Tag Archives: “Santa Baby”

“Santa Baby” Sequel: Weston’s Eartha Kitt Lives On

Once upon a time, Christmas music was — well, Christmas music.

“Silent Night.” “Adeste Fidelis.” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”  You know — songs about Jesus, the Magi and the manger.

In 1953, Eartha Kitt released “Santa Baby.” It was — well, earthy.

Eartha Kitt

The 26-year-old entertainer sang seductively about gifts from a sugar daddy Santa — you know, a yacht, sable and ’54 convertible.

Despite being banned in parts of the South, it was the best-selling Christmas song of the year.

In the nearly 70 years since, it’s been covered by dozens of artists, including Madonna, Kylie Mingoue, Taylor Swift, Trisha Yearwood, Michael Bublé, RuPaul and Homer & Jethro.

It’s been found on lists of the best — and worst — Christmas songs of all time.

And it opened the door for an entire new category of offbeat holiday tunes. Had it not been for “Santa Baby,” we might never have known the singing chipmunks, the Kinks’ violent “Father Christmas,” or the song that truly is the worst of all time — in any category — “The Christmas Shoes.”

Eartha Kitt died in 2008 — fittingly, on Christmas Day — in her Weston home. Her daughter Kitt Shapiro has lived in Westport for 20 years. She owns WEST, the great boutique on Post Road East.

“Santa Baby” sure has legs. Last Friday, Sony Music released a new, animated video version of the song.

It’s quite a story. Directed by Kelly Jones (founder of a Black-owned visual media and design house) and produced by Cousins (a queer-owned production studio), it’s an homage to Eartha Kitt’s life and career. Smooth, sexy animation draws viewers right into the singer’s dreamy wish list.

In this COVID-stricken year of 2020, Santa may be paring down his gift list. He might be careful about how many homes he visits.

But if Eartha Kitt has her way — wherever she is now — Santa will hurry down her chimney that night.

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.)