Much has been made of the long tail of the Internet. The idea: there’s a market for anything and everything online, and you can build a pretty good business by servicing super-targeted niches. Let Target.com sell mass-produced sweaters for $25, in other words, while you knit sweaters out of unicorn hair and sell them online for $5000.
But I’ve learned that you can’t actually find everything on the Internet. Around the holidays last year, I started having weird childhood memories of a recording that involved Santa Claus, a feather bed, and a guy named “Reporter Dick.” (It’s not what you think.) Some basic Internet sleuthing revealed that these memories had their origin in a specific vinyl album…namely, “Christmas with Santa and His Friends.”
Evidently Radio Shack, a retailer known for its wise decisions, recorded “Christmas with Santa and His Friends” in the late 1970’s. It’s based on the premise that Reporter Dick travels to the North Pole to spend December with Santa and his friends, and he records what happens. (Just roll with it, okay?) Given that I don’t own a record player myself (I know…music sounds better on vinyl, etc.), I turned to the Google Play store, iTunes, and just about every other digital music purveyor I could find. Nothing. I couldn’t buy it digitally anywhere, and I wasn’t crazy about the idea of paying another online retailer $20 to mail me a copy of the album that they’d transferred to CD.
This is where my mom and dad (and a man in a ski mask) save the day. As further proof that God loves me, my parents still had the album, and they happily sent it my way. I reached out to my friend Makeup and Vanity Set to ask if he could wave his magic wand over vinyl and digitize it. He confirmed, adding that he could also reverse it and add reverb for maximum creepiness if desired. I declined that offer, but trusted him enough to send my prized LP his way.
Short story long, Makeup and Vanity Set did a wonderful job digitizing the album, although he confessed to getting a strong “journey to the top of Mount Doom and throw it into the fire before Sauron gets it” vibe while listening to the tracks. And he’s right; if you’ve never heard it before, it’s VERY bizarre. But for those of us who grew up with “Christmas with Santa and His Friends,” listening to it brings back memories of a time when we had nothing better to do than daydream about Christmas.
I’ve decided to post the files for download here, given that this glorious record seems otherwise doomed to disappear completely. (Tweet your thanks to @vanityset, by the way.)
By the way…I would love nothing more than for Radio Shack’s corporate copyright attorney or Chief Creative Officer Nick Cannon to contact me, tell me that the company is planning to re-release the album in a modern format, and ask me to remove this post. And I’ll happily comply. But given its bankruptcy protection filing and ownership changes, my hunch is that Radio Shack executives have no idea this album exists. And even if they do—and if they find this post—maybe they’ll appreciate the free publicity and allow the rest of us to celebrate Christmas on the strange, long tail of the Internet with Santa Claus and Reporter Dick. Enjoy “Christmas with Santa and His Friends!”