The 12 Songs of November


Our monthly Spotify holiday music playlist features new music from Rodney Crowell, The Mavericks, Delicate Steve and PJ Morton, as well as tracks by Brenda Lee, Kaskade, Big Freedia and more.

Don’t sleep on “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by New Orleans’ Huey “Piano” Smith and the Clowns, the title track for a perfectly anarchic rock ‘n’ roll Christmas album that was deemed sacrilegious when the album was first released in 1962. In Huey “Piano” Smith and the Rockin’ Pneumonia Blues, John Wirt wrote about Smith seeing how the song was received an American Bandstand-like teen dance show on television:

Johnny Vincent [head of Ace Records] hadn’t even told them that the album was out. “Hey!” Huey said as he sat on the hotel floor. “We’re in if this record go’ to playing around here. It’ll be unending where we’ll be playing at.” But the program’s host cut the song short. “They should be ashamed of themselves!” he proclaimed. “Mocking Christmas! This is a disgrace! Let me show y’all what we can do with this.” He smashed the album and threw it in the trash can.

Because the host was not alone in his response, Johnny Vincent shelved Smith’s Christmas album until it was reissued on CD in 1998.