"Jingle Bell Rock"/"Captain Santa Claus" by Bobby Helms (December 1957)
This 45 is one of the many two-siders to enjoy popularity at the Shady Dell. Both sides were enduring seasonal favorites. "Jingle Bell Rock" first became a nationwide hit at Christmas time in 1957. Every December thereafter, the song would magically show up on the Dell’s dance hall jukebox just in time to help engender a festive holiday mood.
You might think that the Dell's inner circle would have avoided this old countrified Christmas classic, dismissing it as square. Instead, the gang eagerly got into the spirit of the proceedings and made it their own.
The record’s B-side, a nursery school ditty entitled "Captain Santa Claus," produced an extraordinary response at the Dell. The beginning of the song consists of a series of bizarre and instantly recognizable sound effects. Naming that tune in seconds flat, the crowd would erupt in gleeful, childlike laughter.
Jubilant rats would leap to their feet, head out on the dance floor, and skip around the room hand-in-hand like merry little elves. At the Dell, even the coolest kids were capable of letting their hair down on occasion and acting silly, particularly during Christmas break when Bobby Helms was serenading us.
The popularity of these two perennial holiday classics allows me to once again make the point that Dell rats of the 60s seemed to welcome the opportunity to embrace the music of the past and preserve the traditions of their 50s predecessors.