My love of music is well known, see multiple previous posts, but one kind of music just bugs the crap out of me – Christmas music. It is almost exclusively garbage, full of banality, cliche and triteness. Of course, there’s no avoiding it at this time of year, but at least once you leave the store you don’t have to deal with it until you walk into the next one. Nice to have the choice. Imagine having to listen to it for eight hours straight. This is what my life has been like since the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. There’s no avoiding it and it is driving me crazy.
For the first two weeks I was subjected to an endless stream of garbage spewed out by a never-ending stream of third-rate session singers. Do you know just how many versions of ‘Frosty The Snowman” there are? No? about a dozen by my reckoning, and all of them, with the exception of the Cocteau Twins version are dreadful. Imagine listening to each of them about four times each every day. Add in “Jingle Bells” “Winter Wonderland”, “Do They Know It’s Christmas” “Let It Snow” and every other bloody Christmas song you can imagine and you have some idea of the kind of audio hell my life has been.
DTKIC? is by far the worst, especially as one of the singers is doing what I’m going to say is his best to sound like Bono. It’s bad enough when Bono tries to sound like Bono, but I’ve heard better Bono impressions on a Friday night in Dublin after the pubs shut. I won’t even go into the fact that Africa has more Christians than any other continent, so yeah, I guess they do fucking know it’s Christmas. Imagine if Rachid Taha, Abdel Aziz El Mubarak, Cheb Khaled, and other great African singers got together to record a benefit song for Europeans called “Do They Know It’s Ramadan?” I can just imagine the lyrics – “Feeeeed the woooorld, but only between sunset and sunrise”.
But the worst thing of all is that so many of these so-called singers try to rework the songs by slowing them down by about 75%. Have you ever heard an eight minute version of “Jingle Bells” which sounds like the singer has been told to count backwards from ten by the anaesthesiologist. A truly terrible example is the version of “Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree” I had to endure about four times a day. Before I moved over here, I associated the tune “Tannenbaum” with “The Red Flag”, and I can tell you, the Russian Revolution took less time than it took to listen to this song. And then of course, there’s the Vince Guaraldi version from the rarely seen animated classic “It’s the peasants and workers revolution, Charlie Brown”.
Lest you think I’m some kind of Grinch, I’m not, ( See “Fuck Christmas’ to be proven otherwise)although the thoroughly twee and sickening version of “You’re A Mean One, Mister Grinch” which misses the point of the song entirely and turns it into a semi-comic joshing is enough to make me decamp to the top of Mount Crumpit. I own two Christmas L.P.s – “It’s A Holiday Soul Party” by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, which is just fantastic because, well… it’s Miss Sharon Jones. She does some well-known tunes, but my favourite has to be “There Ain’t No Chimneys In The Projects”. Nuff sed. The other is “Christmas Songs” by Bad Religion, in which they just storm through carols and Christmas favourites at full pace, driven along by a drummer who doesn’t pause for breath.
I only heard my all time favourite Christmas song once, and that was because it was playing on a customers’ car radio as I tied a tree onto the roof. I’m talking of course, about “A Fairytale Of New York” by The Pogues and Kirsty McColl. Of course there’s no way the store would play it, presumably because they don’t want complaints from parents who’ve just had their five year old ask “Mum, what’s a cheap, lousy faggot?” Also absent has been Siouxsie And The Banshees’ “Israel”, a classic, and well worth an airing, in my opinion. Last week wasn’t too bad by comparison, as the Tannoy was playing original recordings, but you know that there’s no hope for a song when even Mister Tony Bennett can’t save it.
Add to this the fact that we have had a Salvation Army bell-ringer camped outside for the whole time. It is a torture beyond compare. Send half a dozen of those guys to work at Guantanamo Bay and I guarantee that every inmate will confess to everything from the murder of Julius Caesar onward. It has been doing my head in, having to listen to the constant ringing, and I mean constant, except for the ringers’ breaks and lunch. I can tell you that if we had a longer cable for the electric chainsaw, the parking lot would have been filled with T. V. camera teams. The absolute nadir was last Thursday when we were joined by some carol singers. These guys could actually sing, they sounded fantastic, but the bell ringer kept going, and the store was pumping out its usual programme, and to have all three of these competing sounds going at once was just too much to take. Every man has his breaking point, and I reckon mine was less than a minute away when the carolers departed.
The thing is that due to tingling in my right hand brought about by loading and dragging all those trees I wake up about three or four times a night, and I can’t get back to sleep due to the discomfort and the fact that the songs from work are burned into my brain and have left a multitude of ear worms to torment me. Usually ear worms can be driven out by thinking of a song you like, but I just can’t get any songs I like to stick.
One thing of note has been that a lot of the songs have “Holidays” in the title instead of Christmas, as in “Home For The Holidays”, a song which to the best of my knowledge, along with a number of others, predates the start of Fox News’ bullshit narrative about the non-existent “War on Christmas”. FUCK YOU, SEAN HANNITY. I’d like you to do something for me: turn towards New York and yell at the top of your lungs “FUCK YOU, SEAN HANNITY!”. Again, “FUCK YOU, SEAN HANNITY!!”. Once more “FUCK YOU, SEAN HANNITY!!!”. There, don’t you feel better? I certainly do. I get a warm, fuzzy feeling just screaming the fucking words.
Merry/happy whatever holiday you celebrate.