My car is quite possibly the most annoying place to be during the month of December. That’s because I listen to Christmas music almost non-stop. I have an entire CD wallet full of CDs that I bust out between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and a preset on Sirius for holiday music. Now, this may seem like a far way to go to listen to the sounds of the season, especially when there is a regular radio station that plays non-stop Christmas music, but the station near me plays a pretty bad selection. Everything on Z-95.1 is too inspirational or the same bad Sinatra (or Sinatra impersonator’s) rendition of an otherwise okay song.
Especially missing is the humor. Oh sure, they’ll play “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” and some stay-at-home mom with the fashion sense of an elementary school art teacher will call in a request for “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” but those songs aren’t very good and even if I did like them, it’s not worth listening to Dan Fogelberg to get to them.
When I was younger, the local deejays would run the occasional Christmas song and not a 24-7 holiday barrage that we have now, and while they played their fair share of traditional Christmas tunes, some of the rock stations (I was particularly attached to WBAB, the classic rock station that was one of the very few my radio actually picked up) would find the time to play something out of the ordinary. WBAB is the reason I’m so familiar with The Kinks’ “Father Christmas” and The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping,” but it’s also the reason I am familiar with Bob Rivers’ Twisted Christmas tunes and other warped material.
So, if you are being forced to suffer through little brats singing about hippos, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra playing the caroling of bells as if it has explosions, or versions of “Do You Hear What I Hear” that are so epic you expect to hear Gandalf shout “You shall not pass!”, may I present five songs that will provide some relief.
1. “The Twelve Pains of Christmas” by Bob Rivers: I think everyone I grew up with on Long Island knows this song by heart, and can all especially identify with the guy who complains through the entire song about having to rig up Christmas lights, concluding the song by shouting, “Fine! You’re so smart, YOU rig up the lights!”
2. “It’s the Most Fattening Time of the Year” by Bob Rivers: Here’s another that I don’t think got a lot of play along with “The Twelve Pains of Christmas” (I think I had heard “We Wish You Weren’t Living With Us” and a Jerry Garcia/Grateful Dead-inspired parody of “O Come All Ye Faithful” at one point or another); instead, I came across it during the halcyon days of illegal mp3 downloading when you could get just about everything and anything from Napster (or Morpheus or Kaazaa or whatever was in use at that point) and was building my own personal Christmas music collection.
I did a little looking into this one and the thing that makes it absolutely hilarious (aside from the line “It’s too cold to go jogging, too brisk for tobogganing, so pass me a hot buttered roll”) is the appearance by Richard Simmons (and yes, that’s actually Richard Simmons) trying to coach us through all of the gluttony of the season. Pure gold, that.
3. “Santa’s Going to Kick Your Ass” by The Arrogant Worms: Now I KNOW I never heard this on the radio, and I downloaded it during a “I need to get all of the non-Rush, non-Anne Murray, non-Bryan Adams Canadian music I need” binge. I got a lot of random stuff out of it and this particularly foul-mouthed sound of the season is one of the best.
4. “Huge on the Luge” by Moxy Fruvous: At the same time I was on that downloading bender and got the previous Arrogant Worms song, my friend Paul loaned me a ton of music, including an album by Moxy Fruvous. I then went to their website and downloaded this for free. It was the last one I ever downloaded of theirs and is a great alternative to that freaking Elmo and Patsy song that gets so much play this time of year.
5. “Christmas At Ground Zero” by “Weird Al” Yankovic: I don’t know if this ever really got any airplay when it came out in the mid-1980s, and I’m sure it probably doesn’t now because the phrase “Ground Zero” has a much different connotation than what Al was singing about. In his case, it is ground zero of a nuclear holocaust and I first encountered this in the early 1990s when I borrowed a friend’s copy of The Weird Al Yankovic Video Library. If anything, the video is worth watching because Al had the genius idea of mixing in holiday fun with nuclear preparedness film footage. It’s a mash-up, in a way, before mash-ups were a dime a dozen on YouTube. And watch for a certain presidential cameo.
So I hope this has been a bit of relief for your headache and the very best to you and yours this holiday.