Tag Archives: Kooky Christmas

Kooky Christmas #11: “Deck the Stills” by Barenaked Ladies

Our wave of Kooky Christmas music is growing. My next selection is from a whole album of holiday oddity: Barenaked for the Holidays.

From the opening tune — a frenetic take on “Jingle Bells” — these songs all provide a new perspective on seasonal themes. You could choose almost any of these for the countdown.

#11: “Deck the Stills” by Barenaked Ladies

The strangest and most wonderful song on the album is “Deck the Stills”:

So wonderful, yet also so short. Let’s have another.

#11 supplement: “Elf’s Lament” by Barenaked Ladies

With all the excitement of Christmas and all the positive images of Santa, we rarely take a moment to consider the little people behind the big man. Yet these poor souls slave through the years, making presents for good girls and boys.
Sure, a few elves have been spotlighted through the years: Hermey in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, with his aspirations to be a dentist; Buddy from Elf; Legolas. But too often the elves toil unacknowledged.

In this song they make their protests heard.

“Elf’s Lament” (live) by Barenaked Ladies

Next on Kooky Christmas: more critique of Santa.

Kooky Christmas #12: “All I Want for Christmas” by Timbuk 3

Our next Kooky Christmas Countdown entry finds the atomic cloud inside the holiday’s silver lining.

#12: “All I Want for Christmas” by Timbuk 3

As much as this is an anti-war and anti-consumerism song, it’s also something of a fun flashback for anyone who grew up in the 1980s and had these toys. “Transformers? I had those! They were awesome!”

“All I Want for Christmas” by Timbuk 3

Probably the strangest aspect of this video is the description included by the guy who posted the video on YouTube. He disagrees with the politics of the video but apparently felt obliged to share it anyway. You might call that fair and balanced.

Find this on the power-packed compilation New Wave Christmas – Just Can’t Get Enough.

Up next on Kooky Christmas: The elves who make the toys are none too happy lately.

Lots and lots of kooky to go around

The more strange and wonderful things I post about Christmas, the more strange things others unearth, and the more I discover too, and the even more yet other people send me. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

1. First and foremost, there are the wonders of Burgh Baby’s Christmas Crazy — not just her own but everyone else’s. If you had any doubt that this holiday has gone over the top, please click and reconsider.

2. Not so much kooky as charming, Dyna Moe (the artist who makes those terrific Mad Men illustrations) compiles a collection of her holiday cards for the past decade.

3. Santanauts!

4. Ginny of That’s Church highlights the joys of the Pittsburgh Steelers holiday 2009 videos — most especially, Dick LeBeau’s sweet, dramatic reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

5. Finally, for those who are sick of the holiday season, there’s “The Twelve Days AFTER Christmas,” about what an angry lover did with the spoils of the season (thanks to my friend Alan for emailing me the tip):

“The Twelve Days AFTER Christmas” by the Mix Up Quartet

Kooky Christmas #13: “Must Be Santa” by Bob Dylan

Today on Kooky Christmas, we learn that we must be careful what we wish for.

#13: “Must Be Santa” by Bob Dylan

Just yesterday, I was thinking that I didn’t know any new Christmas album released this year by artists that I like. More of my favorite bands should make holiday albums, I thought.

And then I saw this video by one of my favorite musical artists:

“Must Be Santa” by Bob Dylan

It turns out that Mr. Dylan released an entire Christmas album in October — Christmas In the Heart (click to buy) — and I missed it.

Some thoughts:

  • Yes, that really does look to be Bob Dylan in the video.
  • No, I don’t know what’s going on with his hair.
  • For me, Dylan’s voice has never been his strong suit, and it has not improved through the years. What I tend to love about his performance is his song-writing — lyrics in particular. So I wouldn’t expect to enjoy hearing him sing other people’s songs. But having listened to the album, I find I rather like some of them. Your mileage may vary. (FYI: “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” is not one of the ones I like.) (UPDATE: One of the songs I enjoy is Dylan’s version of “Christmas Island” — the original of which is #15 on our countdown!)
  • When I throw a party, it is not generally like the party in the video. One time, it was — my grad school friends and I threw a progressive party where we went from one of our houses/apartments to the next, all in walking distance, getting progressively wilder and weirder. In my heart, this is the kind of party I always want to throw. (See also The Wild Party: The Lost Classic by Joseph Moncure March.)

Next year, I want there to be a Pixies Christmas album.

Next on Kooky Christmas: Not everyone likes the merchandising of Christma$.

Kooky Christmas #14: “Be-Bop Santa Claus” by Babs Gonzales

Digging into some jazz for number fourteen in the Kooky Christmas Countdown:

“Be-Bop Santa Claus” by Babs Gonzales

A Visit from St. Nicholas,” the poem by Clement Clarke Moore, has inspired many a kooky reading for entertainment-type purposes.

One that I particularly enjoy is Babs Gonzales‘s version, “Be-Bop Santa Claus.” It’s laden with fifties-era stereotypes, but it’s sweet at heart. Babs himself was primarily a scat-style vocalist in jazz’s bop period, recording with many Blue Note artists. There’s no scat in this number, but it gives us a taste of his rhythm and wit.

Find this tune on the essential compilation Hipsters’ Holiday: Vocal Jazz & R&B Classics. Or just grab the MP3, Be Bop Santa Claus.

Have a crazy cool Christmas! But don’t get knocked out.

Next up: From kooky to whacky.

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.