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Music for a better Christmas
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By Jonas Beals
AFTER STUFFING MYSELF with turkey and carbs on Thanksgiving, there's only one thing I want to do: listen to holiday music.
After a couple hours of that, there's only one thing I want to do: pour Pepto-Bismol in my ear holes.
Most of us prefer our holiday music in small doses, not because of its cloying, treacly sweetness, but because there is surprisingly little variety. How many half-baked versions of "Silent Night" can you stand before you're asking Santa for early-onset presbycusis?
The whole situation is maddening. There is a literal Yule-load of holiday music, and the pile grows higher every year. So why do those cute 24/7 holiday stations only seem to have two hours of music, and why does every singer du jour feel the need to record the exact same holiday songs that have been recorded--I counted--a zillion times?
Don't fall for their tricks this year. There are thousands of unique, hilarious, deranged and misguided holiday songs just waiting to stuff your ear holes with coal and sticks. (Do you even know how much coal is worth?) Here are a few of the best:
"Maury, the Christmas Mouse" by Rodd Rogers
I've written before about "song-poems," odd recordings that happen when hopeful poets send their "lyrics" and cash to a scheming musician, who then turns the poem into an actual recorded song. The excellent documentary "Off the Charts" explains and explores the process. This is such a song-poem, and like the best of them, it combines familiar holiday musical themes with the completely psychotic ravings of a mental patient. It also has the added kick of the creepy processed vocals from my favorite 1969 IHOP television ad. This song is from the must-own compilation "Daddy, Is Santa Really Six Foot Four?" It's a gift that keeps on giving.
"I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas" by Yogi Yorgensen
Comedian Harry Stewart (Yogi) scored a couple huge holiday hits in 1949, riding a tidal wave of anti-Swedish sentiment to the top of the charts. They can't pronounce J's!
"Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)" by John Denver
The real surprise is that this isn't a song-poem, although it was co-written by someone named Taffy Nivert (yep, from Starland Vocal Band). Pretty self-explanatory, although it's unclear whether daddy is strictly a Christmas drunk, which sounds kinda fun.
"Little Drummer Boy/Silent Night/Auld Lang Syne" by Jimi Hendrix
It's not as inspired or as skillful as his take on the National Anthem, but he really did toy with these holiday classics as instrumentals in the studio in 1969.
"Little Girl Blue" by Nina Simone
A sad, lonely song written by Rodgers and Hart for the musical "Jumbo" that Simone set against the music of the popular carol "Good King Wenceslas." The effect is chilling, and captures the forlorn feeling many people deal with at the holidays.
"Have a Silly Christmas" by Silly Nelson and the Cop Cars
I have no idea who Silly Nelson is, but this song is a plea for the most important gift this Christmas season: rock. Shove that up your stocking!
Jonas Beals: 540/368-5036
JONAS' IN-TOWN PICK: 'Band Together to Fight Hunger' at Mountain View High School in Stafford. Musicians from all five Stafford high schools join forces to play music and help fight hunger. Bring a nonperishable food item to get in. Monday at 5:30 p.m. OUT-OF-TOWN PICK: Scott Miller & Rayna Gellert at Ashland Coffee & Tea in Ashland. Miller is one of the greatest singer-songwriters you will ever see. Saturday at 8 p.m. LISTENING TO: "Santa Claus and His Old Lady" by Cheech & Chong. There's always room for a classic.