Show #7: Tis The Season

Burrs

Ho ho ho! Boy did we have a fun-filled and festive show this morning.

I know it’s a festive time right now. Hanukkah just ended a few days ago and we have Christmas next week. But the reason I wanted to play a festive show today is in response to something else.

You see Planet Earth, tis the season for gift giving, so I’ve been out and about doing my Santa thing. And not even 10 seconds in a store reminds me why I usually shop online. No it’s not the crowds, the strollers, or the checkout lines, though those bug me too. It’s the Christmas music. I hate Christmas music. I hate it so much it’s literally one of my pet peeves.

Why? Well, look at like this. You’ve got 15, maybe 20 Christmas songs total. They’re so catchy and jolly they’re downright annoying. Then, you have unimaginative Pop and otherwise worthless “musicians,” I use that term loosely, who are covering these songs. Over, and over, and over.

Of course it all boils down to the big bucks. People love getting into the Christmas spirit and these albums really do sell. Yet they are the same songs, sang the same way, with Pop vocalists and cheesy background music. There’s nothing new between any of these albums except for the fact that they are covered by different terrible “artists.”

Now rattled your brain, oh dear Earth, and think about all of the worst “artists” ever, and yes, they all have Christmas albums. Do the big record company execs call up the artists in the fall and say, “Well, looks like we need to jump on the Christmas bandwagon this year.”

Sure you have some good ones, like Afroman’s A Colt 45 Christmas, but I’m being sarcastic, so that doesn’t count.

I wanted to make a list of all the worst Christmas songs and artists, but I literally got carpal tunnel from typing too many of them in this blog post.

So instead, I decided to list off all of the artists that are otherwise awesome, but have relinquished to releasin Christmas songs:

  •  Louis Armstrong
  • Nat King Cole
  • Chuck Berry
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Freddy King
  • The Beach Boys
  • B.B. King
  • The Supremes
  • James Brown
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Solomon Burke
  • The Beatles
  • Canned Heat
  • The O’Jays
  • John Lennon
  • Elton John
  • George Harrison
  • Jethro Tull
  • The Kinks
  • The Band
  • Paul McCartney
  • David Bowie
  • The Pretenders
  • George Thorogood
  • Queen
  • Prince
  • The Ramones
  • The Flaming Lips
  • Sting
  • The Smashing Pumpkins
  • Steve Winwood
  • The White Stripes

Now keep in mind, some of those songs weren’t really intended to be Christmas songs, like the ones by The Pretenders and The Flaming Lips. Also, some of those were released as songs for charity like The Smashing Pumpkins or for fan club specials like The Beatles. Still, singing Christmas Pop songs was kind of the way it was for some artists like Nat King Cole, and helped make him the legend he is today.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a lot of these artists wrote originals. Most of my beef is with the songs that are covered over and over, but I still tend to get annoyed when artists jump on the Christmas bandwagon.

Santa

So what do you think, Planet Earth? Since this is part of the conversations in music series, I wanted to bring the debate to you. Love it or hate it? Cheap money making ploy or festively genius? The playlist we rocked to today was meant to incite a conversation. I played all original songs by awesome artists that were related to the Christmas theme. A lot of the songs were great, since they’re by some awesome artists, while others seemed to teeter on the fence of forgettable Christmas music. I won’t tell you my opinion on any of the songs, because this is a conversation in music. So more importantly, tell me what you think. Drop me a line with the nifty “Contact” link directly above. Go on, do it!

  • “Christmas Eve Blues” – Blind Lemon Jefferson (1928)

You mean they had Christmas Eve all the way back then?

  • “On A Christmas Day” – Leadbelly (1944)

You mean they had Christmas Days way back then too?

  • “Christmas Blues” – Canned Heat (1968)

How can you have the blues on Christmas?

  • “Little Drummer Boy / Silent Night / Auld Lang Syne” – Jimi Hendrix (1969)

This to me is the epitome of selling out to make the big bucks. The Experience Hendrix label released this as a three song LP one Christmas year and I’m sure tons of Hendrix nuts bought it. I got it for Christmas one year…on CD! Since I love anything Hendrix, I couldn’t resist playing it.

  • “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” (1971)

Definitely the most popular song I played today, the Vietnam War protest song has since become a well known Xmas tune. I also like how Yoko Ono was given songwriting credits. I’m sure she just stared at John while he wrote it, which really shouldn’t count.

  • “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)” – The Ramones (1987)

This 1987 B-Side didn’t chart, but has since become popular, probably because it has “Merry Christmas” in the title. Either way, The Ramones rule, so it’s allowed.

  • “Christmas With The Devil” – Spinal Tap (1984)

The great thing about the first ever mockumentary is that Spinal Tap hit everything right on the mark. They know how to mock like pros, and that’s why the mid-eightees film is still hilarious today.

  • “Xmas Curtain” – My Morning Jacket (2001)

The only thing that makes this song any better is hearing it live. That’s pretty much the case with all of their songs actually.

  • “Snowed In” – Albert Collins (1980)

Nothing says White Christmas like the Iceman’s ice cold and stinging guitar solos.

  • “Winter Wonder Land” – Animal Collective (2007)

The only recognizable Christmas title in the playlist today, but doesn’t even remotely resemble the famous Christmas song.

  • “Holidays In The Sun” – The Sex Pistols (1977)

This Punk classic is about spending Christmas in Florida, right?

  • “Winterlong” – Neil Young (1977)

Neil’s rocking live jam is the perfect addition to any fun-filled holiday!

Well, I guess after jamming to all of those great tracks, I’m not so angry about Christmas music after all. In fact, I think I’m even in the festive spirit. Lots of great tunes, all great artists, and all better than “Santa Clause Is Coming To Town.” See Planet Earth, I’m not a grinch!

Hendrix

I hope you all have a great rest of the holiday season and enjoy time with kith and kin, or however the saying goes. Next week will be the most epic of all shows, as we tackle the year end best of lists for two full hours! I know, I’m excited to. Until then, Rock On Planet Earth.

Show #7 (Stream)

Show #7 (Download)

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2 Comments

  1. Steven Thompson

     /  December 19, 2012

    Great selection for those of us working retail and having to listen to this tripe by the bucket load. Loved MY Morning Jacket & the awesome Albert Collins guitar work. Would put in a plug for my personal fav – John Denver’s “Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas).

    Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed it there, Steve. I only have one album from John Denver that sadly doesn’t include that great track. Now that you mention it, please don’t get TOO drunk this Christmas…

      Reply

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