Christmas My Way: Bad Tidings

I’ve already said that I love Christmas Music. Yeah, I really do. And of course, I even love the bad ideas and silly recordings, the ones that will make you wish for coal in my stocking. So, here are some truly silly Christmas songs. Try not to sing along:

First up, ELTON JOHN recorded a Christmas single in the 70’s called STEP INTO CHRISTMAS which has become traditional despite being just an OK recording. However, true Christmas cheer can be found on the flipside, a little ditty that sounds like it was recorded on the fly after a very long night of drinking. It’s called HO-HO-HO (WHO’D BE A TURKEY AT CHRISTMAS)

BEN FOLDS is one of my favorite musicians and he has a sometimes very unique and slightly skewed music style. He showed that in this song called BIZARRE CHRISTMAS INCIDENT.

Be warned. This has some language and is NSFW (Not Safe For Work).

Here you go.

Now, it would be too easy to attack the JINGLE DOGS and the JINGLE CATS. No one really expected quality music out of them. What you may not realize it that way back in the 70’s, it had already been done by an assemblage known as the SINGING DOGS.

From the world of Saturday Night Live comes this odd version of SILVER BELLS sung by Paul Simon, spoken word by Steve Martin, and reportedly Billy Joel on Piano.

The Sixties had a minor run of “Drop-in” records, which were comedy records that consisted of situations and questions that were answered by brief segments of popular records. SANTA AND THE SATELLITE was done by the king of these recordings, BUCHANAN AND GOODMAN

THE BEATLES used to release a recording just to their fan club members each holiday from 1963-1969. They started out as just fun banter sitting around a microphone into elaborate Monty Python style recordings. This is their 1967 recording, with the song CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE AGAIN.

Beatles sound-alikes THE RUBBER BAND (also known as THE BEATMAS) recorded Christmas songs in the Beatles style. Here is the Taxman-influenced RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER.

There. I made it through without pure treacle like THE CHRISTMAS SHOES and GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY A REINDEER.

However, I want to leave you with one of my favorite Christmas novelty records, by the great satirist STAN FREBERG: “Christmas Dragnet”

iTuned In Or Out: It’s My Music And I’ll Sing If I Want To.

OK, I admit it. While my musical tastes run all over the place, the place they run could probably use a little dusting.

Don’t get me wrong. I think most of my music loves and choices are great and will stand the test of time. The rest, well, they are my musical choices, and tough if you don’t like them.

However, that last paragraph contains the phrase “stand the test of time”, and that is really a concept that I can have a lot of trouble getting my musical chops around. After all, to paraphrase the group CHICAGO (or if you are really really ancient like me, you might know them as CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY): “Does anybody really know WHOSE time it is?”.

Having come of age during the mid 60’s and 1970’s, those musical memories are going to be my main ones. More than any other time, a song from that period can be accompanied by a memory from that time in my life. There were so many new things to learn, and so many things to influence that learning, that it cannot be avoided that this period, at least for me, would remain vibrant throughout my life.

Add in the fact that my musical tastes were formed at a time when music itself was undergoing a massive sea-change, with Rock And Roll giving way to Rock (and it’s various genres), bubblegum and folk,  R and B gaining massive acceptance as Soul and Blues, and your parents music being christened as “outdated” even though much of it was less than 20 years old.

Be it the post WWII years, the baby boom of the 50’s and 60’s, the fight for civil and personal rights, or whatever reason, the progression of music mirrored that massive human changes of the 60’s. You can point to dozens of musical milemarkers from that time, from the arrival of THE BEATLES, to the move of AMERICAN BANDSTAND to the West Coast, to Woodstock, to the breakup of THE BEATLES. There is a reason so much of this music remains vital today.

However, this blog post is about MY music. Yes, there were momentous world events, but many of them were still seen by me through the eyes of a child. The Vietnam War raged while I was still in grade school. Kennedy was assassinated when I was in second grade (though I can honestly say that I remember where I heard the news. I was in my classroom at Our Lady Of Lourdes and the announcement  came over the loudspeaker). The Civil Rights struggle was seen on black and white TV, but still, I was very young. Again, the Vietnam War would not really affect me until 1973, when I turned 18 and my birthday drew a high number in the lottery (269).

So, this music becomes part of those memories, both personal and worldly, and definitely part of what I am today. So, when I look at my CD collection (yes, I still have a CD collection and yes, I love it), and look at what is on my radio dial, I realize that I can be perceived as living in the past. I dispute that. I simply remember the past, as all of us do, though triggers and touchstones.

Now, getting back to the original jumping off point, I am always willing to give new music a listen. After all, so much of it is influenced by what has gone first, or at least the ones that I like. In addition, my musical tastes do change as my world does. When I was a kid, jazz was a total unknown. Then, little by little, jazz/rock music started to change that, starting with BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS, and eventually growing into a true love of classic jazz. I also love discovering the current artists who keep this music alive, updating it without upsetting it, like JAMIE CULLUM, MARK RAPP, MICHAEL BUBLE, and SACHAL VASANDANI.

As I admitted earlier, I own CD’s, I love CD’s, I buy CD’s, and I mourn the loss of the experience of physically browsing in a good CD shop and watching what others were interested in. Sorry, downloading and shopping on iTunes, for all the braggadocio about convenience, just isn’t the same. I do not want an algorithm telling me what I’ll like.

However, I do own an MP3 player, and now that I have an iPhone, I own an iPod, which I long resisted. I like the iPhone/iPod very much except that I HATE HAVING TO RELY ON THE ITUNES INTERFACE. HATE, HATE, HATE.

Enough hate. I have a Sony Vaio laptop, and it seems that iTunes has an issue with the Vaio computer checks that cause iTunes to drop my library out after a day or two, and I have to reload it, since the iPhone will only match up to the original library. That means time, and it also means I have to reload EVERYTHING onto my phone each time.

APPLE rant over.

Back to my musical tastes. My iPhone currently has 1700 songs on it. They run the gamut from classical to jazz to blues to country to what have you. Much of it is older, I admit. I even am guilty of having some very silly songs on there (MAHAMANA anyone?).  However, as I look at the list, I realize that, unlike my computer which lets me store 100’s of GB of music, my iPod is much more narrowly reflective of who I am, where I was, and where I hope to be. That means that every song is added because it means something to me. Yes, that means that, for better or worse, MAHAMANA means something to me.

I struggle to find new music that means the same to me. A lot of it starts out well on first listen, but doesn’t bear repeat listens. Others are simply not to my liking. Some make me wonder who the hell is actually listening to this crap. However, every so often, I find something new that works and keeps working. If you have suggestions, let me know. I am not a rock, but I won’t ever forget what has been there for me for so long.

That is why I have BARRY MANILOW alongside of THE BEATLES and JOHN COLTRANE and MADNESS and NIRVANA and BEN FOLDS and GREEN DAY and hundreds of others. They all are simply what I like, and like enough to share with othesr. They are simply where I’ve been, and that past will be part of me forever.

But, can I please have my CD stores back (and my video stores as well)?