Credit: Udo SpreitzenbarthThe Beach Boys have written and recorded plenty of classic pop songs over their long career, among them one bona fide Christmas classic, “Little Saint Nick,” which was released in December 1963. Singer Mike Love, who co-wrote the tune with his band mate and cousin Brian Wilson, says it was inspired by some of the popular car-themed hits The Beach Boys had around that time.

“We wanted to make Santa’s sleigh a hot rod, ’cause we’d done ‘409’ and ‘Shut Down’ and ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ and [songs] like that,” Love explains to ABC Radio. “I said, ‘Hey, we gotta do a song about Santa having a hot rod sled.'”

As Mike points out, the song features such lyrics as, “It’s candy-apple red with a ski for a wheel/ And when Santa hits the gas, man, just watch her peel/ He’s got to wear his goggles ’cause the snow really flies/ And he’s cruisin’ every path with a little surprise.”

Love adds, “It’s taking the story of Santa Claus…and having him have a hot-rod sled, which was a fun song. And it’s a perennial. It’s played every year.”

After its initial release as a single, “Little Saint Nick” appeared on the 1964 holiday album The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album.

Meanwhile, Love tells ABC Radio that he and his family usually spend Christmas at his home near Lake Tahoe, Nevada, where as many as 60 people sometimes get together to celebrate. Among his family traditions is gathering in the living room to sing holiday tunes.

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