Tag Archives: Kooky Christmas

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!

Kooky Christmas Countdown: #22 and #21

Continuing our Kooky Christmas Countdown of strange and wonderful holiday songs.

Number 22: "Five Pound Box of Money" by Pearl Bailey

Here’s a heartfelt plea from a practical woman.

Hey, Santa Claus!
You want to make me happy this year?
Listen to me honey.
Give Pearl something that’ll be of some use to me,
Like a five pound box of money.

Now there’s a little gift
That’s loaded with
Lots of sentiment
See, whenever I get blue, Santa,
I’m gonna think of you,
And at the same time I’ll have the change to pay my rent.

Money isn’t everything.
There’s no two ways about it.
But while we’re here,
Santa dear,
It’s much better with than without it.

You can listen to the song on YouTube. (If you find a video of her singing it, please let me know.) Or find it on Hipsters’ Holiday, one of my favorite holiday compilations.

Pearl Bailey was an award-winning Broadway performer, and as best I can tell she’s the only person who’s ever recorded this song.

If you’re interested, check out Miss Bailey on the Muppet show, in a particularly surreal clip made up of parodies of songs from musicals, thrown together in a Muppet version of Camelot (although none of the songs comes from the musical Camelot).

Number 21: "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses

Either you like this song, or you hate it, or you liked it the first couple of times you heard it and now you hate it, or you liked it and then hated it and now you’re back to liking it again.

I fall into that fourth camp. I think it’s the line "A&P has provided me / With the world’s smallest turkey" that does it for me.

Not sure if you know the song? Listen to it on Last.fm: "Christmas Wrapping."

Kooky Christmas Music Countdown: #23

Our next sound in the Kooky Christmas Countdown is a late punk classic.

Number 23: “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight)” by The Ramones

Some background from Mistletunes.com:

The Ramones were actually pretty slow to jump on the punk rock Christmas bandwagon; this is from 1989’s Brain Drain album and also appeared on the occasional B-side and compilation since, like The Edge of Christmas and Rhino’s Punk Rock Xmas, which notes its version is from the UK single. It’s fairly self-explanatory; look at the beauty of the season, why can’t we stop fighting, and so on. Writer (the late, great) Joey Ramone dedicates it to his girlfriend.

The video is a classic late 80s cheesy wonder.

Kooky Christmas Countdown: #25 and #24

It’s past time to start the My Brilliant Mistakes version of an advent calendar, our annual music countdown. This year the theme is "Kooky Christmas," and we’ll be highlighting strange and wonderful music of the season.

Number 25: "Santa’s Beard" by They Might Be Giants

What could be more appropriate to the season than a tale of infidelity and betrayal? They Might Be Giants included "Santa’s Beard" on their 1989 album Lincoln.

 

Number 24: "Christmas Wish" by El Vez

Poor El Vez. His baby went away, "one year to the day," and he wishes only for her this Christmas.

This would be a fairly standard, sappy song with a sarcastic twangy guitar and mournful vocal — except for the sound effects. You have to hear it for the sound effects: Click to listen to "Christmas Wish" by El Vez.

I found this track on Starbucks Hi-Fidelity Holiday, a special release from about a decade ago. This CD is a treasure-trove of strange Christmas music. We’ll be coming back to it through the month.

 

There may well be stranger Christmas music. Do you know some? Share in the comments.