Hey guys and gal,
In the next day or two I’ll get around to putting up my year end music post but I thought I’d take a minute now to talk about three of my favorite Christmas songs and ask you all to share some of yours. I know Christmas music often sends people into paroxysms of rage or delight but I’m mostly indifferent to a lot of it. The three songs below, however, are a notable exception.
“Father Christmas” by The Kinks
Quick, name a shitty Kinks song. That was a test–if you said anything at all, kill yourself. “Father Christmas” is no exception to their series of solid gold hits. Recorded in 1977, the song features Dave Davies doing his best Johnny Ramone impression while Ray Davies howls a sad/funny (which is THE BEST combination) story about robbing Santa Claus for cash instead of toys. The lyrics are unabashedly anti-commercial, righteously liberal, and feature the typical Davies wit. A nice, bitter antidote to the more saccharine fare of the season.
“All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey
My family makes fun of me because one Christmas, under the influence of holiday cheer and almost a fifth of Wild Turkey, I played this song roughly thirty times during our Christmas Eve celebrations. I do have a soft spot for Christmas songs about being separated from loved ones (cf. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and that really stupid one Aaron Neville covers that I think the Eagles wrote) so Mariah Carey’s ode to her absent lover was pretty much guaranteed to appeal to me. Beyond the lyrics, though, the song’s built like a brick outhouse. With thudding, meet-thy-maker, Motown-on-Rip Fuel-drums and a backing chorus of fallen Christmas angels, Carey’s voice soars through her octaves pleading her erstwhile lover to come home. By the time the song reaches the bridge, you can practically hear the blood starting to trickle from her nose. Never before has unhinged, psychotic loneliness sounded so fucking amazing. Nick Cannon, get home to momma!
“Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues
I spend a post-college year living in New York, wildly miserable and frequently as drunk. That December, I found myself in a bar in Queens with a friend. The two of us, lonely at spending the holiday apart from our families, were seeking to rid the world of alcohol by drinking all of it and this song happened to come on the jukebox. We drunkenly belted out the chorus and stumbled through the verses while the rest of the bar tried to ignore our terribleness. It was the happiest moment of my entire time in New York due both to the company and the song. Though it’s ostensibly a Christmas song, it’s one of the best musical descriptions of the intense loneliness that being in the city engenders in a person I’ve ever heard. I find a lot of the Pogues work tiring because Shane MacGowan’s lovable drunkard delivery wears a little thin for my taste but it works charmingly on this song, largely due to the presence of Kristy MacColl. Like the above songs, it’s also a combination of moods with the darkness of the lyrics contrasting perfectly with the lilting Irish rock that the band cranks out. Play this in any bar during December to start a sing-along.