Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”
There are two definitive popular versions of this song, as far as I’m concerned. One is the Jackson 5 version from The Jackson 5 Christmas Album (which they play to death at Macy’s, along with “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” — my preferred Jackson 5 Christmas song, “Up on the Housetop,” is, of course, ignored). The other is this one.
Much like Jimmy Smith re-created “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” in his own weird image, Bruce and Friends did up “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” the way only Bruce and Friends can. It’s still recognizably a Christmas song, with sleigh bells and everything, but it rocks — Jersey style.
Best part of the song? Clarence Clemons tearing it up around the 2:15 mark. No contest. He doesn’t stray too far from the melody, and he doesn’t go crazy with his range. But he kicks the shit out of it. Jam, Clarence, jam.