I always hated Christmas. I shouldn’t say I “always” hated Christmas. My parents and my grandparents were exceptional custodians of that particular holiday. Maybe that’s the problem. The Christmases of my childhood were so amazing that as an adult there was nothing that could match that. It got so bad in my early 30’s that my mother gave me a Christmas ornament, the only one I owned, of the Grinch. I never put up a tree but I would faithfully hang the Grinch in my apartment, some place prominently as if to say, “yes, I hate Christmas, what are you gonna do about it?”
I had a number of break ups that occurred right around the Christmas holidays. My first ever break up was on April Fool’s Day. It went something like this: “It’s over,” “April Fool’s, right babe?”, “Uh, no”. Awkward. But after that first break up, for reasons unclear my break ups usually happened over the holidays. My friend Lou always said, “break up before the holidays Pappy, no gifts to have to buy,” but that was Lou’s thing, not mine.
Christmas was just hard for me from my late teens until my mid 30’s. When I met the Rock Chick, as fate or perhaps karma would have it, she was Mrs. Claus. There is not a Christmas tradition she hasn’t embraced. Home made egg nog, holiday baking, and I think there are 3 trees in the house, all decorated. At one point during the decorating process the cats had more glitter on them than most strippers I’ve seen. Around the early time of knowing the Rock Chick I had a clarifying Christmas moment, that I’ll write about in a different post that turned my attitude around. To this day I still don’t know what the 12 days of Christmas are. I get Christmas and Christmas Eve, but what are the other 10? I think this year may have shed some light on this for me – one of them has to be Frank Sinatra’s Birthday 12/12 and the other has to be Keith Richards’ Birthday 12/18. But that still leaves eight days that are undefined for me.
In one of the Bond films, the evil villain, Blofeld, realizes he’s been duped and an important cassette he needs to activate his world-destroying laser has been switched out with a recording of the British Army Band playing some battle tune. Blofeld looks out at the horizon, as the awful military marching band plays, and says, cigarette holder clinched in his teeth,”I do so hate martial music…” in a resigned very British tone. That’s how I feel about Christmas music, well without the cigarette holder. I don’t smoke. It’s everywhere. You can’t go any place without hearing Christmas music, traditional or pop recordings, playing in the background. Even in some bars I used to hang around in. I believe it’s a plot to annoy me like drivers who talk on their cell phone while driving.
However, there is a small list of songs that even I, a hardened Christmas Grinch, actually like. There is a small handful of tunes that I’ve gathered on a playlist that I believe my old playlist pal Nancy would be proud of. Whenever I can, I slip this onto the stereo vs listening to Mariah Carey caterwauling or James Taylor attempting to lull me into a coma. These songs are by respected rock veterans, and I can actually get through this list of songs without retching.
So, without further adieu, these songs comprise my Xmas Playist for Those Who Hate Christmas Music:
- The Kinks, “Father Christmas”, a real rocker that subversively is a complaint about the commercialism surrounding Christmas.
- Elvis Presley, “Blue Christmas”, this may be the greatest Christmas song of all time. There is only 1 King in my house and his name is Elvis.
- Elvis Presley, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, again, give me Elvis over Bing Crosby or Perry Como any and every day.
- John Lennon, “So This Is Christmas (War is Over), yeah I’m a softy for songs about Peace. Who knew I’d feel this way?
- Bob Dylan, “Must Be Santa”, this one is just crazy. I laugh every time this comes on and the wife immediately rushes to the stereo to hit the “skip” button.
- Band Aid, “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, I was around in the 80’s when this came out and it still hits home with me. It’s about giving to the needy. This seems to encapsulate the real meaning of Christmas, “the giving season”.
- Paul McCartney, “Wonderful Christmastime”. John Lennon was on the playlist and it’s always nice to balance him out with some Paul. They’re so yin and yang.
- Elton John, “Step Into Christmas”, It’s upbeat and it’s Elton, what’s not to love.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Deck the Halls”, this one is hard to find, but it’s on the “Out In L.A.” greatest hits compilation. They forget the lyrics half way through the song.
- Eddie Vedder & Mike McCready, “Let Me Sleep (It’s Christmas Time), Eddie Vedder could sing names from a phone book with McCready strumming a guitar in the background and I’d still listen.
- Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Christmas All Over Again”, from the superb “Special Christmas”series.
- The Eagles, “Please Come Home For Christmas” b/w “Funky New Year”, the first song all longing, the second song a great song for a hangover. “My hair hurts” is my favorite line in this song. We’ve all been there.
- AC/DC, “Mistress For Christmas”, a hard rock Xmas song, who’d have thought?
- Bruce Springsteen, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”, I still love this song. I had it on a vinyl single from the “Born In the USA” era.
- Train, “Shake Up Christmas”, I’m not a huge Train fan, but the wife turned me onto this little ditty. Catchy as hell.
- Paul Simon, “Getting Ready For Christmas Day”, love the loop of the old time preacher in the background. Simon sings about a nephew in Afghanistan for Christmas.
- Bruce Springsteen, “Merry Christmas Baby”, I first bought this song on a vinyl 12″ single. It was the B-side, the A-side was “Incident on 57th St” which was an outtake from the Live 1975-1985 album. Bootleg? I’m not sure.
- U2, “Baby Please Come Home”, is there anything U2 sings that isn’t full on passion?
- Lindsay Buckingham, “Holiday Road”, from the movie Christmas Vacation, which we watch every year on Xmas day.
- No Doubt, “Oi To the World”, every playlist has to have a weird song on it and this one is it.
Put it on, turn it up and enjoy that egg nog people. Happily I just found out egg nog has bourbon in it.