12 Days of Christmas Music That Isn’t Awful (Day 6)

No video today.  The reason?  Because the song I’m about to share with you has never been recorded other than written down in words.  Here.

One of my favorite Christmas songs when I was a kid was “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  Maybe it was because of the repetition, maybe it was because of the variety of objects.  Maybe it was because, in my imagination, the song contained a visual smorgasbord of fantastic things.  I just loved singing it.  A lot.  On the swingset, in the shower, while I was setting the table for dinner, while I was wrapping gifts — you name it.  (Of course, I also indulged in marathon singing sessions of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” with my grandmother on car trips, to the unbelievable annoyance of my parents, I’m sure.)

Anyway, a couple of years ago, my husband and I came up with new lyrics for the delightful carol.  We were at breakfast with our kids, who were hyper.  It was about this time of year.  We had much to do and not nearly enough time to do it.  Saturday stretched ahead of us like one long divide-and-conquer list.  And these new lyrics arose organically from our collective stress and enjoyment of the season — in other words, from our punchiness.

Click here to read “The New Twelve Days of Christmas.”

You enjoy.  I’m going to go try and finish grading finals by tomorrow afternoon.  I’m going to try not to fail.

 

 

12 Days of Christmas Music That Isn’t Awful (Day 5)

Time is slipping away from me, and I need to send out my New Year’s Eve party invitations.  I mean, we’ve been throwing this party for about fifteen years, and our friends generally know (I think) to expect it, but it’s wise to make it official, so that’s a task for later today.  To help me remember to do it between grading finals, this song is on my mind.

In keeping with the theme of nostalgia from yesterday, I thought about offering up the Nancy Wilson version, which I rather like, but I found this video of Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and thought it was too adorable to pass up.

What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

 

12 Days of Christmas Music That Isn’t Awful (Day 4)

So much of the Christmas music I encounter is from the 1940s and 1950s.  It seems a certain nostalgia for this time period follows the winter holidays about half the time.  I’ve been trying to puzzle out why, what it’s about.  If you have any ideas, please post them in the comments here.

In the meantime, here’s a song from 1941 that I happen to love.  It’s not specifically about any holiday in particular, but about the weather, and since I live in a place where it’s easy to love the weather in the winter time…

Here’s Peggy Lee and Art Lund and the Benny Goodman Orchestra with “Winter Weather.”  Enjoy the song and the charming slideshow of Peggy Lee!

 

 

12 Days of Christmas Music That Isn’t Awful (Day 3)

So, shocking as this might be, Christmas isn’t just about rock music for grown-ups.  It’s also, in part, about kids.  Right?  (Be in a house with kids, and you’ll be assured this is so.)  I do have some child-oriented music on this playlist, but it is also music that offers some humorous content for the grown-ups in the room.

This song does occasionally get some radio play now and then, which is where I first heard it a couple of years ago.  It seems to have fallen out of rotation on Houston’s Official Christmas Music Station, though, which is unfortunate, since they should be actively trying to retain all the interesting songs they can.

Anyway, this one makes my kids sing at the tops of their lungs with joy, even when they’ve previously been in a Grinchy mood.  It’s Gayla Peavey’s “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” and it’s like magic.  Enjoy!

12 Days of Christmas Music That Isn’t Awful (Day 2)

Did you enjoy The Waitresses yesterday?  A few of my friends told me, after I posted it, that they’d had that song in their head this week, too.  Good, good stuff.

Today I present a song by Jonathan Coulton and John Roderick, whom you might know for their quirky senses of humor.  (Jonathan Coulton’s “Code Monkey” comes to mind.)  They put out a Christmas album not too long ago that’s especially dear because it’s some of the only Christmas music my husband can stand to listen to on our commute after the radio onslaught has been going for a few weeks already.

And this song is on my mind today because I’m headed out this afternoon to try and finish up my Christmas shopping and cannot get some of the members of my extended family to tell me what they want.  I’ve told my dad — who has pretty much everything already — on several occasions that if he doesn’t give me some ideas, I’ll be buying him a goat through Heifer Project.  Here’s how that conversation usually goes:

“Give me some ideas, or I’m buying you a goat.”

“I don’t want a goat for Christmas!”

“The goat isn’t for you.  It’s for an impoverished family in a third-world country.  They’ll use it to make a sustainable livelihood and improve their circumstances in life.”

“Oh, what a nice program.  But how are you buying it for me?”

“I’m donating it in your name.”

“That’s sweet.  But I still want a gift.”

“Then give me some ideas, or it’s going to be a goat.”

“I don’t want a goat.”

“DAD!”

“Okay, I’ll reflect on this when I have some time and get back to you later.”

“Grrr.”

Now, my dad is a kind and generous and warm-hearted man who willingly and frequently gives to the less fortunate in many ways.  In fact, I learned many of my philanthropic proclivities from the shining beacon of his example.  But, just like anyone else, at Christmastime, he wants a little something under the tree to open that’s just for him.  And don’t we all???

I’m probably just going to get him a bottle of nice Scotch.  Don’t tell him.

In the spirit of wanting something specific for Christmas, please enjoy “2600.”  The music starts around 3:20 and goes until about 5:25; this video is from the live premiere of the song.  (Another entertaining video of a live performance of it is here, although the sound quality might not be quite as good.  The banter beforehand may contain a four-letter word, just so you know.)

 

12 Days of Christmas Music That Isn’t Awful (Day 1)

I have always loved Christmas music.  In fact, it was my very favorite type of music when I was a kid, and I still have “Houston’s official Christmas music” radio station set to play in my car from right before Thanksgiving when the caroling begins.  I know a lot of people find a 24/7 Christmas music station irritating and go on about this at great length every year, but holiday songs generally just put me in a good mood.  It’s my favorite time of year.

That said, not all Christmas songs are created equal.  One of the reasons the radio onslaught annoys so many people is because, frankly, our local station neglects a lot of the best carols out there and chooses instead to play the same godawful renditions of the same tired songs every few hours.

They can do better.  But I’m pretty sure they won’t.

So as an antidote to Christmas Music That Sucks, I’m offering you my own playlist:  12 Days of Christmas Music That Isn’t Awful.  This is not nearly an exhaustive list, but these are just a few of my favorites that can be found playing from my iPod in my car more frequently than the commercial radio fare.  The songs I’ll be featuring are apparently just too wonderful to be played on the radio — or played there anymore, it seems.  My first pick falls into this latter category, since I was introduced to this song on the radio years ago, when a local rock/pop station played it in with their regular mainstream rock/pop rotation.

Remember The Waitresses?  Remember “Christmas Wrapping”?  It’s a great song, though I couldn’t find an “official” video for it on YouTube that seemed like the real deal.  If you find one, I’d love to know!  This one is cute, though.

Who can resist a far-too-busy woman who gets her Christmas miracle?  I can relate, especially now, when I’m neck-deep in grading finals.

Enjoy.