17 December 2021

Annual Tradition: A Very Tom Waits Christmas

 Every year, since about 2006 or so, I've always posted a riff on Tom Waits around Christmas time, supposedly from the point of view of one of the reindeer. I've posted it here at least once, and since next Friday is Christmas Eve...

Well, here we are.


By Jim Winter

I pulled on Santa’s sleigh
Christmas Eve was dark, and the snow fell like cocaine off some politician’s coffee table
Rudolph looked to the sky. He had a shiny nose, but it was from too much vodka
He said, “Boys, it’s gonna be a rough one this year.”

I pulled on Santa’s sleigh
The elves scrambled to pack up the last of the lumps of coal for deserving suburban brats
And a bottle of Jamie for some forgotten soul whose wife just left him
Santa’s like that. He’s been there.
Oh, he still loves Mrs. Claus, a spent piece of used sleigh trash who
Makes good vodka martnis, knows when to keep her mouth shut
But it’s the lonlieness, the lonliness only Santa knows

I pulled on Santa’s sleigh
And the workshop reeks of too much peppermint
The candy canes all have the names of prostitutes
And Santa stands there, breathing in the lonliness
The lonliness that creeps out of the main house
And out through the stables
Sometimes it follows the big guy down the chimneys
Wraps itself around your tannenbaum and sleeps in your hat

I pulled on Santa’s sleigh
We all line up for the annual ride
I’m behind Vixen, who’s showin’ her age these days
She has a certain tiredness that comes with being the only girl on the team
Ah, there’s nothing wrong with her a hundred dollars wouldn’t fix
She’s got a tear drop tattooed under her eye now, one for every year Dancer’s away

I pulled on Santa’s sleigh and
I asked myself, “That elf. What’s he building in there?”
He has no elf friends, no elf children
What’s he building in there?
He doesn’t make toys like the other elves
I heard he used to work for Halliburton,
And he’s got an ex-wife in someplace called Santa Claus, Pennsylvania
But what’s he building in there?
We got a right to know.

I pulled on Santa’s sleigh
And we’re off
Off into the night
Watching the world burn below
All chimney red and Halloween orange

I’ve seen it all
I’ve seen it all
Every Christmas Eve, I’ve seen it all
There’s nothing sadder than landing on a roof in a town with no cheer.


  1. I sneaked meself past Da and Ma and down the stairs to watch the sleigh he pulled ride in. Snow’s haphazard, global warming, a sad night in Mudville, 'cause Baby, it’s cold outside’s been cultured cancelled. And then I got me glimpse of Santa, all buzzed and bombed. The cookies crumbled, the hot choc’s gone cold.

  2. Ah, the guy behind the Leonard Cohen voice described as more Dylan than Dylan. He’s a smart guy, but the smartest thing he did was marry the gorgeous and brilliant Kathleen Brennan, one of the best married collaborations ever.

    Four degrees of separation lie between Waits and SleuthSayers:
    1. Bones Howe produced early Waits albums.
    2. Bones Howe is married to Melodie Johnson Howe.
    3. Melodie Johnson Howe was an original author in Criminal Brief along with Rob and me, and subsequently John and Janice.
    4. SleuthSayers took up the cause when Criminal Brief retired.

    Waits ➾ Bones ➾ Melodie ➾ Criminal Brief ➾ SleuthSayers

    Best Waiticism:
    I don’t care who I have to step on on my way down.

    1. In other words, being on this blog puts all of us less than six degrees from Waits.



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