Did you know you know that record labels used to release special commentary tracks to play along with 45s, much like the ones available on your modern DVDs? It’s true! This holiday season, Scratchbomb has transcribed some Yuletide examples of this bygone format and presents them to you now for your reading pleasure. Today, the commentary track for “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”
HAROLD STERLING, CIA STATION CHIEF: In 1951, I was tapped to head the MK-KLAUS program. This program was coded at security level 4-7A, which meant that if President Truman had even asked me about it, I was authorized to shoot him.
The main purpose of the project was to construct a Christmas song that could combat the insidious communistic influence found in holiday fare like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Several top songwriters were conscripted into the Agency, given high level security clearances, and instructed to produce a Christmas carol that could subliminally combat Soviet propaganda. This wasn’t the first time we’d done something like this. During World War II, the OSS parachuted Cole Porter behind enemy lines, where he was instructed to charm the Nazis into surrender with his sophisticated songsmithery.
We took the songwriters and holed them up in a bunker several miles below an undisclosed location in the New Mexico desert. Several days in, however, it became apparent that they were not accustomed to working in such an austere environment. So we relocated them to a New York studio, armed with an upright piano and a stockpile of gin and Lucky Strikes. Cyanide pills were distributed in case the boys at the shoeshine stand got too nosy.
The songwriters grew much more productive here, but several had to be dismissed when it was discovered they’d ignored the purpose of the project and written the complete score to “The King and I” instead. In early October, a suitable song was finally produced. The song speaks of a tyrannical, omnipresent man in red who knows what you are doing at all times, even when you are sleeping, and warns you to watch out for his arrival.
The song was piped through the vents of unsuspecting department stores to gauge an organic response from the general populace. The results were astonishing–shoppers breaking out into spontaneous fits of whistling, foot tapping, and general Yuletide merriment. This experiment led us to release it into the holiday environment as an airborne contaminant, where it remains to this day.
The song was later used as a trigger device for a highly trained assassin, who was hypnotized into such a state where he was not aware of his own abilities, but would become “activated” again once he heard the song. The plan backfired while he was on assignment in Guatemala and heard a local folk tune that resembled the trigger song, then mistakenly sniped the enormous stone figures at a Mayan temple.
MK-KLAUS was slowly phased out after that unfortunate incident, though some of its principle figures were later assembled to compose a Cuban jazz riff that could make Castro’s beard fall out.