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DECCA 48185; NOVEMBER 1950



Though his career lasted only around seven years, considering the number of records Cecil Gant cut during that time for countless labels it’s rather surprising he took so long to record some Christmas material.

That he’d never enjoy another Christmas after 1950 was sadly ironic of course, but with this he somehow manages the tricky feat of combining sadness with optimism, making it a song that fit in with the holiday standards that had dominated the previous decade yet because of who recorded it there’s still more than a fair share of odd twists and turns along the way.


Just Like I Always Do
You wouldn’t think that Cecil Gant of all people would turn out to be Decca Records’s most valuable rock performer as 1950 wound down.

This is a guy who cut sides for every record label under the sun, taking their (admittedly short end) money for a session and then showing up without any material and simply improvising on the studio floor until something came to him and the company had to make do with whatever they managed to get.

But so far his stint at Decca has resulted in some more polished songs with even more still to come.

Hello Santa Claus is one of those, a record that has some different – and conflicting – elements to it… part blues, folksy lament, country and rock ‘n’ roll, in addition to its dual outlook of misery and hope.

It may not all add up to something sensible on paper, yet somehow it all gets pulled together and shows that, at Christmas time anyway, there’s bound to be some presents here for everyone.


Merry Christmas Everybody
The shifting musical atmosphere of this record is really rather surprising, particularly the guitar which sounds as if it’s being played by three people from three different musical genres over the course of the song, yet without any schism taking place between them as it goes along.

Hello Santa Claus starts out with a rock-like figure behind Gant’s clear piano intro, its lines ringing in a way that has already – and will be in the future – one of rock guitar’s most distinctive traits.

But it doesn’t last long, because the electric guitar starts to play a slower line – backed by a crude acoustic guitar – that veers into blues territory. This might just be the downcast mood it takes on – or the way that acoustic supplementing it hits your musical consciousness, but if it stopped there it might make things easier to reconcile by simply chalking it up to the way it’s written. But no, it definitely doesn’t stop at that change because next comes what sounds like a swamp-pop guitar, except that rock subgenre is supposedly a good eight years or so away from being invented.

We’re still not done either, as halfway through, just shy of two minutes, we get what sounds suspiciously like a country guitar lead with a twang in the strings. You could go so far as to say the final licks are more like a pop song but by now it doesn’t really matter how many more styles they touch upon because it’s already so diverse that it can’t properly be classified as any one thing.

Yet remarkably it holds together in spite of that evolving musical language. The guitar weaves its way through the song, coming up for air then sliding back into the mix while Gant’s piano takes over. It’s not a very complex track at all, yet its compelling because of how as it moves it catches the light in different ways allowing you to see things you hadn’t seen leading up to it.


Please Send My Baby Home
With such a chameleon-like aura to the backing music it’s left up to Cecil Gant to give it a consistent voice, something he sometimes has trouble doing even without such things to deal with going on behind him.

Sure enough the plot of Hello Santa Claus is also seemingly heading down different paths, starting off with him bemoaning the loss of his wife and asking ol’ St. Nick to send her home to him

Of course we soon find out it’s his own damn fault for cheating on her so we can only hope Santa delivers a lump of coal – upside his head – for Cecil’s philandering.

Along the way he wishes others a Merry Christmas in what seems like a complete deviation from the plot before he circles back to complete the stanza and add some details to the story. Unexpectedly he turns over a new leaf brought on by a helpful suggestion to stop his screwing around (he couldn’t have figured out this himself?!?!) which leads to the resolution in which he’s happy once again because of his decision to return to his wife.

Now we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that she hasn’t agreed to see him again, let alone get back together with her no-good husband. It’s been a full year since they were together and for her sake we hope she’s moved on to a more stable partner than Cecil Gant, but even so you can’t help but be modestly charmed by how easily he’s pacified by the mere thought.

Certainly it’s no less fantastical than talking snowmen and flying reindeer.

Thank You For Your Advice
Though the individual components are seemingly at odds with one another throughout this record – sonically and thematically – there’s still a unified presentation to it all that overcomes those issues enough to make this rather interesting.

It apparently confounded the reviewers at Cash Box however, who apparently were drunk on eggnog when they pronounced this to be a greeting to Kris Kringle rather than actually paying attention to the plot.

But that’s probably an aftereffect of having to wade through so many Cecil Gant releases these last few months, as he can be an exhausting artist to deal with at times.

So while Hello Santa Claus was hardly going to displace Bing Crosby’s Christmas output on Decca’s best seller lists, it’s an intriguing curio in their catalog all the same.


(Visit the Artist page of Cecil Gant for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)