A. Michael Uhlmann is back with this year’s Dys-FUN-ctional Christmas.
Once again Christmas is knocking on the door, actually rammed into your face if you go into any and I mean any retail store. Make me listen to another version of “Jingle Bells” and I will jingle your bells myself.
The time to be merry just doesn’t add up for everyone, so I went on the prowl again to find Christmas songs that are different, off the beaten track, like I did with my Honky Tonk Christmas in 2011 and my first edition of Dys-fun-ctional Christmas two years later.
The animated gif-meme up there was actually sent to me by a good friend I’m married to and to my astonishment, I actually found the appropriate song to work as a soundtrack. Not sure who is hiding behind the moniker Mrs. Claus, but her demand goes a tad further than to just wanting to kiss Santa under the mistletoe. Not sure if Mrs. Claus, who appears on the “X-RATED XMAS” compilation got her inspiration from the 2003 movie “Bad Santa” starring Billy Bob Thornton and Lauren Graham when she asks him to keep his hat on, while they are bouncing in his car.
From x-rated to G-rated, and 60 odd years back into the past. Not that all old Christmas songs are more innocent.
The recent discussion about “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” being a date-rape song may almost 75 years after its creation and a changed landscape, be eerily true in a contemporary surrounding. In the past, it may have conveyed as another society no-no, that of a woman actually being in charge of her own destiny fighting society no-nos and approaching a man on her own and then having societal doubts as in, a good girl doesn’t do this and that she really should leave.
But no, the throwback to older days I’m talking about, brings us to 11-year old Brenda Lee. During her first recording session in July ’56 with famous Nashville producer Owen Bradley, she also recorded two Christmas songs, and no, it’s not her more famous “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” (1958). That Decca peddled her to her fans as Little Brenda Lee, claiming she was only nine, makes “I’m Gonna Lasso Santa Claus” even more innocent.
Watching the new Netflix movie, the weirdly, funny “El Camino Christmas” (3.5 out 5) I was really intrigued by the to me, obscure opening theme,”¿Dónde Está Santa Claus?” while Luke Grimes (as Eric Roth) is driving into town. That ditty, written by George Scheck, Rod Parker, and Al Greiner is sung in the movie by somebody named Cruz Martin. Unfortunately, I could not find either his version or any additional information on that kid that’s begging his mom, to tell him where Santa may be.
But I did find the original from 1958, sung by 12-year-old Puerto Rican Augie Rios, managed by songwriter George Scheck. His original 45 on Metro was backed with the not really charming “Ol’ Fatso (I Don’t Care Who You Are Old Fatso, Get Those Reindeer Off My Roof).” Well, lesson learned as a non-believer you aren’t a receiver.
Bing Crosby together with the Andrews Sisters had a huge, seasonal hit with it – the talk is about the only Hawaiian Christmas song I know, “Mele Kalikimaka.” There are quite a number of versions around, I’m not completely sure anymore whose version I heard first when I used to do a Holiday themed radio show some 30 years ago around this time, but it may have been Poi Dog Pondering with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band from a Christmas compilation called “Acoustic Christmas.” For this blog, I found this gorgeous live version by roots musician Pokey LaFarge which was recorded on a local St. Louis, Missouri metro train.
While searching for versions for “Mele Kalikimaka” I also stumbled upon Kacey Musgraves, not only has she her own version of that song, but she also incorporates part of it, in a song where she wishes everyone “A Willie Nice Christmas” together with – you guessed it – the redheaded stranger himself, Willie Nelson. It doesn’t really matter if you are in Luckenbach (photo) or in Waikiki, just have a Willie Willie nice Christmas.
Chicago record label, Bloodshot Records came out with a new compilation this year called “13 DAYS OF XMAS” that features – among 12 other acts – Nashville singer-songwriter Zach Schmidt’s “I’m Drunk Again This Christmas.” Schmidt told Rolling Stone Country magazine when approached by the label to do a Christmas song: “I immediately thought about my distaste for Christmas and how, for a lot of people, it is often a terrible time of year. So I decided to write about what I thought was a stereotypical American Christmas: a family who doesn’t really care for each other but is there anyway because it is Christmas.” As a disclaimer, he hopes that mentioning his dad in the song was just purely for reasons of rhyming and somehow less of meaning in this else autobiographical song.
Joe Pesci as lounge singer Cousin Vinnie just wonders what happens how “fat-fuck” is running his sleigh if there is no snow on the ground. Until the next time, I have enough obscure Christmas songs to write another installment of “Dys-FUN-ctional Christmas.”
By the way and that’s not a joke, did you know that there are more babies born in September than in every other month of the year. Do the math. To use Pesci’s words: “Get the fuck out of here.” Hug your loved ones and have a merry fuckin’ Christmas or is it a fuckin’ Merry Christmas?