I don’t remember that I grew up with a lot of Christmas/holiday music around our house. I do remember that we had a copy of the classic “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.” Remember that one? And that album cover? Why that song didn’t last the test of time I shall never know.
But obviously it doesn’t matter if you celebrate Christmas intentionally, we are a Christmas nation and we are all going to know the lyrics by heart of Hark the Herald Angels Sing, whether we like it or not. I have the added advantage (disadvantage?) of having been in school choir my whole childhood, so I know more Christmas songs than anyone really has any business knowing. We had Christmas songs up the ying yang from November through the end of the year, half of which I don’t even really know what they mean. There was this one song that we sang in Middle English and shit, talking about the “apple takey ben.” What the hell is that? (And please, don’t write to me to actually tell me what all of these reference do mean. If I really had wanted to know by now, I would have looked it up). And there was this other song called “Torches” about running with torches to Bethlehem. In my kid-mind I always pictured that like an Olympics style torch runner, running for Jesus, or something. I didn’t know, we didn’t discuss these things, since it was public school. We sang it, who cares if we understood it? Or maybe this is something everyone else just gets? I don’t know. We also sang this one song about keeping your lamps trimmed and burning because the time is drawing nigh. Um, ok. That sounds like an old timey Martha Stewart tip rather than a spiritual song. We also sang the Dreidel Song, and other Hannukah songs. The one I remember most was “Light the Candles.” I liked that one. It was peppy. And we got to yell “HEY!” at the end, and how can you go wrong with that? There was another one about Emmanuel, who apparently was a ransom captive in Israel. Intrigue! And also, what are we even talking about? And don’t even get me started on the shit we sang in straight up Latin.
Can you tell I am not a Biblical scholar? You are shocked, I can see it in your face.
Anyway, every holiday season, there is holiday wintery music that I do like, most of it coming from the likes of Doris Day and Dean Martin and such, with maybe some Duke Ellington thrown in. But that lasts, unfortunately, for about a week. Then even I, lover of oldies, become totally SATURATED. How many times can I hear Baby It’s Cold Outside? A lot. A whole lot. And Judy Garland, I love you, really I do, but I have a cap on how many times a year I can hear your boozy weepy Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas before I want to do myself an injury.
I think this has less to do with Grinchy-ness and more to do with monotony. It’s the same feeling I get when I have had the same leftovers for too long, or when I get stuck in a rut watching the same type of movie all the time. It wears me out before I even know it’s wearing me out. I just need to mix it up, that’s all. Throw something else in there. Please.
In that spirit, I made myself a December playlist. It’s super long, so I won’t bore you with the whole thing, but I thought maybe you are feeling weary of holiday standards at this point as well. And even if you’re not, these are still good songs. Here they are. Some are Christmas songs, some are wintery songs, some are just songs that sound wintery to my ears. Since it’s the 23rd of December, I’ll do 23 songs.
The Sonics, Santa Claus
(come on, I had to start out with a Grinchy one)
Fleet Foxes, White Winter Hymnal
(another song that I don’t know what they are even talking about, and I don’t really want to know)
Fountains of Wayne, Man in the Santa Suit
(I used to work in a mall. This song reminds me of that).
The Waitresses, Christmas Wrapping
(a classic, right?)
James Brown, Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto
(I think that every holiday should give you a reason to say “HAH!” with James Brown)
Florence + the Machine, Last Christmas
(Doing a Wham! cover is always ok in my book)
Loretta Lynn, To Heck With Ole Santa Claus
(“when he goes dashin’ through the snow I hope he falls.” Harsh!)
Common Market, Winter Takes All
(had to put a Seattle band in)
Harvey Danger, Sometimes You Have To Work on Christmas
(another Seattle one, I love the video of the Seattle scenes)
Jenny O., Get Down for the Holidays
(Dang Target, you made a good holiday playlist)
Ryan Adams, Hey Parker, It’s Christmas
(Good song, Mrs. Mandy Moore)
My Morning Jacket, Christmas Time is Here Again
(The original Beatles version is of course better, but this one is good too)
The The, December Sunlight
(I got my heart broken bad in December one time, and this song makes me feel happy, in an I Got Through That sort of way)
New Kids on the Block, Funky Funky Christmas
(Holy smokes, this is SO BADAWESOME)
Trentemoller, While the Cold Winter is Waiting
(Good for cold winter walks)
Magnetic Fields, Everything is One Big Christmas Tree
(ain’t it the truth)
Regina Spektor, My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year)
(If you still want it to sound classic, even when it ain’t)