleight ride with the "E Street Band". The secret of this version of the song is Springsteen's natural good nature which, along with the infectious fun of his musical E Street elves, shines through with every note.
Christmas doesn't get much better than this - it puts a smile on your face every time.