Friday, December 21, 2018

My Favorite Rock and Roll Christmas Songs

While I love Christmas (minus the crass commercialization), I normally can't stand Christmas music. This is mainly because of how ubiquitous and annoying it is on radio stations and over shop speakers from the moment Thanksgiving ends until December 25th. Most Christmas pop music is also cheesy (I swear if I hear "Last Christmas" or "All I Want For Christmas is You" one more time...); add in the fact that most radio stations play the same 10-12 songs on an endless loop all month and you might be starting to see why I can't stand it. Even my beloved rock music isn't immune as most rock Christmas songs are either overly schmaltzy (see: Bruce Springsteen's version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town") or downright bad. That being said, with Christmas only a few days away I thought I'd share some of my favorite rock and roll Christmas songs. These are songs I never get tired of hearing even during the rest of the year. In no particular order:

John Lennon - Happy Xmas (War is Over)

Does it suffer from being a bit too of its time (the height of the Vietnam War)? Yes. Does it suffer from ripping off the melody to the old English folk song "Skewball"? Yes. Does the children's choir make it a bit cheesy? Yes. Does it suffer from including Yoko Ono? Hell yes. Still, it's a pretty song whose message is mostly still as relevant in 2018 as it was in 1971. Plus John's voice, as always, is simply fantastic.



Paul McCartney - Wonderful Christmastime

John's former songwriting partner in the Beatles got into the act in 1979 with his slightly more saccharine take on a Christmas song. Paul was working on his McCartney II solo album and threw this song together in a couple of days. It's since become a Christmas standard alongside Lennon's song. While it doesn't have the gravitas of John's song, Paul's song is fun and shows how he can effortlessly come up with a catchy melody as easily as you or I breathe. It's been said he makes approximately $400,000 a year in radio play royalties from the song...not bad for something dashed off in between album sessions. 



The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping

I love 1980s music, and it's not just because I grew up during that decade and have a fierce nostalgia for it. Pop music in the 1980s was fun as hell and the memories it evokes of my childhood, the good times I had, and the more innocent world it was are very powerful. I've always had a soft spot for The Waitresses one-hit-wonder-hit "I Know What Boys Like," but the other song they're known for is their 1981 funk/New Wave song "Christmas Wrapping." (Does that make them a two-hit wonder?). Vocalist Patty Donahue's laconic singing style is perfect for the wry and Ray Davies-esque lyrics about a woman who is too tired to have fun during Christmas and decides to spend it alone before the fates intervene. And that bass line...




Speaking of Ray Davies...

The Kinks - Father Christmas

My choice for the greatest rock and roll Christmas song of all time is this Kinks classic. In typical Kinks fashion, Ray Davies wrote a killer rock song with humorous lyrics that have a more powerful message below the surface. If you don't know the words (or can't figure them all out), I urge you to look them up. They're funny, poignant, and contain his classic social commentary without bludgeoning the listener over the head. All of that and it's just a great song.


That's my list...what are some of your favorite rock or pop Christmas songs?

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