Thursday, December 2, 2010
The Christmas Chronicles pt. 1: Christmas songs for the jaded and the jolly
I fully realize you hate, OK maybe not hate, but strongly dislike holiday music like I dislike Garth Brooks and Journey. Sometimes you think stores are under the assumption that piping "Jingle Bell Rock" through the p.a. pumps shoppers up to spend money they don't have like Creed propels a douche bag and Motley Crue propels a stripper. You may have grown tired of listening to the holiday staples long ago cemented into four weeks of December like Phil Collins' star on the Hollywood walk of fame in front of Mann's Chinese theater that is routinely peed on by both vagrants and those who feel that Genesis took a hit when he started singing.
I can't offer you a whole lot of advice on how to persevere through the holidays other than to rethink ill-thought gifts like sweaters bearing Garfield's likeliness (I got one of those), a shaving kit for preteens (I also got one of those), and those chocolates filled with trace amounts of alcohol which I actually tried to buy as a gift one year before I turned 21. Much to my surprise, the teen manning the register was quite the dedicated employee, loyal to his position and requested to see my ID proving I was old enough to purchase the chocolates. I pointed out to him that long before you caught a buzz off these chocolates you'd get a dual treat of raging acne and a diabetic coma. He then refused to sell me the chocolates. Anyways, its a rough world out there in holiday land and you need good music to aide in safely traversing from store to store to bar to bar to massage parlor. Now fill up your flasks and start your engines. Love your ghost of Christmas present, Luke
1. The Pogues-Fairytale of New York
This song is essentially two wretched individuals professing their love for one another whilst lobbing a vast array of insults at one another. Its set in New York around or on Christmas day and begins with the drunk, not the "slut on junk", finding himself in a drunk tank. Jingle Bells it is not, but it somehow manages to convey that sense of unconditional, unabated the holidays seem to bolster.
2. The Ramones-Merry Christmas (I don't wanna fight tonight)
This is the mighty Ramones' attempt at a holiday staple. The protagonist is telling their loved one that maybe we can hold off on throwing household items at one another and simply enjoy Christmas. This is arguably the fastest Christmas song you'll discover as the Ramones not only sang about sniffing glue, they did sniff glue and the notion that a Christmas song shouldn't be played at breakneck speed was lost on them. I rightfully so.
3. Tom Waits- Silent Night
Mr. Waits takes a stab at a the quintessential holiday tune of a dead horse that has been sung or whipped to death and somehow manages to dirge it up. I love this song as it sounds like Tom earnestly belts out the song yet most listeners recoil in horror wondering how the singer tricked his way into a recording contract.
4. U2- It's Christmas (Baby please come home)
Blame it on the Phil Spector "Wall of Sound" production, but the cover of the classic penned by Phil Spector in 1963 by a Joshua Tree era U2 is a holiday regular anyone, even convicts, can fully endorse. It speaks of Bono's longing for his girl to come home and help him comb that awesome mullet he wore for a good portion of the 80's. But it also reminds you that the holidays aren't nearly as enjoyable or complete without that special someone in your arms, mulleted or not.
5. Vince Guaraldi-Linus and Lucy (Charlie Brown theme song)
The dark horse of holiday tunes, "Linus and Lucy" has the unenviable position of being the theme song to a cartoon about a manic depressive boy who balded prematurely, yet somehow emerges jubilant, swinging and undeniably identifiable. The song conjures up token memories of the Charlie Brown specials of yesteryear. Long before you had the sense to know that "Chuck" should be on Prozac and just assume that Peppermint Patty (future Indigo Girls fan? Discuss.) would yank the ball back before he ever had a crack at it.