The halls are decked... or as decked as they can get when all the “decking” is stored in a whole bunch of plastic tubs in a storage facility in Los Angeles, and the “halls” are technically a pied-a-terre in San Francisco. But we scored a toolie little white-feather Christmas tree and a bunch of vintage pink ornaments at one of our favorite antiquing haunts, and me and The Husband-Type Man are settled in for a blissful, quiet, peaceful Krimma a deux. We didn’t want to try to rent someplace for the whole extended family, like last year, or fly someplace, like we have been, oh, EVERY FUCKING WEEK for the last three months. We just want to spend Christmas cooking and exploring and teasing and walking around the city and not having to pack an overnight bag for, like, five whole days in a row. We just want to spend some time playing together.
And blasting Krimma Music!
You guys should know by now that I, for one, have very specific and, erm, “special” taste in music on occasion. Christmas is surely no exception. On the one hand, yes, of course the new Aimee Mann Christmas album is getting a lot of play this year. Of course I’ve been singing along to my share of Bing and Doris and Mahalia and Nat while wrapping gifties (or, more likely, hashing through House Stuff for La Casita, and writing the Introductory Chapter of My Book for conference presentation in February). But with my insane Christmas Music Fetish, I find even my already-questionable taste in music is put to strange tests. I mean, how is it I can hate c(o)untry music, yet stomach Dolly’s “Hard Candy Christmas”? How can I loathe Michael Bolton, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, yet condone their presence on my Insane iPod Krimma Playlist?
There’s really only one solution. I need to embrace the badness, to accept my love of the unlovable as something Quintessentially Cheese-tastic (or, as Brookie once dubbed me, “Mme. Le fromage ce des odeurs aiment les pieds stinky”).
I just gotta admit:
Krimma Songs that I shouldn’t love... but I do
“Wonderful Christmastime” – Paul McCartney
I’ve seen, and taken part in, numerous online rumbles in support of this song. Sure, it’s no “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” or anything, you know, good like that. But The Cute Beatle, chirping over a cheese-wad synthesizer, with a sleigh-bell accompaniment, is, well, simply wonderful! It’s just... just... so silly! Open your hearts, you curmudgeons, and let the Wonderful Christmastime in. You won’t be sorry. Or if you can’t do that much, at least attempt the Barenaked Ladies’ abbreviated version, which is a rich and evocative celebration of the true essence of the song. Sorta.
“New Born King” – Pernell Roberts (aka Adam Cartwright)
First, let’s address the more trivial aspects of this particular musical selection. The song is sometimes called “Mary, Mary” (as per the Harry Belafonte album) or “Mary Had a Baby” (which gets it confused with the old spiritual I sang in 4 th grade choir about “the people keep a’comin’ but the train has gone”) as well as “New Born King,” or even “Newborn King,” so it can sometimes make it hard to track down. Not only that, but because it’s also an old spiritual, there are all sorts of modifications and changes with the lyrics. But it usually includes verses about “Mary, Mary had a little baby” and “Mary, what you gonna name your pretty little baby?” and “Some call him David, I think I'll call him Jesus” and “Some call him Manuel, I think I'll call him Jesus” or maybe it’s “Some call him David, I think I’ll call him Manuel” interspersed with variations of “Oh, glory, hallelujah,/Glory be to the new born king.” And the version of this that absolutely gives me gooseflesh and I can listen to on repeat a couple dozen times? Not Harry Belafonte or anything by such-and-such choir or anything with actual artistic integrity, but... um... the one on the Bonanza Christmas Album. Dudes, Adam Fucking Cartwright yodeling an old African-American spiritual should be all kinds of wrong on so many social and political (not to mention aesthetic!) levels, but- Oh, I give up! *punches the repeat button one more time*
“En El Barrio” – El Vez
I adore the El Vez Christmas albums anyway; The Husband-Type Man surprised me with his entire holiday collection some years ago after one of our Annual Krimmamusic Quests at Amoeba, and I don’t know how we lived with only the one bad mp3 of “Mamacita, Donde Esta Santa Claus?” for so long. So, “En El Barrio” is a mix of “In the Ghetto” with “Silent Night,” at least at first. By the end, it turns into “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “O Holy Night” and eventually “Champagne Supernova” (which becomes the much, much better “Souped-Up Chevy Nova”).
“El Pinata” is a close runner-up, for sheer annoyingness, but really, it can’t compare to “El Barrio.”
“Someday at Christmas” – Jackson Five
I just try to forget, okay? I mean, the little kid on the record isn’t the same monster we know now. So I try to let this song exist separately from what Michael – and Tito and Jermaine and Janet and the whole fucked-up clan – became. Here, they’re just a sweet, happy, cute and earnest boyband, singing a sweet and hopeful song. That’s the only way I can still stomach any Jackson 5. (I also love laughing at their version of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” because when Lil’ Pre-FUBAR Michael warbles about “what a laugh it would’ve been if daddy would’ve seen Mommy kissing Santa Claus that night!” you know Joe would’ve beaten Katherine’s ass six different times if such a thing would’ve happened, and then beaten Michael a couple times for good measure for telling. Not that any of this is funny, really, but it’s funnier than thinking about the Culties.)
“Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues
Nothing says Krimma like “You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot/ Happy Christmas you arse, I pray God it’s yer last!” And I just wish y’all could’ve seen Gramma’s face the first time she heard that one blasting out of the speakers at our pad....
“Christmas Wrapping” – The Spice Girls, Save Ferris
Sure, I love The Waitresses’ version. Who couldn’t? But I love The Spice Girls’ version even better. It’s all about the Sporty Spice! And then there’s Save Ferris’s, which is not only cute as hell, but is full of all sorts of local Los Angelesness (sometimes snarky, even!). This goy digs it!
“A Baby Just Like You” – John Denver
What could be shlockier? John Denver, warbling a tune to his new son, Zachary? With allusions like how Jesus was “a baby just like you” and how his new son has “given back my joy in life/You've filled me with new meaning”? WITH THE MUPPETS, no less? Isn’t that almost everything that should normally cause me to projectile vomit?
But wait, it gets worse...
“Christmas for Cowboys” – John Denver
Drivin’ cattle? Wide-open plains? Campfires and saddles and good-ol’-boy-redneckery? Cities suck, and yeehaw for me and my trusty horse? Isn’t that the antithesis of everything I believe in- nay, live?
But... but... but it sounds so beautiful, no, even sublime, when JD Deutschendorf sings about it with a simple acoustic guitar arrangement. Truth be told, John Denver had one of the most gorgeous and pure voices in the history of music. Just don’t tell my mom I said so. She’ll never ever let me live it down.
“Christmas Song” – Dave Matthews Band
I’m no DMB fan. I mean, I’m not a 19-year-old college kid tryin’ to score at 1 AM in my dorm room with the cute hook-up I met at a party earlier tonight. And I’m not going to get into the whole “OMG sellout!!!” or “OMG overrated!!!” arguments. I’m just going to talk about this song. Because it’s rad. It’s sweet and sad and hopeful and cynical and desperate and dorky and special. It manages to touch on the hypocrisy of contemporary Christianity without overt or obvious bitterness, yet celebrates the essential message of Christmas, Christ, and what SHOULD be the essential message of Christianity: love. It explores the conflicts between the history of Christianity itself and what Christianity has become in the contemporary world. It’s both immediately relevant and poignantly hippyish. That’s a tall order for a “Christmas song.” Good job, dudes.