You try and avoid them, but can’t. You hear them in cars, stores, lobbies, elevators, banks, the radio and on television. They stalk you like bill collectors. They’re everywhere — the most headache-inducing holiday songs. Here are mine in no particular order…
“Santa Baby” by Madonna – Wow. She’s not called the Material Girl for nothing. With all the demands for furs, cars, yachts, and jewelry, there’s something too Golddigger-ish in these lyrics. And while I like Madonna, the itsy-bitsy, cutesy-wootsy baby voice gets under my skin.
Eartha Kitt wrote and performed this in 1953 when women waited for men to buy them nice things (in exchange for “services” of course). Now many working women buy these goodies for themselves, thank you very much. Are there still gold-diggers out there? Hmmm… I’ll leave that to another blog post.
“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by Bruce Springsteen – Okay fans, calm down. I’ve loved The Boss for decades, but he doesn’t always hit it out of the park. What can I say? A musician friend once made fun of this breathlessly cheerful rendition so much, it stayed in my brain forever.
But he was right. There’s something too cutesy here. Plus, how many times must I hear (I believe I counted 24) “Santa Claus is coming to town!” I get it, already.
“Wonderful Christmas Time” by Paul McCartney – Did Sir Paul write this in his sleep? It’s plodding, repetitive and well… sad. Is this the same man who penned “Yesterday” and “Maybe I’m Amazed?” Isn’t the whole song a tedious repeating of the title with some other stuff thrown in?
If you can’t sleep on Christmas Eve, put this on a loop. Trust me, it’s better than Ambien.
“Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” by Elmo & Patsy – Let’s see… Grandma’s found dead in the snow Christmas morning with hoof prints on her forehead and “Claus” marks on her back? Hi-larious! Grandpa spends the day “watching football and playing cards with Mel?” Okay. Strange group, back out slowly….
“All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth” by Spike Jones – Meh. This was cute when I was six and could relate, but so many decades later, I get the message. By now this kid should be 102. Come to think of it, he probably still wants his two front teeth.
“It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year” by Andy Williams – Easy for you to say, Andy. You were probably cuddled up in some French ski lodge with sexy snow bunny Claudine Longet when this 1963 ditty came out.
The rest of us mortals? We’re stuck in endless lines at Target. Is this the most wonderful time of the year? Depends when you ask me.
Having gotten that off my chest, here are my three favorite holiday songs…
“Happy Christmas (War is Over)” by John Lennon – The season can’t begin until I hear this. I love the sweetness of the Harlem Community Choir singing backup. I love that John and Yoko managed to sneak in an anti-war message. Even more poignant is that he’s no longer with us. I still miss him.
“The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)” by Nat King Cole – Many have tried. Many have failed. No one sings this melody like silky-voiced Nat. For some reason the line, “Kids from one to 92” gets me every time. I heard that as a tot and now many (many) decades later, it still makes me misty-eyed. Maybe we all want to believe in Santa Claus.
But the winner is… the song that makes me stop and weep each time…
Those sweet, high-pitched children’s voices… that thoughtful, slow tempo and beautiful melody. This song’s about innocence and childhood lost. (Sorry, I’m already starting to sniffle).
This song isn’t goading you to be cheerful. It’s not about cars and jewelry and furs. It’s not about bumping off an annoying family member.
It’s about time passing.
Remember sliding down a hill on your new sled Christmas morning? Weren’t our children babies just last week, squealing as they came out to see their gifts? Now they’re blasé adults holding coffee mugs.
Where did it go?
For me, Charlie Brown’s “Christmas Time is Here” captures the poignancy of this season like no other. The wheel of life keeps turning.
And yes, it isn’t as exciting as some of the other holiday standards.
But I’ll take it over “Santa Baby” any time. Pass the tissues.
Agree? Disagree? Comments are always welcome.
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