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December 22, 2010

The ultimate performance of 'Feliz Navidad' from 'Bette Davis'

Among the longest, heartiest laughs I ever had around Christmas Time was when a Baltimore friend enlivened a holiday party with the ultimate interpretation of that rather annoying Jose Feliciano ditty "Feliz Navidad."

This version features none other than the immortal Bette Davis (OK, impersonator Jimmy James, if you want to be so damn technical), and just the mere idea of that woman singing this bouncy tune is hilarious. The sound of it is all the more so. I figured I owed it you, my treasured bloggies, to share it this Christmas.

(I should also add that, in addition to being a hoot, this recording has another interesting property. If you play it for a mixed crowd of unsuspecting folks, you'll find that it makes a pretty good test of who's gay -- or exceedingly gay-friendly -- in the room. They'll be the ones who really, really get it.)

I was delighted to find a YouTube clip of this incomparable classic. It's audio only, accompanied by shots of Davis films, so you'll have to imagine her (or Jimmy James) actually singing it, but that should be easy enough.

So brace yourself. Here comes Bette doing to "Feliz Navidad" what should be done to "Feliz Navidad":

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens


OMG that was hysterical. Love the ending - classic Bette Davis.
Even the capcha seems somehow appropriate : Priscilla soupro

Glad you liked it. TIM

That song will never be the same in my mind again! Bette sounds like Tallulah on crack! Thanks for the Holiday laugh, Tim. And thanks for all you do for the Baltimore Metro arts community.

Happy HoHoHo Days!

Tin Lizzie

I know well what you mean about that song never being the same. Brilliant, just brilliant. Thanks for writing. TIM.

Bravo Jimmy James!
Will Bette Davis ever rest in peace? I hope not. She'd've loved this holiday jewel for sure! Sent this 3 minute new "classic" around the world to friends and got instant responses with howling laughter! How can we ever hear this song again, without thinking of Bette Davis stubbing out her ciggarette butts and slapping faces as "she" sings?

As Bette might say, how nice you, how nice for me, how nice for everybody! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Cheers. TIM

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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