Tag Archives: Holiday songs

Kooky Christmas #15 (take two): “Christmas Island” by The Dinning Sisters & Bob Atcher

Hawaiian Christmas, originally uploaded by coconut wireless.

Let’s try this again.

At #15 on our Kooky Christmas Countdown, we take a trip to the islands, for a holiday in a tropical paradise.

“Christmas Island” by The Dinning Sisters & Bob Atcher

Aloha! Grab your ukelele. I’ll bring the pina coladas. Meet me on the beach at sunset, by that palm tree that someone (island elves?) has strung up with lights and tinsel. We’ll strum and sing while we wait for Santa to come skimming up in his canoe.

You’ll find this tune on one of my favorite Christmas collections, Christmas Cocktails, Part 2, from Ultra-Lounge.

My sister Laura is spending Christmas in Tahiti, staying in a bungalow that’s on stilts over the water. This song is for her. Mele Kalikimaka!

Next on Kooky Christmas: The tale of a be-bop Christmas.

Kooky Christmas #15: “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)” by the Ramones

For today’s Kooky Christmas I promised a trip to the beach, but it’s been a contentious day. Something extra-comforting is needed. We need good cheer. We need words of peace and love. We need music that can bring people together.

We need the Ramones.

“Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)” by the Ramones

The song is terrific on its own, a three-chord punk rock classic. But what really knocks this out of the park is the video. Is it the terrible acting? The ridiculous characters? The wildly 80s outfits? The Santa “cameo” at the end? It’s all of that, delightfully juxtaposed against charmingly bland Ramones sound stage footage.

“Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)” by the Ramones

Oh, Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee, how we miss you.

If you enjoy this song, you need to pick up The Edge of Christmas, an unbeatable collection of punk and post-punk holiday tunes. Several upcoming Kooky Christmas tunes are on it, so you can study ahead of the rest of the class.

Coming up on Kooky Christmas: Our long-promised holiday trip to the beach.

Kooky Christmas #16: “Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis” by Tom Waits

Today’s edition of Kooky Christmas comes to us thanks to a reminder from Uncle Crappy. He posted the below video on his site last Christmas, and the two of us discussed the song yesterday on Twitter. Great minds….

#16: “Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis” by Tom Waits

Maybe you’re one of those people who doesn’t like Tom Waits — finds him grating, affected, caustic, vocally lame, too hard to listen to. “Out there.” It’s OK. Everybody’s different, it’s all good. That’s cool.

Actually, it’s not cool. It’s not even OK.

Well, it’s not awful. You’re not hurting anyone physically or anything. But Tom Waits puts together words and music, and sounds and images — but for me, mostly words — in ways that capture life as we understand it. He’s amazing.

If you don’t feel the same way I do about his work, you and I can still be friends and all. But I’m always going to be sad for you, for what you’re missing.

Anyway, here’s this song Tom Waits wrote years ago, for the album Blue Valentine. The song doesn’t mention Christmas once outside the title; the holiday it mentions in the lyrics is Valentine’s Day. Yet it gives a nice picture of that feeling one has on Christmas Day, thinking back on those we’ve known and lost, past loves, past lives.

Look. Do you have 2 minutes and forty seconds? Not even three minutes, less than that. Watch the first two minutes and forty seconds of this video, and you’ll see and hear the core of what I like about Tom Waits’s music and performance. There’s more I like beyond this (and I’ll bore you with that another day), but for now, just spend two minutes and forty seconds on this video.

“Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis” by Tom Waits

There. That was it. Thanks.

Uncle Crappy suggests that a fan might do well to check out the live performance of this song from a performance at the State Theatre, in Sydney, Australia, on May 2, 1979. The studio version is good too of course, and the album has “Wrong Side of the Road” and “Whistling Past the Graveyard,” and “Romeo Is Bleeding,” all of which will make your life richer.

Tomorrow: Christmas, surfside.

Kooky Christmas #18 & 17: “Indian Giver” & “Gift of the Magi” by Squirrel Nut Zippers

Squirrel Nut Zippers had a big hit years back, “Put a Lid On It,” and I’ve been a fan ever since.

In 1998 they put out a Christmas album that’s like no other: Christmas Caravan. It’s a crazy, hot jazz album with some slow and sweet bits threaded through (and an eerie final track that makes you want to hug your sweetie close). It’s difficult to choose just one song from it, so let’s take two.

Kooky Christmas #18: “Indian Giver” by Squirrel Nut Zippers

You know that friend who gives you a lovely sweater or new and well-reviewed book, then borrows it from you right away and never returns it? This song is for her. It barely seems like a Christmas song at all, but Santa puts in an appearance so we know it counts.

The video is a fan video with photos of the band. The sound quality is good though.

“Indian Giver” by Squirrel Nut Zippers

Kooky Christmas #17: “The Gift of the Magi”

I was introduced to the concept of irony by the O. Henry short story “The Gift of the Magi.” It nearly exploded my mind. If somehow you missed this story in high school, you can listen to this song and use it as your Cliff’s Notes.

For those who have read the story (spoilers!): I never quite dug the problem in the story. Her hair will grow back. Heck, she can grow it long, sell it again, use the money to retrieve the watch from the pawn broker, and then grow it yet again and everyone is happy. What’s the big deal? Maybe my view is different from everyone else’s; my hair grows really quickly.

No video for this one, so you’ll just have to buy the song and listen. Heck, treat yourself and buy the whole album.

Next on Kooky Christmas: Not everyone likes the gifts people give these days for Christmas.

Kooky Christmas: #19, “Bizarre Christmas Incident” by Ben Folds

We turn now to the seedier side of our Kooky Christmas (if philandering Santas weren’t seedy enough for you).

Now Santa has turned to robbery, and the results are unpleasant for everyone involved.

Number 19: “Bizarre Christmas Incident” by Ben Folds

This song comes to us from Maybe This Christmas, a compilation of alternative artists from 2002. In the concert video below, Ben tells the true life story behind the song.

UPDATE: Lyrics NSFW, and not kid-friendly either. Funny though.

Concert video of “Bizarre Christmas Incident” by Ben Folds

The album has a mix of artists performing both original and traditional songs. It’s a mixed bag, but with priceless gems like this how could I skip it? to see more, click here: Maybe This Christmas.

Next up on Kooky Christmas: Santa may not be as generous as he’s made out to be….

Kooky Christmas: #20, “The First Noel” by Crash Test Dummies

Picking up where we left off last year, let’s continue counting down my top 25 Kooky Christmas songs.

“The First Noel,” Crash Test Dummies

Those of us who remember when MTV played music videos all the time may remember Crash Test Dummies from their hit, “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm,” notable for the extreme low bass of the lead singer and the ubiquitous funny/creepy video.

I was never much enamored of the band, but I like how they perform this classic Christmas carol. I hadn’t seen the video before tonight, and I’m delighted to say it’s pretty darn kooky as well.

“The First Noel” by Crash Test Dummies

In tomorrow’s Kooky Christmas: Santa meets an timely demise.

25 days of Christmas

Oh hey! It must be December.

I’ve been scurrying through the last few weeks (months), head down and nose to grindstone, largely oblivious to the seasons. But I can’t help but notice that holiday music is back. Even my own iTunes has started playing it, unprompted by me.

The other night I turned on the TV for a small break, and WQED was showing a concert by Straight No Chaser. I recognized the name — I had blogged about their witty a capella version of “Twelve Days of Christmas” in 2007. Apparently the success of that YouTube video and recent interest in glee clubs has brought them fame, fortune, and a nationwide tour.

“Twelve Days of Christmas” by Straight No Chaser

All of which serves to remind me that I am far, far behind schedule in posting my annual Holiday Music Countdown. It’s already Day 2! And I don’t have a theme!

As it happens, last year I became so busy in December that I failed to finish my countdown of the 25 kookiest holiday songs. So the obvious solution is to resume that countdown, as if the intervening year had never happened. OK? OK!