Jolly Old Saint Pachelbel

Keeping up with the theme of Convincing You Christmas Music Isn’t So Bad, I’m going to introduce you to a very clever version of Jolly Old Saint Nicholas that my brother put together. You can buy the track here for a buck. (Scroll to the bottom)


I’ve introduced you to the idea of quoting songs in the past. There, I mentioned the piece that we are listening to here. My brother is a great musician and one of his skills is putting together arrangements. He’s been doing this since he was a kid. I remember when he was in high school, he would spend hours at the piano coming up with 6 part arrangements of popular songs for his group to play. He would be so focused, for so long, that he wrecked his stomach and basically drank Pepto Bismol like most kids drink soda. He was a mess. But he was really good.

Anyway, this song starts off as Pachelbel’s Canon in D. That’s what going on for the first 20 seconds.

Then he overlays trumpets (he’s playing one) with the melody of Jolly Old Saint Nicholas.

At 45 seconds, the trombone comes in with the old Burger King ad “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us…” Remember that? If you missed it, don’t worry. It’ll be back.

At 1:08 the trumpet comes in with a lyric line that sounded really familiar, but I just couldn’t place. I went back and listened to the Canon and it was similar, but not quite the same. So I just called my brother to get the scoop. Turns out he was kind of improvising the Canon. He only vaguely remembered the melody, and what he remembered didn’t quite work, so he invented this line. I love this line in the song, partly because the trumpet has such as great tone.

At 1:33 the trombone is back introducing Puff the Magic Dragon. Don’t recognize it? You will at 1:48 when the French Horn comes in with the melody. “Puff the Magic Dragon lived by the sea…”

At 1:58 the trombone goes in for another Whopper. The lead trumpet starts the screwed up Canon melody. And the other trumpets come back with St Nick, and we basically have almost everything except Puff going on at the same time.


I asked him about the genesis of this song, and it turns out that riffing on Pachelbel’s Canon is kind of a thing. In fact, here’s a tremendously funny video of a guy pointing out all the Pachelbel quotes in popular music. Bear with it through the first couple minutes, because by the end it’s an absolute riot.

4 thoughts on “Jolly Old Saint Pachelbel

  1. Wow this is fantastic. Without elucidation by your commentary the seemingly incompatible elements would be nearly seamless. This reminds me of a favorite song of mine “Question” by the Moody Blues. I always liked that it seemed like two different songs that complimented each other. Later I saw an interview that confirmed my suspicion that it did begin as two different songs.
    I should also mention when I was 4 or 5 my favorite song was Puff the Magic Dragon. I liked it so much my mother bought me a record player.

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