Thursday, December 21, 2006

Lew Scannon's Annual Christmas Music Rant

Well, I am proud to say, that my ban on Christmas music at work has been very succesful this year. (yes, I'm one of them). It's not that i don't like Christmas music per se,it's just that I don't want to have to listen to the radio station that plays Christmas music. Why? Any number of reasons.
The first is Jingle Bells. They play it every hour and a half (and never play the barking dogs version) by various artists like Bing Crosby and the Andrews sisters version (which I like) to Barry Manilow's version (which is the same arrangement, rendering it entirely pointless). But what I've noticed is, although there are four verses to the song, nobody sings more than the first verse and the chorus. Repeatedly. Granted, Perry Como sang all four on his Christmas album, but they don't play that version, and Smokey Robinson did half the second verse on his version, but, once again, they don't play that version. (extra brownie points to anyone who can tell me how the second verse goes)
Second is Silent Night. I have a beautiful version of the song sung in Gaelic by Enya, but it's not something I necessarily want to hear while I'm working. It's better suited to listening at night, preferrably a snowy one (which we don't get too much of any more)At home, it's uplifting, at work, it's a downer. And I don't want to hear Clay Aiken, or any other former American Idol contestant's version of it.
Then there's the Christian disco version of Mary's Boy Child the radio station plays that is so wrong on so many levels that I can't believe that anyone would enjoy listening to it.
Or how about Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas? Originally written, the song was kind of a downer. And sung properly (such as the Pretenders version), it's a beautiful song. But when the Carpenters do it, all meaning is drained form the song, and that's the most played version on our local Christmas music station.
Don't get me wrong, I'm no heartless Scrooge who proclaims "Humbug" like some Grinch with a small heart. I still get choked up watching Elf, and I've seen the movie several times. But there's a difference between something done well with real meaning, like, say John & Yoko's Happy Xmas (War Is Over), and something crass and exploitive done poorly, like Paul & Linda's Simply Having A Wonderful Christmastime. If Paul McCartney really wanted to tap into Christmas cheer, he'd have Apple release the Beatles 1967 Christmas record Christmas Time Is Here Again!, which would probably be a big seller, which leads me to believe he didn't write the song, otherwise he would have, so in the next Beatles documentary, he could take credit for it like he did for Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Just because an artist is popular is no excuse for them to record a whole album of Christmas standards. When Bing or Frank, or Dean did it, many of these songs were just written, but when today's artist are recording the same songs with out adding anything new to them, it reeks of exploitation. Or when they try to write their own Christmas song manipulating the same cliches used by Mel Torme` when he wrote The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) (best version:Chet Baker). And maybe it's me, but who really goes on a sleigh ride on Christmas (except for Santa) every Christmas?
Now, there's a list of songs that if these stations played, I might be more apt to tune into and listen, but since they're playing the crappiest of the crap, I'll just listen to them on my CDs.
1.Zat You, Santa Claus?-Louis Armstrong
2.Christmas Time Is Here Again-The Beatles
3.The Christmas Blues-Dean Martin
4.Christmas In Prison-John Prine
5.Please Daddy, Don't Get Drunk This Christmas-John Denver
6.Walking The Floor This Christmas-Ernest Tubb
7.Father Christmas-The Kinks
8.Christmas Wrapping-The Waitresses
9.Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)-Darlene Love
10.Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)-The Ramones
11. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! -Vaughn Monroe
And then, there's the three Christmas songs I hear too much, and really need to be given a rest:
1.Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree-Brenda Lee
2.Blue Christmas-Elvis Presley
3.Holly Jolly Christmas-Burl Ives
Please feel free to add your own songs to either list, as I'm sure there's some for both I overlooked. Happy Holidays to all!


Peacechick Mary said...

Definitely "Santa Baby" - Ertha Kit with her growly cat tones. That one demonstrates how women can use sex to get what they want. Maybe we could take Bush hostage; screw his brains out and send him on his way.

Frederick said...

You know, this is the first year in ages that I've heard Lennon's Happy Christmas before the 25th. For the list: Anything off of Emmit Otter's Jug-Band Christmas

PTCruiser said...

"5.Please Daddy, Don't Get Drunk This Christmas-John Denver

Truly a man of vision. What a loss. Great post, Lew. Merry Christmas!

Snave said...

I think I know what you mean, Lew... while I am also not a "humbug"-shouting Gingrich who stole Christmas or anything like that, I get awfully tired of Christmas music. There was a good commentator on NPR recently who was saying there is basically no "good Christmas music". Looking at your lists, I might have to tend toward disagreement with that commentator. There IS some good Christmas music out there, but it seems like that's the stuff we never hear. I don't ever want to hear some stuff again, but then there IS that stuff I would love to hear, at least once in a while.

As it is, I tend to get certain Christmas songs running around in my head to the point where I drive myself nuts. My wife is the same way, and all I have to do to get her agitated for a few hours is to start humming "Frosty the Snowman". As a personal therapy method, I make up my own obscene lyrics to such overplayed Christmas songs, and then I can go around laughing and chucking to myself. People think I'm nuts, and maybe I am, but it IS therapeutic. I just got an 8-channel digital recorder... maybe I will have to write and record an album of "obscene Christmas classics". Maybe there is a market for such a thing?

Your contrast between the Lennon/Ono Christmas song and the McCartney's is very nicely written. In my not so humble opinion, that Macca thing is like an ugly growth on his face that just won't go away... how could such a talented person put out such a piece of tripe? I didn't even know there was a Beatles Christmas song... Sheesh. Has it been heard? Is it any good? If it hasn't been released or re-released, why not? I would run out and buy it immediately!

I do like a few of the traditional tunes... I love "Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella", but it's one we don't seem to get to hear enough...

Well, just one more week of hearing "Jingle Bells", "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "Deck the Halls"... Time to grit our teeth and ride it out!

Snave said...

BTW, I love your little Lew guy with the Santa hat! I would like to be able to do something like that with my Eraserhead Snave guy, but I lack the computer skills.

Nice work!

Kathy said...

Happy holidays to you, Lew. These are complete opposites, but I love "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" and "Little Drummer Boy."

The first song always brings a smile to my face. I loved my maternal grandmother, but lets just say she had some unflattering qualities. I would have loved to watch her put Santa and his reindeer in their place!

I'm not a big instrumental only fan, but "Little Drummer Boy" is an exception. I love the drums and the way the song builds in intensity. Odd, eh?

I don't miss the snow. Have a happy "green" holiday.

Lew Scannon said...

Eartha Kitt, yes, but every other "diva" who's recorded it since, no thanks.
I've heard it several times, oddly enough on a Clear Channel station
This was early John Denver, before he started to hang with the Muppets and became one himself
I actually have a version of The Beatles Christmas song. It was put out through their fan club and I was able to download it off Limewire before I knew that downloading was stealing. It's a good song, and my kids love it.
Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer was my favorite song to hear when I had to drive across the middle of the state down two,lane highways to my in-laws for Christmas, it seemed appropriate accompaniment to acres of cornfields.

Tina said...

I agree with your list of greats Lew... but how could you ever forget "Merry Christmas, Baby" by Charles Brown?
I simply can't hear Brown's soulful version of that song and NOT want to drink some rum laden eggnog and snuggle lustfully on the couch with my Hubby.

Anonymous said...

Now that's a worthy list.

Merry Christmas Lew!

sumo said...

Merry Christmas Lew! The Santa hat is a great touch.

DivaJood said...

I LOVE the Kink's "Father Christmas". In Chicago, WXRT played it a lot. But now I'm in Los Angeles, and fugedaboudid.

Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby" is amazing. And I was doing well with your list, until the three "Never Hear Again" - and you put that horrific Burl Ives song on the list, which I put in the category of "It's A Small World" - hate them - and can't get them out of my head - GRRRR.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you Lew. As a music teacher I HATE the standard Christmas tunes. There are only just so many times you can direct "Jingle Bells" before going completely insane. I'm afraid I'm one away from my limit.

Happy Holidays to you and yours. Let's hope that 2007 is a little more bearable than the last several.

pissed off patricia said...

A little Christmas music goes a long way with me.

To the list of songs that make me laugh is "Mama says Santa Can't Stay"

Betty Cracker said...

My all-time favorite Christmas song is "What Will Santa Claus Say (When He Finds Everybody Swinging)" by Louis Prima. I also like "Zat You, Santa Claus?"

I can't listen to the crap they play on the radio for very long either, but I love Christmas music. I have a vast collection of Christmas CDs that I play incessantly this time of year until my family makes me stop.

Pursey Tuttweiler said...

I like to hear Bobby Womack's Christmas record and Miles Davis' Blue Xmas.

I haven't heard The Pretenders version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas but I am sure it is good. I currently only like the Judy Garland version. Other people sing it and forget it is a song about war and they make it all happy, snappy.

Anonymous said...

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