I haven’t cringed at the sound of the music commonly associated with Christmas for my whole life, you know.
There was a time, even after I stopped believing in Santa (sorry if I just spoiled the holiday for anyone there), when the "holiday hits" warmed the cockles of my Grinchy heart. Catch me in an unguarded moment at the end of one of the parties in the unending succession of seasonal soirees and you might even hear a chorus of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" slip out.
But there are a few sing-along goodies that actually aren’t painful to hear again and again, although they still need to be employed sparingly and under just the right circumstances.
Take heart, one of the last respites from preprogrammed and tired holiday tuneage is your trusty automobile. You know you’ll be motorvating back and forth from friends, family and co-workers’ holiday functions. You might as well find solace in your own four-wheeled open sleigh. It’s like Gary Numan said, "here in my car / I feel safest of all."
What you need is music guaranteed to keep you in the spirit of the season, but not cloying enough to cause you to drive your car into the nearest snowbank.
So, here’s what you’ll find pumping from the speakers of an otherwise anonymous ‘88 Chevy Nova, should you be in my vicinity this year:
"A FAIRY TALE OF NEW YORK"
The Pogues w/ Kirsty MacColl
Any song that starts with poetic raconteur Shane MacGowan spitting, "It was Christmas Eve, babe / in the drunk tank / an old man said to me / won’t see another one" and climaxes with love / hate cutting barbs traded by a couple too familiar with one another ("You were handsome / You were pretty / Queen of New York City / Happy Christmas your ass / and thank God it’s our last") giving way to a soaring, heartwarming bittersweet chorus that should ring from the downtown speakers of every prefab suburban "downtown." Alas, it won’t, but that doesn’t mean you can’t blast it from your car speakers to keep the proper perspective on the season.
"X-MAS SURPRISE PACKAGE VOL. 1"
Flying Bomb Records
A modern holiday classic that never gets tired. Can’t quite muster the energy to get your elbows up in the mosh pit that is the mall parking lot? Need that extra boost of punk rock aggression to really get you over the hump of jockeying for the last WWF Pokémon video game rock ‘em-sock ‘em action figure?
Prime your adrenaline pumps with this batch of punk rock gems from current and past Detroit rock ‘n’ roll street-and-gutter rock. The cynic in you will thrill to Bantam Rooster’s "Let’s Just Fuck for Christmas," the Dirtys’ "Cocaine Christmas" and the Wildbunch’s excursion into instrumental paranoia, "X-mas Xorcismus" (an instrumental, holiday reinvention of the theme from The Exorcist.)
"CHRISTMAS IN HOLLIS"
Hip-hop’s high-water mark in the Christmas genre. Old school, linear and chockfull of the big beats you’ll not find in other classic tunes of the season. It’ll have you rolling and rapping along (after all, Run-D.M.C. is one of those acts with which even rap beginners can flex their rap-along skillz) and, in no time, you’ll forget the indigestion caused by one too many hits off the cheese log.
"HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS"
As narrated by Boris Karloff, this newly released CD version is the only destination you’ll need to escape the tyranny of music. Sometimes you don’t want silence, but you sure as hell don’t want to hear any more tuneage. Besides, Seuss’ rhymes are as lyrical as anything you’ll get from Peggy Lee, Bing Crosby or any other dead white folks.
"PETER GUNN THEME"
Sure it’s cliché, so sue me. But you’ll not find a better sound track to plowing over lawn ornaments and nativity scenes among the entire "driving music" genre.