Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Parson Brown, Farmer Gray and Celine Dion

I love Christmas as much as the next guy - well, unless that guy is in Manheim Steamroller, I guess. Don't love it as much as I used to, granted. One of the reasons I still do like it is Christmas music. I love Christmas music, but not all songs are created equal. I believe that any Christmas song written or recorded after 1970 [when John and Yoko's Happy X-Mas (War is Over) was released; the single greatest Christmas song ever written] has to pass a real strict test:

1)Is it by Celine Dion, Michael Buble, Josh Groban, or anyone else Oprah tells me I'm supposed to like?
2) Is it peppy and do I get excited when I hear it?
3) Is it Elvis?
4) Did the singer add lyrics to what was a perfectly wonderful song, thus 'suckifying' it?

By number 1, that eliminates about 1,000 songs. The fact that Yoko Ono let Celine Dion listen to Happy X-Mas - let alone record it - is a travesty much more serious than her alleged breaking up of the Beatles. No one - and I repeat no one - can fuck up a perfectly classic song like the three artists mentioned in number 1. They can make even the most cheerful of Christmas songs make you want to crucify Christ yourself.

Elvis? Well, anything Elvis does is classic, which goes without saying. Elvis could have recorded the Twelve Days of Christmas hopped up on Percodan and Jim Beam and it'd be a classic [actually, now that I think about it, I think he did that in 1974]. It's not Christmas until Elvis says it's Christmas.

Looking at those four criteria, there are a very few songs in the last 40 years to make the grade. Here are a few of them:

1) Wonderful Christmastime - it's McCartney, for God's sake. 'Nuff said.
2) Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth - this Bing Crosby/David Bowie duet is my all-time favorite. I believe the story is that Bowie wrote the lyrics of Peace on Earth either while they were taping or shortly before they were taping Bing's 1977 Christmas special, in September, 1977. Crosby loved it and the two are wonderful on it - you just have to get used to Bing and Bowie being in the same century, let alone the same room, together. It's also one of my favorites because it's Bing's last recording. He died 10 days after it was made.
3) Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You - Billy Squier didn't do much, but this one's fantastic and never gets played. Squier's right knee had more singing ability that any of the 'artists' in category 1[above] put together.
4) Step Into Christmas - it's Elton, for God's sake. 'Nuff said, again.
5) All I Want For Christmas Is You - yes she's crazy, her weight fluctuates more than Oprah's and I can't stand 99% of what she does, but this Mariah Carey original is just simply a classic, and was from the moment it was released.

I'm sure there are others, but those are the ones I can think of. But, even as much as I love classic Christmas songs, having listened to them pretty much nonstop for the last four weeks, I've realized that I never really thought about some of the lyrics. Take Do You Hear What I Hear? Take a listen:

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
"Do you know what I know?
In your palace warm, mighty king,
Do you know what I know?
A Child, a Child, shivers in the cold;
Let us bring him silver and gold,
Let us bring him silver and gold."

So, they find this kid freezing and they bring him precious metals?!?! That's a good way to kill an infant, pal. Try a blanket next time.

Or, try Winter Wonderland:

In the meadow we can build a snowman,
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown
He'll say: Are you married?
We'll say: No man,
But you can do the job
When you're in town.

The obvious question here is: who the hell is Parson Brown? If this were California, he'd be a 450-pound bearded transvestite who is violating Proposition 8 by marrying gay couples in the winter.

Another favorite is Sleigh Ride. Here, we hear:

There's a birthday party at the home of Farmer Gray,
It'll be the perfect ending of the perfect day.
We'll be singing the songs we love to sing without a single stop
At the fireplace where we'll watch the chestnuts pop, pop, pop, pop

First of all, singing the songs without a single stop? What if I have to pee? Secondly, is Farmer Gray supposed to be Jesus? It's apparently Gray's birthday and it seems a bit symbolic that he'd share the same birthday with Christ, right? Also, most farmers I know would not be too thrilled if a couple dozen strangers came barging into the house on Christmas Day. In fact, that's probably a good way to get yourself shot.

So, with that, I wish you all a Merry Christmas. Or, as a guy I used to work with used to say, "Merry fucking Christmas." He'd normally say this on his way to church.

copyright 2008 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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