My five songs of Christmas
A guy I follow on Facebook wrote the other day that if anyone posted ‘All I Want For Christmas’ or ‘Last Christmas’ on their timeline, he’d unfriend them.
A bit extreme, but I kind of get what he means. When you hear them every time you turn on the radio or walk into a shop, do you really want them taking over your social media as well?
Having said that, I do like the way certain songs get you into the Christmas spirit.
They’re not the same songs for everybody. A lot of people here in the UK think it’s Christmassy to listen to songs with the words ‘Sausage Roll’ shoehorned into them.
Each to their own, as my dad used to say.
In that spirit, I thought I’d share my five favourite Christmas songs with you.
Here goes …
#5: ‘How To Make Gravy’ – Paul Kelly
This is an absolute Aussie classic, in which the protagonist can’t spend Christmas with his family because he’s locked up in jail.
But being sentimental types, Aussies have embraced the song as an expression the emotions you feel when you can’t spend Christmas with family for any kind of reasons, including death.
A real tear-jerker of a version was released in 2021.
The video featured Aussies all over the world separated from their families because of COVID.
Paul Kelly is such a great storyteller. As an expat Aussie living on the other side of the world, 20,000 ks away from my family, it’s a song that really hits me in the feels, as they like to say Downunder.
I do have one caveat though. I’d probably make the gravy a little differently to Paul. I do a really nice onion and Marsala gravy I got out of an old Nigel Slater cookbook and it always goes down a treat.
#4 The Hives & Cyndi Lauper In ‘A Christmas Duel’
Here’s a festive song guaranteed to make you feel better if you’re having a shit Christmas.
Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist from The Hives and Cyndi Lauper going after each other with hammers and tongs, both lyrically and vocally.
As Christmas tunes go, it’s incendiary.
A guy in the comments section on YouTube makes the observation that it feels like the sequel to ‘Fairytale of New York’.
It has the same energy. The action has just shifted from the drunk tank to the Christmas table. And the gloves are well and truly off.
You’ve probably guessed by now that this is not your typical Christmas song. And it would be remiss of me not to say that parental discretion should be observed before playing it.
But the song does serve a very special purpose during the festive season.
It’s a reminder that no matter how bad your Christmas gathering is going, it’s nowhere near as bad as the one Cyndi and Pell are having are having in this song.
#3 ‘The Man In The Santa Suit’ – Fountains of Wayne
Not too much to say about this one.
It’s just a beautifully observed song about the trials and tribulations of a department store Santa.
It’s funny, it’s sad and it’s eminently hummable.
Just like all Fountains of Wayne songs.
#2 ‘Silent Night’ – Annika Norlin
Before you scroll past this with a yawn, just let me tell you that this is not Silent Night.
Well, not the Silent Night you know and are probably sick and tired of, especially this time of year.
Rather, it’s an imagining of how that song was written. And it is absolutely beautiful.
If you like fragile, melancholic female Scandi vocals, this is for you.
If not, give it a go anyway.
And then go check out Annika’s work as Hello Saferide, or even her other tracks on ‘Correspondence,’ the collaboration she did with Jens Lekman.
Consider it my Christmas present to you this year.
#1 ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)’ – The Darkness
I will fight anyone that does not agree with me that this is the best Christmas song ever.
It’s everything a Christmas song should be. It’s joyous and fun and more than a little bit silly. And it has the added bonus that it really rocks.
More importantly, it’s something I have with my daughter.
Ever since she was little it has been ‘our’ Christmas song.
Each year we watch the video, air guitar the solos and yell ‘Come on, kids!’ when Justin Hawkins invites the children carollers into his ski chalet.
And we both laugh at the part where Justin stumbles are he goes out the door to do the guitar solo.
Is it wrong that I encouraged my daughter to sing along with a grown man in cat suit singing about bell’s ends and ring pieces from such a young age? That’s something for her therapist to sort out.
All I know is that the other day, at age 18, she streamed it on the stereo and said ‘NOW … it’s Christmas.’