Great Gifts of Song: Three More Great Christmas Songs

So, last week saw a follow-up to last year’s bad Christmas song list. Now, like last year, we’ve come to the flip-side. After all, why would I dedicate a joyous celebration to nothing but the coal that was dumped in our stockings. This is Christmas, damn it. So let’s have some fun.

Christmas is A-Comin’ – Bing Crosby

It just doesn’t feel like Christmas until one of the old crooners shows up at the party.

This one is a new favorite that I just learned of this year. Here, Bing spins the tale of a lone beggar on the streets shortly before Christmas and how, despite his situation, he still manages to be one of the happiest and friendliest men in town; wishing well to others far better off than himself.

This is a happy little tune that manages to put you outside of your own head space to consider others without shaming the listener or painting the less fortunate as pathetic. You’d think that a concept like that would be a no-brainer, but you’d never know it from other Christmas songs like Do They Know It’s Christmas (Don’t worry – Band Aid’s time will come next year).

Christmas In Killarney – The Irish Rovers

Here’s a little treat for those who, like me, are of proud Irish descent.

You never really think of it, but it’s surprisingly easy to forget that Christmas isn’t celebrated just at your home. That said, other homes around the world have their own little touches that make them special and leave us wondering what it’s like on the other side of the ocean.

I like this one for both the pleasant reminder of my own heritage as well as the reminder to think more globally this year.

Now, it’s true that our friend Bing from earlier in this article did this song as well and that version seems to get more radio play. But, in my opinion, you absolutely need to hear The Irish Rovers’ take. There’s just something about having a few of the local boys do it in their style that feels more organic and natural.

Christmas All Over Again – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

I think Tom Petty may rank as one of my favorite singer/songwriters of all time. So it comes as no surprise that his contribution to the Christmas arts would make my personal ‘Nice’ list.

Even if I didn’t love Tom, this is a great song. There aren’t any of the overly lavish bells and whistles of most Christmas tracks – no cheesy synthesizers, no obnoxiously loud bells, just a simple sing-along about all of the stuff we look forward to on the holidays.

In that regard, it’s also the most honest song about Christmas as well. It’s not dripping with sickeningly sweet shmaltz nor is it bitterly pessimistic about holiday stressors. It simply tells it like it is; which, in my mind, has always been Tom’s best quality.

Also, I can’t deny that hearing Tom read off his wish list at the end puts a smile on my face every time I hear it.

Advertisements

Return of the Crappy Carols: Three More Terrible Christmas Songs

Last year, I gave you a short list of songs attached to the Christmas season that are guaranteed to kill my holiday spirit. However, if you thought that was all I had, prepare yourselves for another unfortunate lump of coal in your stocking. I have three more tinsel covered turds to ruin the mood.

Honestly, I’m not trying to ruin the holiday for anyone. But, if I can reach at least one musician and convince them to not pump out dreck like this, than that makes Christmas that much more merry for all of us. That said, let’s begin.

The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) – Alvin and The Chipmunks

Good lord, I hate The Chipmunks. I hated them before it was cool to hate them. Hell, I hated them before it was cool to LIKE them.

It’s not hard to understand why I despise them so deeply. With their halfhearted covers of classic pop tunes sped up to a dog whistle-like tone, they’re the unholy union of Kids Bop and Auto Tune that physically hurts me to listen to. And when I say “physically hurts me”, I mean no exaggeration, stomach-souring, eye-twitching, muscle-spasm-inducing pain.

All of these problems are on display in this song. In fact, this one is made all the worse by being an original song as opposed to a cover; showing how terrible the writing is without the guidance of another.

What’s more, it has nothing meaningful to give us. It’s just three ‘kids’ talking about the toys that they want for Christmas with no regard for the joy of giving. Is my life really enriched by a song promoting the already over-hyped commercialism of the holiday? No, of course not.

It’s not the most offensive song – Christmas or otherwise – but it IS one of the few that drive me to such irrational rage that it makes me want to beat some unfortunate soul to death with some other unfortunate soul’s body.

Fairytale Of New York – The Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl

This is supposed to be charming?

I really don’t get how this one ever got popular. It’s not happy, it has nothing to do with the values that we attach to Christmas, and it seems to go out of it’s way to be as mean spirited as possible.

This is one of those songs that could never be made today, but the fact that it was made with Christmas in mind while telling its bitter story and using its more ‘colorful’ language is absolutely mind-boggling to me regardless of the time in which it was made.

I really don’t think I need to justify my hate very much here, so I’m not going to comment on it any further. I would say that all you need to do is hear the song for yourself to understand, but that would require you to actually listen to it and I’m not that cruel.

The Christmas Shoes – NewSong

Okay, before we get too deep into this, I want to make it clear that this isn’t about “the Christ in Christmas.” I could sit here and rattle off how practically everything about this holiday was taken from some other celebration and that it has no place in modern Christianity, but pretending that means anything in this context a load of crap and we all know it. The fact is that everyone, regardless of faith, has the right to celebrate whenever, however, and for whatever reason they please as long as it’s not disruptive to the lives of others.

Are we clear?… Good, because this is the worst piece of music to crawl out of the gutters of the Contemporary Christian genre.

I guess this is just one of those songs that you need to say your prayers every night to appreciate, but it just sits wrong with me. I have to imagine that, if I were a devout Christian, I would be highly offended by the idea that The Great I Am would be so cold as to commit the premeditated and painfully slow murder of my mother and tell me to make my last act of love making sure she’s wearing a sweet new pair of Chuck Taylors when she gets to the pearly gates so he can use me to teach some wrinkled, rusted, rural country scrooge the true meaning of Christmas.

It wants so badly to be an uplifting message about love, kindness, and charity, but it just comes off as needlessly dark and depressing. And on a day that should be happy (and is often already depressing enough with the difficulties of shopping), I just don’t want it around me.