I think every Bruce Springsteen fan claims to be at the concert when this song was first played.? So yay for them!? This is also one of the few musical celebrity Christmas songs that I enjoy – well, you know their rendition of a classic.
There’s nothing subversive about this or ironic for that matter. The Boss isn’t singing this song, which he performs just about every year around this time if he’s touring, in that wink wink detached kind of way. There is jubilation in the way in approaches “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” That’s somehow refreshing in many ways.
I’m a Christmas music classicist and this has certainly become a classic over the years. What’s funny is one of the first times he plays the song was the rendition below. Taken from the September 20th, 1978 – Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ show. It’s black and white and the sound could be better. But it’s great stuff. Bruce and his band in their early years and at their best. Also, the way the crowd reacts to those opening notes, either they really knew the song, really loved the Boss, or The Boss had been playing this song for a while and they were anticipating it.