Christmas has many traditions. Trees. Lights. Wreaths. People and houses made from gingerbread. And, of course, there’s the music. Literally the day after Thanksgiving the soft rock station in my area turned into a Christmas music station. There are an abundance of Christmas songs out there. Am I a Scrooge who is against Christmas music in that classic “Bah humbug!” way? Or do I love it all and want to just envelop myself in Christmas tunes? The answer is somewhere in between.
I don’t like any of the “standard” Christmas tunes. I’m talking about songs like “White Christmas,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and so on. They are a little dull. Even when David Bowie and Bing Crosby crooned “Little Drummer Boy” it doesn’t work for me. The music is too staid, the lyrics too banal. However, fortunately people didn’t decide that there were plenty of Christmas songs already and just stop making them. As such, we’ve got some fun Christmas songs that rose up in the era of rock music.
I dig “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee. It’s catchy and feels like almost any early rock song. Indeed, it is an early rock song, as it was released in 1958. I really enjoy that vibe. I can take a few listens to “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms. While I don’t like most versions of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” which is pretty high on the cheese factor, I don’t mind Bruce Springsteen’s version. The Boss seems to be enjoying himself, and that goes a long way.
It’s a somber song, but “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues is really good. That being said, it can be iffy to listen to now, and you can’t play it in mixed company, because they use a word that, in the slang of the time in the area they were from, was harmless but to most people the word carries a VERY different context. The best of the bunch, though, has to be “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” as made famous by Darlene Love. Love has a great voice, and she belts out this wall-of-sound pop classic. For many years, Love would sing the song on Letterman before Christmas, and it was always great. That’s my kind of Christmas tradition.
So yeah, you can keep your “Jingle Bells” and “Winter Wonderland.” I’ll take your “Run, Run Rudolph” and your “Little St. Nick.” My Christmas will sound a lot better as a result.