You may not know the name Bobby Helms, but if you’ve ever heard the classic version of “Jingle Bell Rock”, that’s him. He also sung “My Special Angel”, and I admit those are the only songs I’ve heard beyond the song we’re discussing tonight. Helms made it into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and passed away in 1997 but he never made as big a splash in music as I would assume he would have liked. With 16 albums there was only one single, the aforementioned “Jingle Bell Rock”, but it’s the B-side of the old 45 album that brings us here tonight, and it’s a song that sadly has been lost among the more novelty side of Christmas songs. When you consider that Christmas is the only time novelty songs are usually played apologetically on radio and streaming stations losing this one makes this classic sci-fi fan sad.
The worst part is I can find almost nothing about “Captain Santa Claus And His Reindeer Space Patrol”, written by Don Reid and Arthur Altman and released in 1957. Actually, that’s all I found out about it, but when it came to my mom’s copy of the single 45 I played that one more than its more famous album mate. If you know me, you already know why. Heck, it was the subject of last year’s Captain Yuletide comic, which is probably more attention than the song’s gotten in a long time. You won’t find any covers on the radio (though maybe you’ll stumble upon someone on YouTube who did a cover) and it’s really a shame because while you can make the case that it’s a bit dated it’s still a fun song.
Since I couldn’t find an actual lyric video here’s the lyrics for you to read.
The word has spread from town to town
That Santa’s sleigh had broken down
And there would be no toys this Christmas day
When suddenly a cry was heard
“Up in the sky, is that a bird?”
And all the children shouted, “hip hooray!”
Hurray for Captain Santa Claus
And his Reindeer Space Patrol
His sleigh broke down one Christmas eve
As he started from the pole
He said, “those children’s hearts will break
if I don’t make this trip.”
But Santa’s helpers saved the day
When they built a rocket ship
Then with his reindeer space cadets
He took off through the air
And not one chimney did they miss
Every stocking got its share
Now children dance around the tree
With glee each time they’re told
The tale of Captain Santa Claus
And his Reindeer Space Patrol
Then the chorus repeats. Why this didn’t get a Christmas special made from it I’ll never know. Imagine a story where Santa Claus has to use a spaceship to save Christmas and the Reindeer are the ship’s crew. (I imagine Rudolph would be the navigator.) Back in the days when sci-fi was still allowed to be fun and didn’t have to be too bogged down in “real science” it may not have stood the test of time but when has that ever stopped me? I still watch old movie serials.
I can imagine a full story would have gone into why Santa’s sleigh broke down, possibly aliens who hate Christmas that also stole all the presents, so Santa and the Reindeer had to chase after them. You also have to figure the “rocket sleigh” (as I called it in Captain Yuletide #6) must have already have been built if they had time to launch it and get the presents out on Christmas Eve. Sure it could have been from when there weren’t as many kids to deliver to but despite our attempts to either suspend disbelief for the kids or come up with ways it could work (I like “magic that allows him to travel between the seconds, coming back to normal space to get his bearings which is how NORAD finds him every Christmas Eve”) there’s only so far that can go and building a rocket ship takes more than a few minutes.
I’m just sorry this one doesn’t have multiple covers and yet “You’re A Mean One, Mister Grinch” has a whole bunch, none of which has given it the proper emotion compared to the original from the Chuck Jones adaptation of How The Grinch Stole Christmas (aka the only one really worth watching because it doesn’t need to add any useless fluff or cringe humor). Like I said, I could find nothing about this song, why it was written, and it seems to have made little impact compared to (in my opinion) lesser novelty songs like “Dominick The Donkey”. THAT I can find info on but not a story where Santa and his Reindeer fly THEIR OWN PRESENT CARRYING SPACESHIP? Internet, you find new and exciting ways to fail me.