Feliz Navidad, Santa Baby!

The “06880” tagline is “Where Westport meets the world.”

Turns out, 06880 — and 06883 — are where we meet the Christmas music world too.

The other day in Weston, Susan Feliciano was listening to Songcraft. The popular podcast features chats with the creators of America’s most popular music.

The most recent edition covered Christmas songs. Susan’s husband Jose was the first interview.

The best-selling guitarist/vocalist has been on a sold-out tour of the British Isles since October. So even though Susan knew the back story, it was nice to hear Jose’s voice as he talked about writing the joyful, jangly — and spectacularly successful — “Feliz Navidad” one day in July.

She kept listening.

The next interview was with Phil Springer. That’s when Susan learned something she never knew.

Springer is now 91. Way back in 1953 — more than 60 years ago — he was a Brill Building songwriter, writing for stars like Judy Garland.

His boss asked Springer to work with lyricist Joan Javits on a Christmas song for Eartha Kitt.

“She was the sexiest woman in America,” he told Songcraft.

Springer and Javits spent 2 weekends collaborating on the song — at her father’s Westport home. (Springer did not say who Javits’ father was. But her uncle was Jacob Javits, then a US congressman from New York, later a senator, and now the namesake of a large convention center.)

Their collaboration became what Springer calls “the first sexy Christmas song” (with lyrics like “Santa baby, Slip a sable under the tree, for me … Been an awful good girl … Hurry down the chimney tonight”).

Eartha Kitt’s recording became a huge hit in 1953 — but then disappeared. (Coincidentally, in later years she became a Weston neighbor of Jose and Susan Feliciano.)

“Santa Baby” resurfaced in 1987, when Madonna revived it. Since then it’s been featured in “Driving Miss Daisy,” and recorded by many other female singers.

Today, both “Feliz Navidad” and “Santa Baby” can be heard on every Christmas radio station — and just about every other place — in America.

Including — particularly proudly — Westport and Weston, their spiritual homes.

(Click here for the full Songcraft Christmas show podcast.)

3 responses to “Feliz Navidad, Santa Baby!

  1. Luisa Francoeur

    And, don’t forget, it has been sung at the Staples Candlelight concert, too. I think it was Anna Runyeon.

  2. Phil Springer and my mom, Harriett Bailin were frequent collaborators back in the Brill Building days. Dear friends and huge fans of each other’s work. I’m glad that Phil is still going strong. I miss mom daily.

  3. Kim Crowther Manning

    Eartha Kitt’s daughter, Kitt, lives right here in Westport. She pays tribute to her mom with a fantastic lifestyle brand – home accessories, beautiful bracelets and necklaces, novelty items and much more. This is what Kitt says about her creations:

    ‘accessories that SAY something’, is a tribute to my mother, the legendary entertainer, Eartha Kitt. These are her words, her wisdom, and her image, that I now share with you, her fans, old and new.

    She taught me how to live life honestly, with respect for everyTHING and everyONE. To possess calm in place of panic and not to forget that humor is one of life’s most precious gifts.
    -Kitt Shapiro

    Here is a link to her website.