With no new releases to speak of last week, we decided to cover Christmas songs instead.
So despite my vast and inherent Scrooge-like propensities, considering there are some great song of the season, perhaps it would be fun to cover the best yuletide carols ever created.
No Christmas season is complete without listening Eartha Kitt sultrily singing that wonderful ode to holiday avarice, Santa Baby. A mink coat, convertible and a yacht? Now there’s a woman who knows what she wants!
Though the song has been covered and re-covered, nothing can compare to Kitt’s interpretation. I still get wistful when I think of her passing in 2008.
When you consider of Christmas duets, what’s the first that comes to mind? That’s right! Baby It’s Cold Outside. Though I love the Dean Martin/Andrews Sisters rendition, when indie queen Liz Phair team up with Wheat to record that standard, they hit the ball right out of the musical park.
The problem is this amazing interpretation was only released on a 12-inch vinyl single that’s nearly impossible to find these days. Don’t even think about trying iTunes.
For anyone who shares my anti-Christmas disposition and warped seasonal sensibilities, the Pogues’ Fairytale of New York always hits the spot. The soft and sweet intro makes you think you’re about to hear another sentimental Christmas song, but then the ostensibly married couple tear into each other like monkeys on a cupcake.
What other Christmas carol contains the lyrics, “You’re a bum, you’re a punk, you’re an old slut on junk” and “Happy Christmas your #$@, I pray God it’s our last.” It makes me teary eyed just thinking about it.
Buster Poindexter’s Zat You Santa Claus always puts me in a good mood. And the fact that Buster is the alter ego of New York Dolls frontman David Johansen makes want to laugh even more. There’s something inherently mirthful about an artist going from proto-punk to lounge and calypso singer in one fell swoop.
Next, we have the only Christmas carol that could’ve made it into Pulp Fiction: the Killers' Don’t Shoot Me Santa. Our protagonist, who’s “been killing just for fun,” explains that he’s been picked on all his life and begs Santa, who has “a bullet in his gun,” not to return the favor.
Despite my obvious tendency toward the more depraved holiday melodies, though I can’t quite explain it, I’ve always loved Jose Feliciano’s Feliz Navidad. But please don’t tell anyone because I don’t want to ruin my hard-earned reputation.
I’d be remiss if I failed to mention Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms, a peppy Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Bruce Springsteen and the E. Street Band, Happy Christmas (The War is Over) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and Sir Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmas Time.
Ah! But when it comes to choosing my absolute favorite yuletide ditty, we have a tie!
My sons have been warning me that if I insist upon singing Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer at every possible opportunity, they’re leaving for good. So I keep on singing it in case they’re actually serious.
You can have your White Christmases and songs about scarlet reindeer snouts, but nothing can put me in the spirit of the season quite like Elmo and Patsy’s ballad of a hit and run Saint Nick. You’ve gotta love any family that, when faced with a missing grandmother, their main concern is whether to open her gifts or send them back.
And a lesser known but no less humorous song is Sled Zeppelin by Seattle area DJ extraordinaire, Bob Rivers. Sung to the tune of Led Zeppelin’s D’yer Mak’er, it’s absolutely fricken’ hilarious. “Oh, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, dashing through the snow … ”
It can’t possibly get any more Christmassy than that one. Though Sled Zeppelin is also out of print, you can hear it right here on YouTube.
If the Christmas season tends to get you down, just put on some Bob Rivers and you’ll be good to go.
In light of the FCC fairness doctrine, for my readers of the Hebrew persuasion, SNL alum Adam Sandler’s The Chanukah Song is certainly worth repeated listening. Only Sandler could come up with a meaningful rhyme for “harmonica.”
My favorite Christmas album you ask? That’s easy! by all the local Made in Aurora artists you’ve come to know and love.
Yes! The Rev. Cinchy Pickens is back. Kevin Trudo is back. And Dick Smith (the group) is back with Nativity songs like Dollar Store Christmas, Christmas in Jail (Ain’t That a Pain), Hard Candy Christmas and Gold Front Tooth.
Since last summer’s Made in Aurora vinyl release went over so well, KTS owner Steve Warrenfeltz got the boys and girls back together to create this 16-song Christmas carol compilation that you just won’t hear anywhere else.
Available primarily at Kiss The Sky, this gatefold double LP (CD included) can be yours for the astoundingly low price of $24.98. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, a portion of the proceeds will go to the .
You better get yours soon because the limited 500-piece run is selling out as we speak. With this album on my turntable, it might just be a merry Christmas after all.
Next week we’ll finally get to local artist Noah Gabriel’s amazing Ghosts of Tomorrow and the Black Keys latest, El Camino, is something I’m really looking forward to.
So until next week, you’ll probably find me rifling through the bins of used vinyl at Kiss The Sky in hopes of finding those rare and out of print Christmas songs.