Aerosmith, cats, Christmas, Christmas singles, crap records, Crystals, Eartha Kitt, Helter Skelter, Jingle Bells, Kylie minogue, Paul McCartney, reindeer, Rudolph, Santa Baby, Silent Night, Slade, Winter Wonderland, Wizzard
I’m not a big fan of Christmas, and I’m about to tell you one of the reasons. It’s not an obvious one such as rampant commercialism, though it’s best not to get me started on that. It’s not about the false bonhomie that abounds around this time. It’s not even about the fact that Christmas now seems to start in November. I know someone who genuinely put her tree up on November 1st. That’s with just under eight weeks to go, if my maths are correct.
I have to feel sorry for you people over in the US. You just get Thanksgiving over, and bugger me it’s time to start working at Christmas. You have my sympathies.
I want to talk about the barrage of Christmas music we’re subjected to. Whoever invented Christmas CDs has his own circle of hell awaiting. Local radio pumps out Christmas music as if the world’s about to end. Every shop (with the noble exception of my local Co-Op) is loud with seasonal stuff. Every rail station, every shopping mall, even most market stalls I hate it.
Let me make clear that I’m not talking about proper Christmas carols. Although I’m an atheist, even I can appreciate some of the religious carols. Silent Night is sublime, especially in the original German, a language I don’t, and don’t need to, understand.
But Jingle Bells sets my teeth on edge. Good King Wenceslas is merely irritating And what’s that one about figgy puddings? I can’t remember now, but I don’t like that either. Nor Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
My particular bête noir though are those trashy Christmas singles people put out in a cynical attempt at market skimming and to make a few extra bob or two. Here are my top three love to hates.
Merry Christmas, Everybody/Slade. I have the urge to kill when I hear this. I saw Slade in 1972 and they were a terrifically good fun glamrock band. It was a noisy evening, since the support band were Status Quo, who churned out their brand of heads-down-no-nonsense-mindless-boogie. So Slade were good. Then they turned out this piece of drivel, and I wanted to firebomb their studio. Without doubt the most irritating Christmas single of all time
I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day/Wizzard I disliked Wizzard a good deal before they recorded this piece of dreck. Every day? Why? Go on, tell me. Incidentally, there’s a guy lives not far from here, Billericay I think, who has taken this to its illogical extreme. He celebrates Christmas every day. The tree is always up, the lights are always on, he has presents every day, and has a full Christmas dinner every evening while wearing a cardigan and fluffy slippers. Curiously, he’s still single.
A Wonderful Christmas Time/Paul McCartney This from a man who screamed the vocals on Helter Skelter. This is such a terrifically good song that when I saw Aerosmith in the mid 70s, they used it to open their set because it was, and I quote ‘The greatest heavy rock track of all time.’ When Steve Tyler, Joe Perry, and the others reckon that, it’s worth paying attention. But the loathsome sugariness of A Wonderful Christmas Time makes my fillings itch.
Fair play, though. Some Christmas singles are worth a spin. Christmas Rapping/The Waitresses is catchy, and funny, and oddly moving. I Believe In Father Christmas/Greg Lake I never tire of.
Then we have all the oldies. White Christmas/Bing Crosby is a gem. (He then blotted his copybook with Little Drummer Boy, but nobody’s perfect.) Santa Baby/Eartha Kitt, later covered by Kylie Minogue is funny. Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town/The Crystals (though originally by Hilary Duff) has that great Phil Spector wall of sound production.
There’s a lot of fairly audacious sexual innuendo in some lyrics too, which makes them smuttily amusing. In Santa Baby, we get ‘So hurry down my chimney tonight.’ That seems to be a blatant reference to sexual congress to me, but perhaps it’s just my mind. Winter Wonderland is rubbish, but the bit about getting married by a snowman? If that’s not an impromptu licence to roast your chestnuts on an open fire, I don’t know what is. Filth. Pure filth.
Right, that’s it. Rant over.