My TBTS Christmas Album, 2012
With Christmas just around the corner, the holiday pinch is upon us (or, if you’re Jewish, just over). For those of us celebrating Santa’s arrival this year, holiday music abounds — from (Mariah) Carey to Carrie (Underwood), everyone has a Christmas album. So why not the Brown Tweed Society? After all, we’re festive, right? Here, then, are a few selections from what would be, if we had the rights and permissions to print such, the lineup of what might be TBTS’ Christmas Album 2012: Yule It Up!
(Click on song title to hear via link)
“Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home),” U2 — The opener’s a tough call, and even tougher when you factor in that Darlene Love’s original version of this tune is just as good as this cover from the boys from Ireland. Still, it’s nice to see Bono having fun for a moment, and that doesn’t seem to happen a lot, so the edge goes to U2.
“Let it Snow” – Luscious Jackson — While it’s true that this four-girl nineties alt-group’s day in the sun effectively ended with the ringing in of a new millennium, you have to enjoy the poppy goodness of Luscious Jackson’s winter cover tune, especially the groovy breakdown in the final third.
“Mr. Heatmiser,” Big Bad Voodoo Daddy — The swing revival may be on its way out, but that doesn’t mean that this brassy, almost Dixieland-esque cover of a 1974 tune from Rankin & Bass’ A Year Without Santa Claus — in which the heat does battle with the cold — doesn’t kill it. It’s so much damn fun and definitely worth seeking out for something a little different.
“Frosty the Snowman,” Man or Astroman? — You gotta love Alabama surf-rockers and perennial cult favorites Man or Astroman? covering the children’s fave, even if it strikes more than a passing musical resemblance to The Champs’ “Tequila.”
Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight),” The Ramones — The closing track off Joey & Company’s 1989 Brain Drain pops up every now and again on Christmas channels, but not nearly enough. The Ramones couldn’t get any airplay even by writing a goddamn Christmas tune, which should have guaranteed that. Oh well. It still exists, and it’s still wonderful.
“All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth,” Count Von Count — To celebrate the golden voice of muppet voice actor Jerry Nelson, let’s include this track from A Sesame Street Christmas in which the beloved, obsessive compulsive character laments all he can’t do because of his missing incisors. The closing line is grand: “Nine ‘merries!’ One ‘Christmas!’ Two ‘teeth!'”
“Christmas Is All Around,” Billy Mack — This may be cheating a bit, but anyone who’s seen and loves the feel-good Love, Actually will appreciate this inclusion, of washed-up rocker Billy Mack (a fantastically droll Bill Nighy) cashing in with a hit for the holidays that he knows is god-awful. Now let’s get pissed and watch porn.
“Santa’s Beard,” They Might Be Giants — It may or may not be an actual Christmas song, for all intents and purposes it belongs in this compilation. A cautionary tale about a man whose wife may or may not be shacking secretly up with the man with the bag, and a pitch-perfect example of TMBG in the late eighties. If you think about it, there is very little beard care discussed at all.
“You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” Deanna Kirk — In what may well be the running for one of my all-time favorite Christmas tunes ever, Ms. Kirk’s almost free-form jazz cover of the Dr. Seuss classic swings wildly from the slide of a clarinet and the thump of an upright bass to the choral intonations of all the Who’s down in Whoville. Tons o’ fun.
“Merry Christmas,” Wesley Willis — Yes, yes. I know. It sounds just like all Wesley Willis tunes. And yes, I know, it mostly consists of a 30 second repetitive musical break and Willis shouting “Merry Christmas” over and over. But as Willis himself says, “that is what it is all about in a mix,” and that’s why it’s here.
“Christmas in Hollis,” Run DMC — You’re going to see this on a lot of other hipster Christmas lists, and not just this one, but I will still fight you if you try to take it off.
“I Wish It Was Christmas Today,” Julian Casablancas — The Strokes frontman covered this tune, from many the finale of an SNL Christmas episode, on an episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon as a surprise to Fallon. If there’s any such thing as a new Christmas carol, this should be considered one.
“Fairytale of New York,” The Pogues — An anti-carol about a bickering couple who alternately hates and loves one another, this Pogues masterpiece remains a holiday tribute to a punk-era Big Apple. Nothing says Christmas like the timeless lines “You scumbag you maggot/You cheap lousy faggot/Merry Christmas your arse/I pray god it’s our last.” And yet, it’s a stunningly beautiful tune.
“Merry Christmas from the Family,” Robert Earl Keene — A lovely, lazy tale of a trailer-park Christmas, the rowdy denizens of a family which may have problems but no lack of love, and a fitting closer to this list. Hallelujah, everybody say cheese. And Happy Holidays from TBTS.