The Beach Boys‘ “Little Saint Nick” is one of the most famous Christmas songs by a classic rock band. Mike Love said it sounds similar to one of The Beach Boys’ other hits. In addition, he said “Little Saint Nick” wasn’t as good as its B-side.
How The Beach Boys felt about transitioning from surf music to Christmas songs
During a 2022 interview with The Times, Love was asked if The Beach Boys had their arms twisted to record their first Christmas album, as they were more about sun and surf. “No, it wasn’t much arm-twisting because a lot of The Beach Boys’ singing originally was at Christmas parties,” Love recalled. “My mom had an organ and a harp in the living room — I have two sisters who play harp. And we would get together for Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthdays and it was always about music.
“We’d literally go caroling around the neighborhood for Christmastime,” he continued. “My mom was one of eight kids so there’d be lots of cousins, aunts and uncles and stuff. That, along with family friends. It was just natural for us because the family got together for Christmas.”
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Mike Love said Brian Wilson started writing The Beach Boys’ ‘Little Saint Nick’ because he couldn’t work with Phil Spector
In addition, Love discussed the origin of The Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick.” “Early on, ‘Surfin’ Safari’ was our single and the other side was ‘409,’ a car song,” he said. “The same with ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.‘ and ‘Shut Down,’ about a drag race. So, we just thought, what about a hot rod that was a sled? So, it’s a car song all about Santa on his hot rod sled.”
In his 2016 book Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy, Love discussed other inspirations behind “Little Saint Nick.” He said Brian Wilson lost the chance to play piano on a song from Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records, also known as A Christmas Gift to You from Phil Spector. This experience inspired Wilson to write a Christmas song. Love said Wilson composed the song while driving his car and “thrumming the wheel.”
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Mike Love said ‘Little Saint Nick’ wasn’t as good as its B-side
Love said “Little Saint Nick” was similar in composition to “Little Deuce Coupe,” another Beach Boys song about a car. Love wrote most of the lyrics for “Little Saint Nick.” He said the tune became a holiday classic; however, he was more impressed with its B-side. The B-side was an a cappella rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer” by Albert Hay Malotte.
Love preferred “The Lord’s Prayer” to “Little Saint Nick,” but the latter is still a ubiquitous classic.
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