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Christmas 2022

Hi folks. This is my Christmas post, about 5 of my favourite Christmas songs I haven’t heard in any shopping mall or coffee shop, I had happened to stop in over the years. The one thing they have in common is that these songs are not traditional Christmas songs (with one exception) and are original songs written by the artists. Something else they have in common is that they are not necessarily well known by the mainstream and only to the audience of the band and or radio format on which they are played. I will have more on this later. Anyway, in one case I learned about the song through a book on the song writer and performer, writen by himself. It is a repost from my personal blog from 2016 but I felt it needed a 2018 update and so, here is the list for 2018 to present. Yes, I will include a Queen Christmas song in here. Why wouldn’t I? Before I do that, I have some truth to tell about why Christmas music is played more on some radio stations than others and this came from an internationally known radio personality from Canada. His name is Alan Cross and I trust what he says!

Over the last couple of decades, a growing number of radio stations have flipped to an all-Christmas format starting as early as the end of September. Good on them. This is a very smart ratings move because for a few weeks of the year, people LOVE hearing nothing but holiday music. This means bigger ratings and that means more revenues through the lean winter months.
Because so many stations have jumped on this bandwagon, artists are trying to cash in on the craze and have been releasing holiday songs at an insane rate. Each year, there are more and more of them.
The hard truth about this is that the songs which gain traction with the all-Christmas folks are traditional songs. They can be original–like Perry Como’s “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” and Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”, or they can be covers of those traditional songs. That explains why so many artists default to the tried and true for their Christmas releases.
Managing to have a hit original Christmas song is really, really, really hard, especially if that song has been released over the last 25 years. That would explain why Thank God It’s Christmas is not as well known as it should be and I was lucky to hear it on the radio in 1991, before getting it on CD in 1992, but more on that later. Tradition will always win out because Christmas is all about tradition and continuity and the good old days, right?

Other stations which play rock (i-e) main stream rock, classic rock, active rock or alternative rock do not pander to the mainstream at this time of year. They will play their share of holiday tunes, but they don’t go overboard. Everything in moderation, as the saying goes.

This brings me to the music I have included in this post. The idea of this post is to give some love to holiday songs that will never get played on the mainstream adult contemporary all-Christmas stations, or even rock stations with the exception of 1 or 2 songs. This is not the kind of stuff that flies in offices, stores, Christmas parties, or when Grandma is in the room, unless she is really open minded and happens to enjoy some of the songs I have picked out. So, get ready for some weirdness and some profanity. Sandwiched somewhere in there, is a Queen Christmas song, which was a hit for Queen in 1984.

The first song on my list is Santa Claus Is Comin To Town. Wait! What? Yes, this is a Christmas song but the version I want to bring to your attention is by Bahamian born idiosyncratic guitarist Joseph Spence. He plays guitar and well… sings, but in his own unique way. Actually, he more or less grunts his way through the songs, while playing his out of tune guitar in open tuning. It’s going to be hard to listen to, without laughing or wanting to smash your phone or computer, depending on your reaction to it but, here is the song.

Did you get through that song? If you did, have you stopped laughing yet? If so, the next song on my list is Thank God It’s Christmas by Queen, which is written by Brian and Roger. This song was released in December 1984 near the end of The Works album cycle and it has appeared on a couple of Queen albums since. The most recent appearance is on the 2011 Deluxe version of The Works. I had performed it in 1992 30 years ago today, with my best friend Bob Reid at our school and it went over well. It was at one of our noon hour concerts the school held in the auditorium after lunch. Because I couldn’t go home the previous weekend, I had got the idea in my head to maybe do this song, during one of those concerts and Bob was glad to help me out with that. Altho I wish I had known who had written it back then, as I wasn’t able to ascertain that it was from the guitar, keyboards and pens of Brian and Roger.

By the way, I don’t think of A Winter’s Tale as a Christmas song, because it doesn’t mention anything to do with the holidays, except for winter. I see it as a winter song and even that could be questionable, with the words “gentle rain beating on my face”. Last time I checked, there are no Christmas songs with rain being featured and this tune is more of a reflection by Freddie, about how beautiful it is outside. Anyway, here is Thank God It’s Christmas.
This next song will make the 2018″Baby, It’s Cold Outside” brouhaha seem like small potatoes. Fairytale of New York by The Pogues is my next choice as one of my favourites. I had actually heard it for the first time, during Christmas 1995 and it didn’t really catch on with me, until some time in the last 9 years or so when I had heard it on more radio stations and recently read about the song on Wikipedia. I like it because of the dialog in the song and the fact that the woman refers to the man as “you scumbag you Magette, you cheap lousy faggot” referring to the man’s drunkenness. On another note, singer Shane MacGowan was kicked out of The Pogues for being a drunk and replaced by Joe Strummer formerly of The Clash for a time. Here is the song anyway, featuring Kirsty MacColl as the female character, with the song and its subsequent album If I Should Fall from Grace with God being produced by her husband Steve Lillywhite. I could go down that rabbit hole and talk about all the bands he has produced, but that’s not for this blog.

My next two choices require a disclaimer. If you are offended by the language in either of the next two songs, I apologize. However, I feel the songs are important to bring to your attention and, I happen to like them.

Next is a song by a member of Monty Python. Also, a guest star on The Simpsons, as well as having success with musicals and other works. Did I mention that he is a song writer too? He certainly wrote one of the most popular songs at funerals, as far as I know. Yes,Eric Idle has written Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life and this next song on my list. The song is simply titled Fuck Christmas and I heard about it, while listening to the audiobook version of his latest book “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life: A Sortabiography”. I highly recommend purchasing the audiobook version of it because, you get to hear Eric himself, read it to you and I will warn you, that there will be a lot of names dropped besides his fellow Monty Python members, including Jim Beach. Yes, Queen and Monty Python are connected by Jim as their manager and a friend of Eric. Anyway, here is the song, in all its uncensored glory.

The final song on my list of Christmas songs I have never heard anywhere I am either shopping or dining is x-M@$ by Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour. It was released in 2010 as a Christmas single, with any money from sails going to charity. In the song, The protagonist is a man who hates Christmas and all that goes with it and would rather be drunk or stoned on this Yuletide holiday, as opposed to consuming eggnog, listening to Caralers and all that joyful noise. There are even a few four letter words in the song and a clean version was also produced for radio and for people who would be offended.
To those who would expect a more traditional song from Corey, I say that it isn’t surprising that he wrote a song for those who hate Christmas and also, Corey plays music that is subversive and is not for the Grandma’s and Grandpa’s of the world. It’s for the younger croud of 50 and under who would get that the song is not a serious hatred of Christmas tune, from the singer and, it’s satire. I’ve heard that Corey actually likes Christmas and I believe him. I’ve met him and despite him throwing people out of Slipknot shows and throwing water on people, who are texting during the concert, I have nothing bad to say about him. He was great to me and we had Tim Hortons coffee together and he had it black and I had a double-double. Anyway, here is the song.
Well, there is my list of my 5 favourite Christmas songs. What have we learned about them? Well, they are mostly meant for us to listen to at home, in our car (if we drive), or with friends who are as like-minded as you and me.

Sadly, 2 out of the 5 songs won’t be heard on the radio because of the language. The Queen song is probably the most radio friendly of the bunch, in that there is no bad language and it is written in a more traditional Christmas song, type formula. Although, it is a Queen song, after all. Santa Claus Is Comin To Town has been played on the radio, but only in the context of comedy and on at least one comedy radio show. Fairytale Of New York is just a great song and it has certainly grown on me since I had heard it in 1995.

Since I had become an adult I have developed my own opinions on when Christmas music (in general) should be played before December 25th. Basically, I feel that we should be hearing Christmas music throughout December and not in mid to late November or before then, as it is more than a bit much to take. I mean, I love Christmas music and the idea of Christmas in general, but being bombarded with Christmas songs everywhere I go doesn’t necessarily put me in the mood. Besides, it’s the same old Christmas songs every year anyway and thanks to Queen and other rock bands, we have enough original songs to keep Christmas music interesting and more bearable, when having to go shopping for Christmas gifts at the mall or when stopping in for a coffee at Starbucks or something. I say this knowing what Alan Cross has said earlier on, which isn’t all that surprising anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I have fond memories of Christmas’s past, thanks to hearing Christmas music. However, Christmas song after Christmas song and repeat? In malls and dining establishments, along with grocery stores, can get a little boring, even though it is supposed to put us in the mood (so we are told). Having said that, I will let it go because it’s just background music anyway. However, when I am looking to see what is playing and I find more than one all-Christmas stations in my area… … I try and steer clear as much as possible and stick to rock.

Rock radio has the right idea, in that Christmas music should be played from December 1st to Boxing Day and if new songs come in, go ahead and play them when they are fresh, to find out if listeners will like it. Then, start ramping up the Christmas music the previous weekend until December 25th, but only once in a music block along with the songs in regular rotation. Some rock radio stations go all Christmasy from Christmas Yves to the end of Christmas day, while playing the normal playlist and on December 26, everything is back to normal. As you can probably tell, I do not like when radio stations switch to an all Christmas format and it is usually stations which are adult contemporary and might play a Queen song or two, but on occasion. Thankfully, we will hear Thank God It’s Christmas on most rock radio stations these days, especially those which have a leaning toward classic rock.

On the other hand, when I hear Christmas music it brings back memories of childhood at my parents place, waiting to open the presents and hoping I get something good each year. However, too much of a good thing can be damaging to someone right?

Anyway, I hope we all have a great Christmas and we get lots of goodies. Let’s end this with a bonus from Monty Python and the other Christmas song from The Meaning of Life, without the visit from the Grim Reaper.

ps I will probably do another post in a few days, on that Queen concert in 1975. You know?


Published by blindgordie

I am a blind at birth human and love to write. I have many interests and they are all in all 3 blogs I have here. Hopefully you enjoy reading them as much as I have had both fun and a hard time putting together each post.

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