Anyway, here's my good friend Travis, who absolutely refused to pick one song, or even two, to write about. So here are his nine favorite Christmas songs, in no particular order.
1 - The Kinks - Father Christmas: Perhaps the best song addressing being without. The Kinks imagine what would happen if Santa really did go straight to the ghetto.
2 - Royal Guardsmen - Snoopy's Christmas: Sweet and awesome... it evokes the Christmas truces of WWI to paint the Baron as a softie. I think I'm still surprised by the "Merry Christmas, mein friend" every time... plus there is the fact that it is only one of two Christmas songs incorporating the sound of falling bombs as a contrast to the
peace of Xmas. The other one? Christmas at Ground Zero - Weird Al
3 - Eartha Kitt *ONLY* - Santa Baby: Few songs better taught you about the expectations for feminine behavior in the 50s than this song.
4 - Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home): The Darlene Love edition is
great... but beyond just being great, the song performance is an enduring tradition for me... I seek it out on Letterman every year I can (since 1993).
5 - John Lennon - Happy Xmas (War Is Over): There are a number of versions of this... but how can you ultimately choose anything other than the original with John and Yoko. In fact... the "merry christmas John, merry christmas Yoko" is probably the one thing Yoko ever did that has some artistic merit. It is a depressing song that always reminds me that I've let another years slip through my fingers... but it is also somewhat cathartic.
6 - The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping: A song about being lonely, finding someone, appreciating the season, and also how we let our intentions take a back seat to our actions towards the ones we love. Wrapped up in a fabulous 80s bow.
7 - Elvis Presley - Santa Claus Is Back in Town: In 1988, we acquired our first CD player... it was a high-end portable unit that had a battery problem, and my father took it in and repaired it. To test/use the player we bought 2 CDs - Great Cinema Soundtracks and the Elvis Christmas CD... I played "Santa Claus Is Back In Town" year round, and I still think it is one of the coolest, bluesiest songs of any genre.
8 - Elmo and Patsy - Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer: Yeah, I know it is obnoxious and overplayed... but I still love it. It has great lyrics, great timing, and a great story. If you really listen to it, we are talking about a song told from the point of view of a young child whose belief in Santa Claus is strengthened when his grandmother is brutally killed, likely by his grandfather, and the jolly old man is framed. In fact... the song deserves a sequel based on Dylan's "The Hurricane" called "The Santa Claus":
"...meanwhile in an east coast town,
Santa's sleigh of presents was flyin' around,
The greatest gift giver the world had ever known,
He had no idea his career was about to be blown..."
9 - Bob Rivers - The 12 Pains of Christmas: Classic, and I laugh out loud every
time they do the "Why the hell are they blinking?" line at the end.