Let me get the disclaimers out of the way upfront.
(1) I am an unapologetic traditionalist when it comes to Christmas. Don’t move my Christmas cheese.
(2) The opinions about to be expressed are mine and even though they are rich in undeniable truth, I fully recognize that no matter how wrong you may be, you may not agree with them. Please try to get over it.
(3) If I come off as old and grouchy, it’s because I’m old and grouchy.
Every year at this time, when Christmas music begins filling the airwaves, I begin compiling in my mind a list of Christmas albums that should never have been made. There certainly is no shortage of Christmas music out there and if you listen to enough of it, you will eventually hear songs that you will consider a waste of time and resources. The body of Christmas music was probably fully realized years ago and anything recorded after that is simply redundant and adds no value to the body of work. And unless the music brings something totally new to the arena, I have to wonder why, other than a holiday money-grab, these recordings were ever made in the first place.
Just because you have access to a recording studio and you think you could sell a few Christmas albums to a tiny group of diehard fans, doesn’t mean you should try to find 10 or 12 holiday songs to fill a CD and promote it as if it were something new. It will more than likely end up on someone’s list of Christmas music that never should have been made.
For instance, anything recorded for Christmas by the Ronettes or any other studio girl-band from the 50’s and 60’s. Or anything “holidays” by James Brown. Or Bruce Springsteen, for that matter. He sounds disturbingly upset at the prospect of “Santa Claus Coming To Town!” My teeth itch anytime I hear Eartha Kitt purring, “Santa Baby” and Madonna’s more recent re-recording of that effort just proves my point that it’s possible to waste electricity and vinyl on such ridiculous songs. (Personally, I prefer Miss Piggy’s version to either one of the aforementioned.)
Chuck Berry singing, “run, run Rudolph”?… really?
If I hear Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” many more times, I may swear off of rock AND Christmas trees. I swore off of Brenda Lee years ago. I’m a huge Beach Boys fans, but… a Christmas collection? Painful! Even the sainted Paul McCartney has done some really bad Christmas songs and he’s man enough to admit it.
“Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”, in my opinion, didn’t happen soon enough or permanently enough. And how about those incredibly talented dog impersonators barking out, “Jingle Bells”? If that ain’t a crowd pleaser! And Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” doesn’t even make a good musical background for a taco commercial, let alone adding something meaningful to the body of Christmas music.
But nothing even comes close to last year’s release of the barely anticipated Bob Dylan Christmas album. I’m a huge Bob Dylan fan, but… this one leaves me practically speechless. I’m not exaggerating when I confess that blood was spurting from my ears the entire time I listened to this collection. It was a cross between hilarious and homicidal, neither of which, I’m sure, was the intention. Listen to it at your own risk!
After listening to me rant on this subject earlier this month, my wife put the whole thing in perspective for me. She pointed out that if I had 30 days of air time that I had to fill with Christmas music for 24 hours a day, I’d end up scraping the bottom of the barrel, too. Probably so.
But let me conclude by saying to recording artists and music executives everywhere that before being tempted to add to the growing list of worthless, awful, wasteful, tasteless, irritating, redundant, ear ache-inducing Christmas music, consider this:
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
What Christmas music do you consider a waste of time, talent and natural resources?
- Bill Love