They say that the first step in recovery is admitting that you have a problem, so here goes:
Hi, my name is Colin and I have a holiday music hangover.
There are a lot of Christmas songs that I love to hear/sing, but there are also some that I simply despise with every fiber of my being, and those songs must go.
A bit of back story: after a torturous 18 months of piano lessons Mrs. Haynes, our neighborhood music instructor, took me to the side and recommended some other teachers that might be better suited to my “special needs”. I seemed to learn piano the same way horses learn to do math, through brutal repetition interspersed with negative reinforcement. Somehow, my lizard brain can still recall about half of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, but after that there is a wall. In retrospect, Mrs. Haynes wasn’t just cancelling my classes, she was putting a suffering beast out of it’s misery.
So, you could say that I’m not gifted, musically. The thing is, music is something that really
should run in my veins. My paternal grandfather emigrated to America from Brazil to escape a military coup (he says), but mostly I think he wanted to join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. So, for the next 30 years he did just that, touring the world and being super popular. I will admit that I have a soft spot for that ole’ Timey Tabernacle sound. I feel like the MoTab is a flavor that you pour on other music to make it seem more wholesome, like sonic wheat germ.
All warm fuzzies aside, however, my Grandfather’s choir falls breathlessly into one of the most heinous of holiday sins, the Christmas Song Album. Every time a musical group sells their soul by committing a Christmas album, a baby dove falls to the ground dead. Furthermore, does it feel like as soon as Summer Vacation is over the masochists that program Muzak for shopping centers release the floodgates of yuletide drek? I know it does for me. It seems that economic forces have made Christmas into the Superman of the Holiday Justice League, with Batman/Halloween and Wonder Woman/Thanksgiving just filling space for the Big Guy. That makes Memorial Day an Aquaman, I think.
I would now like to enumerate for you some of my most loathed holiday music.
1. Santa Baby Eartha Kitt 1954
This is the “Happy Birthday Mr. President” of holiday songs. I realize that things were different in the 50’s, with the rampant sexism andwhatnot, but this feels like the musical equivalent of a Mad Men episode. I don’t drink, but Santa Baby makes me want to. If Santa were a modern employee, this song would be legally actionable. Eartha Kitt was so great as Catwoman in the Adam West Batman series, what happened?
2. Jingle Bell Rock 1957 Bobby Helms
I will forever associate this song with leg cramps, thanks to the Windsor Elementary Holiday Program of 1987. Being the shortest and youngest boy in my grade I was thankfully put in the front row which, when I passed out, made my fall to the gym floor not too physically traumatic. When your teacher tells you not to lock your knees, she/he is not kidding.
As an aside, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree also makes me light-headed, and it seems like they always play these two back-to-back.
3. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
I’m not certain which institution of higher learning Dr. Elmo is an alumnus of. Let’s just assume, for now, that he is not board-certified. This song is pretty dark for a holiday classic. In fact, Dr. Elmo may be the Ghost of Christmas Future of this list. I will also never be able to un-hear the homophobia in Dr. Elmo’s voice when he mentions with a wink and a sneer that he would never give a license to “a man who plays with elves.”
4. Any version of any holiday song remixed with dogs barking. Any time, ever.
You too can remix a beloved classic with the Casio 5000. Don’t let complete tone-deafness and utter lack of taste stand between you and the righteous vengence of your listeners. To be fair, Jingle Bells is an OK song, minus the barking dogs. It reminds me of Mr. Krueger’s Christmas where Jimmy Stewart is riding through the snow covered Mountain West. Not to toot my own trumpet, (by which I mean, I will now toot my own trumpet) I am writing this very sentence in the building Jimmy Stewart was mopping in the opening scene of the beloved holiday masterpiece. Take that, American Fork High School guidance counselor that told me I should keep my future expectations “more realistic”!
So, how are you dealing with the Holiday Music Hangover?