Monday, December 20, 2004

CHRISTMAS WITH THE DEVIL. As my readers know, we liberals hate even the mention of Christmas, which causes us to -- what was Lileks' evocative phrase? -- "appear stunned and flummoxed for a moment, as if I've just blabbed the plans for the underground's sabotage of the train tracks in front of the secret police."

Well, Satan and I know the remedy for that: a playlist of evil, Santa- and Jesus-mocking Xmas anti-carols! That ought to be good for at least three columns at National Review Online.

Since I am deep in holiday cups, I will crib the following citations from my own concatenation of holiday hissings from back in the Old Time, and invite my readers to supply any missing blasphemies.

"Father Christmas," The Kinks. A British social realist Xmas, in which a department store Santa gets mugged: "Father Christmas, give us some money/Don't mess around with those silly toys/We'll beat you up if you don't hand it over/We want your bread so don't make us annoyed."

"Santa Claus is Coming to Town," Rats of Unusual Size. Flint-based rockers do this song the only sensible way: as a horror-movie Black Sabbath shriek-fest: "SAAAAANTA Claus is comin'! SAAAAAANTA Claus is comin'!"

"Merry Muthafuckin Xmas," Eazy-E. "On the third day of Chrismas my homeboys gave to me/three pounds of indo/two birds of cocaine/and a A muthafuckin' K bitch." Word.

"Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," Portsmouth Sinfonia. This famous experiment, in which musicians played instruments with which they were only vaguely familiar, yielded a hilarious version of the Tchaikovsky warhorse. The percussion is especially "good."

"Christmas in Prison," John Prine and "Christmas in February," Lou Reed. If we must have bleakly sentimental Christmas songs, let's go all the way, with hard-timers and homeless Vietnam vets.

"Santa Claus von Bulow," The Reverb Motherfuckers. Alright, so I wrote it. A bum dying of hypothermia on the Houston Street traffic divider while dreaming of Lotto says "Christmas" to me.

"I Hate Christmas," Oscar the Grouch. "I can't think of anything that's dumber/To a grouch, Christmas is a bummer!" This one's for the kids.

"Santa's Coming (and You're on His List)", Crucial Youth. This was submitted by Grady Olivier. I'm not familiar with it, nor with CY's "Xmastime for the Skins," but they sound like the right stuff.

"Christmas with the Devil," Spinal Tap. "The sugar plums are rancid/And the stockings are in flames..." Remember, Santa spelled inside-out is Satan.

Worthy additions, all, but still a bit too cheery to countervail the noxiously twee Christmas-American Spirit. So I offer a final suggestion: "Silent Night/7 o'clock News," Simon & Garfunkel. This amusingly earnest sound collage has the boys warbling the old Christmas chestnut while a Walter Cronkite impersonator (or is it Walt himself?) intones grim newsbriefs ("The nurses were found stabbed and strangled in their Chicago apartment. In Washington today the atmosphere was tense..."). This serves as a pertinent reminder that, thirty-seven years later, no one (least of all any big-time recording artist) is sufficiently idealistic and naive to try anything remotely like it. To blasphemously paraphrase John Lennon, "Merry War (Xmas is Over)."

UPDATE. Reader Smelmoth reminds me of The Pogues, "Fairytale of New York" ('Twas Christmas Eve babe/In the drunk tank...). How could I forget? Even Steve "White City" Sailer likes this one!

UPDATE 2. Lots of great suggestions in comments.I never knew AC/DC and ELP had Xmas songs. Thanks, Citizen Journalists!

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