Yes, I am going to talk about Christmas Carols. No, I’m not a fan. As I’ve mentioned before, most of them are miserable songs that are usually just a half-step away from being a funeral dirge. Sure, they say “Yay, the savior is born!” But they do it with all the zeal of an Eeyore on heroin. “Little Drummer Boy” sounds like it should be upbeat (and if Neil Peart had written it, it would be) but even the Bing Crosby and David Bowie version (Yes, there is such a thing) couldn’t save this from being a snoozer. Let’s celebrate the birth of our lord and savior with a nap, just wake me before New Year’s.
Quick historical note, because I was curious, too. Carols were first sung in Europe thousands of years ago, but these were not Christmas Carols. They were pagan songs, sung at the Winter Solstice celebrations as people danced round stone circles. The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, usually taking place around 22nd December. The word Carol actually means dance or a song of praise and joy! So, they were happy songs. I’ll see if I can get Elle to do a Wytching Hour episode about them sometime. (Follow that link for that to make sense.)
Unfortunately, the modern carols aren’t really that upbeat. For example, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is a song about blatant abuse and discrimination, and it isn’t really that peppy, is it? Nor does the intro to it make any sense. The full version, not the one your kid sings, starts with:
You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen
Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of them all?
Seriously? Did you just name the original eight and ask if I remember the most famous one? Isn’t that like someone saying “I remember all of the ’27 Yankees except Babe Ruth” or “I can name all the Beatles except Ringo”? What the hell kind of question is that, especially to start of a song that has the answer to your question in the title of it?
How about Silver Bells? On every street corner you hear… Silver Bells. Silver Bells. And I frankly don’t remember much beyond that because that particular song is the equivalent of being hit with a tranquilizer dart.
Deck the Hall – which I’ve only been recently told is really singular, is perky. Bows of holly. ‘Tis the season to be jolly. Don we now our gay apparel. Troll the ancient Yuletide carol. In between these lines, of course, are a series of Fas and Las, but those aren’t really sung… well. Usually they sound a bit drunken. Also, that last line. Trolls, ancient and Yuletide. This isn’t a Christmas song! I sense some of that Pagan stuff here. (And frankly, I like it.)
Jingle Bells is a big more like it, except not many people use horses for transport anymore. And apart from a tale of my great-grandmother talking her father into doing a sleigh ride in June (on runners on wet grass), the people in the Southern part of the United States don’t get to see much in the way of sleigh use. Again, though, no mention of Jesus or Christmas itself, so, is it really a Christmas carol? If it is, can we get an update?
Walking in a Winter Wonderland – Again, ever been down south? It really doesn’t snow much here. And if it does… my God do people panic! And in one of the most bizarre ways I can think of. “Snow is coming? Oh My God! Quick! Buy all the bread and milk!” No, seriously. Look that up. It’s weird.
It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year – is it though? It’s dark. It’s cold. Days are very short. Pre-Christmas people are running around like headless chickens trying to find the “perfect present” (and fighting each other over them, I might add). Post-Christmas people are mostly sullen and depressed as we head into the next big holiday: Valentine’s Day. When singles everywhere become even more miserable, resulting in a higher suicide rate than any month. February: Thank God it’s short… otherwise there’d be more dead.
I keep forgetting the title for the song Sleigh Ride. The ring ting ting-a-ling song. You know that one. It’s perky and nonsensical and potentially written by Dr. Seuss. Not a bad song, really but, again, Christmas is not really mentioned, is it?
How about modern ones, I hear you ask? Okay. Last Christmas by George Michael. Last Christmas, I gave you my heart, then I died shortly thereafter because I kinda needed that. Actually the real lyrics aren’t that far off. The person he gave it to, gave it to someone else. George Michael’s heart was re-gifted. Yeah. That’s happy and upbeat. Yay! Jesus!
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – I agree with the sentiment. Let’s tone it down a bit. It doesn’t have to be everywhere, y’know. If any non-Christian holiday was done up like this there’d be outrage from those “love thy neighbor” Christian-types, who don’t really seem to love thy neighbor like they’re supposed to. Celebrate? Sure. But does every box of breakfast cereal need it’s own Christmas version though? Really?
In looking through all this, I did find a Star Wars Christmas Album that includes the song: “What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?)” I can’t seem to find a good recording of the song but I did hear some of the others on the album and… look. I love Star Wars. Well, the original trilogy, anyway. And the books before Disney retconed them. But, really? This was almost as cringy as the Star Wars Holiday Special. Yes, such a thing existed. It aired on CBS back in the late 70s with Mark Hamill, Carrie Fischer, Harrison Ford and Bea Arthur. Yeah. That Bea Arthur. It’s on YouTube. Look it up. (Ah, that recycled footage!)
How about this one then? Backdoor Santa by Clarence Carter – It’s about the Santa that hits up all the women while the men are out. That’s right, fellas! While you’re at work or out shopping or with the guys at the pub, Santa is with your wife! It might explain why your kid came out with a big white beard.
That does lead me to the only proper Christmas Carol though. How? Backdoor Santa is sampled in it. That’s right. The best Christmas Carol ever is Christmas in Hollis by Run DMC! Yes, THAT Run DMC! It’s the only one that’s not only upbeat, it actually mentions Christmas. It mentions what it’s about. It mentions what to do for the holiday.
Therefore, Run DMC’s Christmas In Hollis is the best Christmas Carol. Ever. Period. Fight me!
Incidentally, what the hell is Auld Lang Syne about?