These are the messages that have been posted on inthe00s over the past few years.
Subject: Troublesome Christmas Songs
Written By: Michael P on 12/24/05 at 7:02 pm
This is probably a subject you've seen before, but it's my views, so ya better watch out, ya better not cry, ya better not pout, I'm tellin' ya why: Because I said so!
Have you ever noticed how some Christmas songs are somewhat inappropriate? In fact, some of them aren't even Christmas songs!
"Jingle Bells" is the most popular Christmas song. Q: How many times does the word "Christmas" appear in in "Jingle Bells"? Or the word "Jesus"? Or the word "God"? Or the words "Santa Claus"? Or any reference either to Jesus or to Santa Claus/St. Nicholas or to Christmas itself? A: Zero. Not only that... "Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh"? How do you know? Who among us has ever actually ridden in a one-horse open sleigh? If you have, tell us: Is it fun?
Also not mentioning Christmas, Jesus or even Santa Claus at all: "Winter Wonderland," "Sleigh Ride," "Let It Snow," "Marshmellow World," "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," "Frosty the Snowman." While the cartoon special about Frosty (who was voiced by Jackie Vernon, with a toon-ized Jimmy Durante as the narrator, ah-cha-cha-cha!) was centered around Christmas, the original song has nothing to do with the holiday. At least "The Bells of St. Mary's" has a religious theme, sort of, and the Bing Crosby-Ingrid Bergman film for which is was written was set during the Christmas season. (Still, Ingrid as a nun? What a waste... of what a waist, among other things. She was the Catherine Zeta-Jones of her time, if I can give you my opinion for Christmas.)
As for songs that actually are about Christmas:
"Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." It opens, "You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why." Considering how generous and -- dare I say it -- liberal Santa is, that's a pretty authoritarian introduction! But it gets more authoritarian: "He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake." Is that Santa Claus or "Big Brother"?
"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." It doesn't occur to the kid that "Santa Claus" is, in this case, Daddy. That's the point of the song. Apparently, it also doesn't occur to the kid that Mommy is kissing someone who, as far as the kid knows, isn't Daddy, and that there's something wrong with that. And if the kid was a little older, he'd have to wonder if there was more than kissing and (as the song mentions) tickling going on. Of course, Mommy would not, in such a case, be getting coal in her Christmas stocking. What she actually would be getting, we might be better off not knowing. We'd be drifting into the material of Johnny D, maybe Malcolm Higgins, maybe even (dare I say it?) Merry & Pippin! And that's not what we usually mean when we say "Merry Christmas"!
"Here Comes Santa Claus." "He doesn't care if you're rich or poor, he loves you just the same. Santa knows we're all God's children, that makes everything right." So despite lines like "Hang your stockings and say your prayers" and "Let's give thanks to the Lord Above"... not to mention his origins as St. Nicholas, early Christian bishop... Santa Claus is a flaming liberal! Take that, you "war on Christmas" spouters!
"Boogie-Woogie Santa Claus." "The Boogie-Woogie Santa, boogie all your blues away!" Has the Big Guy got time to boogie-woogie in December? He's kinda busy, what with all the making of lists and checking 'em twice.
On the other hand, "Little Saint Nick" by the Beach Boys is a terrific one. If you needed any more proof that Brian Wilson is a genius, this guy from Southern California does a song about a guy at the North Pole who "tricks out" his sleigh as if it's a hot rod! Not to mention throwing in the line, "Run, run, reindeer!"
Ah, yes, "the most famous reindeer of all."
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." The subject of my first-ever Amiright parody, "Rudolph the Blue-Chip Halfback," December 3, 2002. Anyway, "All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names, they never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games." Then Santa needs Rudolph to save Christmas. "Then how the reindeer loved him." The phrase "fair-weather friends" is ironic in this case, but I would've told 'em, "I did it for Santa, and I did it for the kids, but the rest of you can kiss my nose! Where were you when I was nobody? Ya bums!"
"Run, Run, Rudolph" by Chuck Berry. Actually one of the Chucker's better songs, at least in terms of musicianship. I especially like the version by the all-female band (I don't know which one) in which it's the girl who asks Santa for the guitar and the boy who asks for the doll. Except... "Tell him he can take the freeway down." Now, this is in character for Chuck, since he celebrated modern American things like freeways. But why does Santa need the freeway? He's got a flying sleigh! And Chuck recorded this song, as with most of his hits, at the Chess Records studio on South Michigan Avenue in Chicago. The South Side. You ever been on the Dan Ryan Expressway on the South Side? (It goes right past the White Sox ballpark.) If Santa got on that on Christmas Eve, he might finish delivering presents to Chicagoland right around Valentine's Day!
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." First sung by Judy Garland in the 1944 film "Meet Me In St. Louis." I don't know what made her a queer icon, but it could be the words, "Make the Yuletide gay." That word will come up later, hopefully funnier. Hopefully.
"White Christmas." Once the most-bought single in history, still surpassed only by "Rock Around the Clock" and the Princess Diana version of "Candle In the Wind." But while it wasn't exactly evocative of a problem that most Americans had on their minds when it came out in 1942, the idea that Christmas had to be "white" become a sticking point during the civil rights era -- never mind that the Clyde McPhatter-era Drifters (1955), Darlene Love (1963) and Al Green (1972) all did terrific versions.
"The Most Wonderful Time of the Year." "There'll be scary ghost stories." Uh, wrong holiday, Andy Williams!
"Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" by John Lennon, "A Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney. Who would've guessed that John, who expressed atheistic sympathies in his later song "Imagine," would write such a fantastic Christmas song, and Paul, the ultimate sentimentalist, would write such a lousy one? Though I'm not surprised that George Harrison's holiday offering, "Ring Out the Old, Ring in the New" refers to New Year's Day rather than Christmas.
"Feliz Navidad" by Jose Feliciano. Talk about "Second verse, same as the first." It gets incredibly monotonous after a while. He should've written more verses.
"The Twelve Days of Christmas." Where are you gonna get a pear tree, never mind a partridge, during the Christmas season? Never mind 12 of them. And all those gifts are gonna be pretty expensive. Let's face it, who has enough milk-producing cows that their true love has to give them 40 maids a'milking? (On the 8th through 12th days, add 'em up.) Where are you gonna put all those birds? (Turtledoves, French hens, calling birds, geese, swans.) And do you really wanna give your true love "Ten lords a-leaping"? They might end up "leaping" her. And she might like it. Again, we're getting into WhatFreaks territory here.
"I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday." No you don't! You'd have to give gifts every day. Even if you have the money for it (unlikely), where are you gonna buy 'em? Forgive me, Led Zeppelin fans, but... When you get there, you'll know that the stores all are closed, and no word lets you get what you came for!
"We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Have you ever had figgy pudding? I haven't. I have no idea if it's the kind of thing you'd want someone to bring you on Christmas.
Then there's actual Christmas carols.
One of my favorites is "Do You Hear What I Hear." "Says the shepherd boy to the mighty king, 'Do you know what I know? A child, a child shivers in the cold. Let us bring him silver and gold.'" A great song except for the way that verse ends. Uh, tell me, shepherd boy, what's he gonna do with silver and gold? Never mind his later comments about how hard it is for rich men to get into heaven and his extraction of the money-lenders from the temple, if he's shivering in the cold, what he really needs is a blanket or two!
"The First Noel." "Certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay." Here's where modern English and the form written and spoken at the time tend to clash. To us, that word "lay" sticks out like a sore, uh, thumb. Which leads to...
"Deck the Halls." Another that doesn't even mention the word "Christmas," although it uses the word "Yule," which has become synonymous with the day. But... "Don we now our gay apparel"? Never mind that we usually don't use "don" as a verb meaning "put on clothes," there's that word "gay." At the time, fine, it meant "happy" or even "joyous." Today, the words "Don we now our gay apparel" brings up images of "A Queer Eye Christmas." Carson Kressley in a pink Santa suit! (Hey, he wore a pink Red Sox jersey when he made over Johnny (New Yankee) Damon and Kevin "I am now gay!" Millar.)
"The Little Drummer Boy." As far as I know, this one was first written in 1958, making it a little young for a "Christmas carol." The last verse says, "The ox and ass kept time." Putting aside the archaic vs. modern use of the word "ass," isn't it the drummer's job to keep time, not the backing group's?
Oh well. I guess I'd better (awful pun alert) wrap this up. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.