Christmas music when I was growing up in the '60s was a depressing mix of:
- Rat Pack Cool Crap -- Dino and Frankie wheezing through old chestnuts, drink and cigarette in hand, naughty winks at women in scanty Santa outfits
- The remnants of the "chorale" industry, whose maudlin efforts were only made the more creepy by a tendency toward bizarre pre-claymation album cover art, and which can never be forgiven for bringing us the most horrible Christmas earworm ever, "The Little Drummer Boy." Harry Simeone has much to answer for. And listening to "chorale" records can only lead to Sandler & Young.
- Burl F'ing Ives
These nightmarish musical memories set me to thinking how little good new Christmas music there is. There are definitely some exceptions -- Brian Setzer swinging the chestnuts, and Los Straitjackets straightening out of The Ventures' approach are both modern Christmas classics. Rock has a hard time with Christmas anyway, and Fiona Apple singing "Frosty the Snowman" isn't exactly what I'm thinking of. I mean new songs about Christmas. John Lennon and The Kinks are hardly new. Let's keep it to the last 15 years -- here are my favorite newish kick-ass Christmas songs:
- Merry Christmas Emily – Cracker
- Christmastime – Aimee Mann
- Rudy – The Be Good Tonyas
- Sock It To Me Santa – Marshall Crenshaw
- The Christmas Twist – Syd Straw
- St. Stephen's Day Murders – Elvis Costello and The Chieftains
Your faves? Tell me!