H ere comes Christmas! O joy! Hallelujah! Peace on Earth, and goodwill toward people who think, act and look like you think they should!
I walked in to one of the big chain bookstores the day after Halloween down in Santa Fe and, you guessed it, they were already piping in Christmas music. What a racket. It seems like every name in the music business has tried to cash in on this genre-spanning music phenomenon, with mostly nauseating results.
As a DJ of a local country music radio show, I have tried to maintain Christmas music silence during the holidays. But this year, I will spin exactly three Christmas songs on the air that I deem to be properly irreverent or laced with just the right amount of sarcasm. This number could grow if the proper song presents itself between now and that wonderful day when everybody is supposed to be nice to each other for 24 hours.
The first song, and my favorite of the three, is a John Denver song, believe it or not. It's nestled in among a bunch of utter crap on his "Rocky Mountain Christmas" album, released in 1975. Hiding in between "Silver Bells" and "Christmas for Cowboys" - don't forget, John Denver was a "country" musician! - is a gem titled "Please Daddy, Don't Get Drunk this Christmas." In the song, the children are eagerly awaiting their father's return from the bar on Christmas Eve. Late that night, Mommy spots Daddy wobbling down the walkway to the house and sends the kids upstairs to spare them this disgraceful sight. Alas, they come down to open gifts on Christmas morning only to find Daddy passed out underneath the tree. John Denver?! I never thought I'd say it, but ... dude, nice work.
Second place goes to a John Prine song that any remote fan of his has heard. It's called "Christmas in Prison" and will get a goose bump out of anyone with a pulse. This song is a tearjerker and contains one of my favorite lines of all time: "Well it's Christmas in prison and the food was real good, we had turkey and pistols carved out of wood." Good stuff by any standards. This song's a waltz too, so grab a dancin' partner.
Song number three is a neo-classic written by Randy Brooks, and re-recorded in 1979 by Elmo and Patsy Shropshire on their garage label, OINK Records. "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" has oft been re-recorded, and the version that will make it into my radio show next Tuesday was recorded by Juneau's defunct Panhandle Crabgrass Revival Band. The late, great Bill Kozmo of Peabody's Monster, put together a Juneau Christmas album released in the fall of 2001 under the umbrella of Rock Alaska Records. This record has some gems, including a version of the aforementioned "Christmas in Prison" recorded by Mark Bush. As far as I can tell, you can still buy this album on www.rockalaskarecords.com.
And there's my joyous contribution to the warm fuzziness of the impending holiday season. Be sure to tune in this coming Tuesday at 9 p.m. for "The Back Porch," country music with yours truly on KRNN, 102.7-FM. Public radio will never be the same, and, in the words of my Dad, Ed Tracey, "Bah, humbug!"
E-mail Sean Tracey with your grumpy Christmas song suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org