351. Christmas Songs Like Cookies

Favorite Christmas songs change as you age, I think, just like childhood cookie choices and Christmas activities. And every year one or two are added to the standards list.

As a kid I could gorge on oatmeal cookies, Oreos, or even plain old sugar cookies, or ginger snaps. My favorite was chocolate oatmeal no bakes, which really are candy not cookies. Also a good bowel super charger. As my triglycerides float higher in later life, I have to pass on these sugar factories, fatty foods, salt, and useless white flour products. As I get older and wiser, I have to choose healthier foods… and songs.

The Christmas song book goes on forever with hymns and old standards that go back a hundred years. Some are sad and slow, and some are joyful. It takes a lot to wiggle into this musical encyclopedia.  John Lennon’s So This is Christmas is sort of an anti-war Christmas tune.

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

By the end of the song he slips in the War is over line. Maybe that’s why I don’t get the Christmas spirit out of this song.It’s political.

When you think of traditional Christmas songs, Silent Night and The First Noel saturate the sad and slow market. Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Oh Holy Night are still home runs in my book, but I decided to research the most popular Christmas songs. After an exhausting 10 seconds I found a list of the top ten without any explanation of their metrics. I thought I’d share and seek your feedback as I offloaded mine.

The source is About Entertainment, if it matters to you. I can’t argue with their #1 The Christmas Song by Nat king Cole. One of my faves also.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos

How many songs mention our Indigenous Arctic Natives? I challenge you to name one other song with Eskimo in it. So far, so good. Love that saturated silky smooth calf’s skin voice of Nat Cole. Soothing. I bought one of his records at the grocery store for 99 cents when I was a kid. Still have it.

#2 is a sad one from a sad time… World War II days. It’s Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, made famous by Judy Garland

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on
Our troubles will be out of sight (my Lord)
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yuletide gay
From now on
Our troubles will be miles away
Note the focus on troubles. Sad as it is, this was a rewrite of the original because the movie producer of Meet Me in St. Louis thought it was too depressing. I appreciate the song, but I have a hard time endorsing it in the top ten. Tying Christmas to historical times or politics, well, misses the point, I think. Which brings me to #3, Lennon’s So This is Christmas. I’ve already addressed this above. The message of Christmas, the birth of a redeeming savior, ought to override the blues of the day, the wars and the human failures.
#4 I think should be #1. Oh Holy Night, a tough song to sing, is transforming when sung well on Christmas Eve. It’s the first one in this list that mentions Christ or Savior. I am biased toward the original reason, the pre-commercialization purpose of Christmas: to re-create and commemorate the original epic story, before it became Santatized. I have no problem with gifts and Santa and the familiar myths that have sprung up alongside the original story of a savior redeeming mankind. I just want the original to have its place at the center of history, minus reindeer and Santa and elves. The God of the Universe met humanity in the humblest of places. He did not fly in on a sleigh full of presents.
#5 is Springsteen’s version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Okay, I like the Boss and it’s fun to rock the holidays. I like to hear this once per Christmas. That’s it.
#6 Baby Please Come Home For Christmas. Baby, please don’t. What the heck is this doing on the list? So  wrong.
#7Jingle Bell Rock. Again, contemporary Yulishness. It belongs in the secular song book of early rock and roll. Not this high, folks. Not worthy.
#8 Little Drummer Boy. No, no, no. Parumpapumpum. No, no, no, no, get outta here son.
#9 Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. Get outta here. Kids, okay. Adults, no. Sing this at the kids’ table.

#10 White Christmas by Bing Crosby. Hard to dis. The man could croon. What if he and Nat Cole did a duet? Liquid cheesecake. Heroin addicts would stop to listen. Good juice.

So, everyone has their favorites. What are yours? Joy to the World, needs to be up near the top of my ten greatest. My buddy Eric loved this song and I loved him, so it’s a safe top three in my book. I’ve always been partial to The First Noel and Silent Night, so we’ve got a top four. I’ll throw down with Nat Cole’s Christmas Song to round out my top five.
Sure there are many others to debate, but that’s for you to do. I’ve already chiseled my choices in stone.
Have yourself a Merry Christmas, big, little, medium, secular, sacred, commercial or not.  May your days be merry and bright, and may all  your Christmases be white.

 

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179. Sunday evening gray bear

Something about Sunday evenings in the fall after the clocks have been reset… a moody grayness rises from the ground like a ghost bear that does not have enough fat stored to make it through winter; he can’t sleep yet, so he roams and rummages through trash cans and refrigerators left on unguarded porches. It’s been dark for an hour, but it’s only 5:30 p.m. My mammalian brain wants to hibernate in a modern manner– sit in my recliner and watch football games into the late hours with a bowl of chips and a drink. I’m not very interested in this moment. It’s just background noise with an occasional break out play that’s worth a second look. “How did he catch that pass with one hand while falling backwards?!!” Beer and car commercials interrupt the droning stadium rumblings, both have beautiful female models designed to snap men out of their numb slumbering. It’s not working. “Keep your beer and cars, you gorgeous temptresses!” I’m a modern gray couch bear. Not dangerous really, just present like a boring unsalted metaphorical slug at the end of its slime trail.

My theme song floats up into consciousness. It’s “California Dreaming”…

“All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray
I’ve been for a walk
On a winter’s day
I’d be safe and warm
If I was in L.A.”

That dude wants to leave winter in New York City and his boring girlfriend, I believe. He’s fighting off hibernation and consternation. I’ve felt that way, wanting to be in the warmth while stuck in the cruel cold of a relationship or weather pattern. He’s stuck between folly and melancholy. Now I know there is no such place or construction, Blogaritas. I just like how it sounds, okay? {Don’t make me get off this couch and open a can of whipped cream and fire hose you. You know I’ll do it.}

Oh no, here comes Tom Petty. I’ll handle him. “Hey, Tom.”

“You don’t know how it feels to be me.
Let’s get to the point, let’s roll another joint
And let’s head on down the road
There’s somewhere I gotta go
And you don’t know how it feeeeeels to be meeeeeeeee.”

Tom doesn’t have the answer to Sunday night ennui either. He has the same question. What’s the point here? He just asks it musically with a jaded Florida boy attitude.

“Well, Tom, I don’t know how it feels to be you, probably like my jaw jacked up on novocaine feels. I think you ought to head on down that symbolic rock-n-roll road of life. You have a dream to run down, and, Tom, you’ll need a lot of joints to get there, Bro. Just remember, the waiting is the hardest part.”

“Thanks man. That’s cool.”

Now here comes Bob Dylan, and you know he has to put in his two cents.

“I can’t understand
She let go of my hand
An’ left me here facing the wall
I’d sure like to know
Why she did go
But I can’t get close to her at all
Though we kissed through the wild blazing nighttime
She said she would never forget
But now mornin’s clear
It’s like I ain’t here
She just acts like we never have met.”

“Thanks for that, Bob. You are not old and inconsequential. You are a legendary icon. Now get out of here, cuz beyond here lies nothing.”

It’s like that. There is a vague expectation of life on a Sunday evening, something like a half-forgotten kiss that came while raking leaves in the twilight of adolescence. A neighbor girl laid one on and set the woods on fire, and that honey fire smolders to this day. But it’s gone, the trail back to that memory is paved over and rerouted to a cemetery. That’s it! The smokey bear is a gauzy mute harbinger of death. Where will I sleep tonight, Emily Dickinson? In a leafy woods or a graveyard?

“Because I could not stop for Death—
He kindly stopped for me—
The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
And Immortality”

Thanks, Em, keep in touch ( you wet blanket, party pesticide ). She is so dead, man.

I need something here, not too terminal but not vague and totally self serving either. Environmentally friendly honesty with psychic traction. I don’t know what that means, but I think I could sell cars with b.s. like it. Wait, wait. That’s my cell.

“Hello. Hi Mick. So you were driving in your car, and a man came on the radio telling you just how white your shirts could be, but he can’t be a man cuz he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as you? Is that correct?”

“Uh huh. No satisfaction. Okay. well I gotta go. Say hi to your mates for me. Sure, next time you’re in town. Bye.”

Whew! I remember when that would have been something to talk about. Now I can’t get off the phone fast enough. Those crazy Rollin Stones. Great name but the Wrinkled Iguanas might be more accurate these days.

I think I need to go to boredom detox then rehab. And then Bored Anonymous as part of my boring aftercare. “Hi, I’m Burrito. I am a boredaholic.”
“Hi, Burrito.” When rock legends and literary icons can’t stir me out of my grayness, what can? Twenty six people in a church basement working the 7th step of the BA program?

Step 7. I must humbly ask my higher power to forgive my shortcomings:
“Lord, forgive me for my boring shortcomings and meanderings. There are typhoon victims floating in the ocean for shark food and here I am cleaning my navel fighting a yawn.”

Something will come to me in the next 50 words because that’s how I am editing this post. I have miles to go before I sleep and promises to keep.

Okay, something should be arriving any minute now. Yo! I got a goal to hit. Hmmm, that one finger nail is getting mighty proud. I should trim him back. Maybe dust the ceiling fan while I’m up. Okay, I give up.