Wednesday, December 03, 2008

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

If I may quote the late, skeletal Karen Carpenter:

“It's that time of year when the world falls in love.
Ev'ry song you hear seems to say ‘Merry Christmas,
May your New Year dreams come true.’
And this song of mine in three-quarter time,
Wishes you and yours the same thing, too.”

If you are a longtime reader of this blog o’ mine, then I just want to take the opportunity to say, “Hi, Mom!” But also, if you are a different longtime reader of this blog and you didn’t give birth to me, then you may have noticed that around this time of year, I get a little giddy about Christmas.

Last year I even gave my ode to Christmas movies. (“A Very Merry Christmas Movie.” You can read that by clicking here.)

This year, we are going to broach the subject of Christmas-y Tunes.

When we drag into the house our boxes of All Things Christmas, and there is finally room to park the van in the garage, we divide and conquer. Somebody is assembling the fake Christmas tree, somebody is hanging stockings, somebody is deciding which Christmas movies we are going to watch in which order, and somebody is usually fighting over who gets to hang the In-N-Out Burger Christmas ornament on the tree. And yes, usually I win. But while this is all going on, there is Christmas music playing. And the first CD played is a mix we all jointly made together four years ago.

It begins with the Johnny Mathis version of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Why Johnny Mathis? Don’t know. It was the version we had on hand when we created this Christmas mix, I guess. But I have to say, while I know nothing about the man, I find his version of this song invigorating. It makes me shake my moneymaker like nobody’s buh-riz-ness. I picture myself as Mr. Mathis, but in addition to singing the song, I am leading the orchestra that is knockin’ this song all over the place. Like I’m some sort of less-senile Mr. Kruger. 

Other gems include classics like Perry Como’s “(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays,” Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” and Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).” Also retro/classics like Bobby Helms’ “Jingle Bell Rock,” The Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick,” and Dean Martin’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside (The Date Rape Song).” Then finally, some modern stuff like Coldplay’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” U2’s “Baby, Please Come Home,” Sting’s “I Saw Three Ships,” and Annie Lennox’s “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.”

My kids come absolutely unglued when this CD is playing. They reach a level of hyper that machines can’t measure. It is a marathon of Christmas merriment. Also, not to be missed is my uncanny impression of Peggy Lee singing “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” (complete with fake cigarette and gyrations during the part where she says, “Every cou-ou-ple tries to stop…”) But my favorite part…the thing I wait all year for, is Katie’s impression of Faith Hill singing “Where Are You Christmas?” She won’t do it for me any other time of the year. I have to wait for this special holiday season to hear Katie/Faith turn the word “changing” into a 23-syllable word. “My world is ‘cheee-ee-a-ahhhhh-aa-ahn-gee-ah-ee-ing.” No wonder Faith can’t find Christmas. If I were Christmas, I would hide from her too.

Which leads me to my second point: Christmas Songs That Make Me Violent.

One of them is “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” There is nothing cute or redeeming about this song. I say give the brat a hippopotamus. She deserves what she gets. And when that hippo poops, I’ll say, “I hope there’s a shovel and some boots in your stocking. Any other large mammals you’d like to own? Didn’t think so.”

And while I will freely admit that as a child I found much humor in “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” I have emphatically boycotted that song in my home. My children don’t know it. First of all, it is disrespectful to my mother. If a reindeer ran over my mother and killed her, as the song suggests, believe me, that reindeer would be jerky by New Year’s Eve. Plus, to suggest my mother is some sort of eggnog-guzzling lush and wears a silver-blue wig? Please. Is nobody else offended by this drivel?

And finally, this next song itself doesn’t raise my eyebrows, but gives me pause. Just a cautionary word: If you are approached about stepping into a studio and singing a rendition of “Santa Baby,” then congratulations, society views you as the recording industry’s biggest hooch.  From the original Eartha Kitt to Madonna, to Kylie Minogue, to RuPaul, to The Pussycat Dolls, to Miss Piggy and finally, Calista Flockhart. (Who, let’s be honest, actually could hurry down the chimney tonight. With room to spare.)

So crank those Christmas tunes. Turn it up! Get jiggy with it! Rock around that Christmas tree! And I’m leaving the comments on – so if you have any suggestions for Christmas songs I simply must hear, please let me know! (P.S. If your recommendation mentions buying Christmas shoes or Celine Deon singing in Spanish, please don’t send me a mix CD for Christmas.) (And if you want to see my Peggy Lee impression or Katie’s Faith Hill impersonation, stop on by!)


Jonelle Hughes said...

Comments? On? It must be Christmas! Well, I feel like it is right now anyway! Santa Baby makes me feel embarrassed and uncomfortable too, even when I am not wearing gold lame'. There's another song I do not like to hear and I cannot place the name right now, but after 3 Christmas' working at the Gap in HS and College,and it playing on an endless loop on the "cassette" tapes they would send us for shopper's cheer...eek! I happen to love Diana Krall at Christmas and the oldies but goodies too. My favorite is a fiddle/violin christmas cd by an old local friend. But, what I am wondering is why I have not found a copy of your christmas mix cd, say, um, on my Winder Farms cooler? I mean if you guys are going to wake me out of a sleeping slumber to leave your um, house key there, then don't you think a cd is in order? I mean the fresh baked bread was fantastic, but really! ;)


Anonymous said...

Josh Groban: Little Drummer Boy. Hated this song until I heard this version.
There are so many good ones to pick from...

Jas said...

May I recommend "Christmas Song" by Dave Matthews Band. Quirky and mellow, but good.

Very funny blog (which I expect out of you!) Thanks for including me!


PS. The U2 countdown has begun!

Reyna said...

We too have a very sacred Christmas mix that is played on a loop from Thanksgiving until Christmas. The Christmas song we enjoy that is so-horribly-bad-it-can-only-be-considered-delightful is, "The Cat Carol". Yes, you heard me..."The Cat Carol." by Meryn Cadell. I have no idea how we came to own this song, but holy cow, it's bad. Do yourselves a favor: Buy this song from itunes, Pour some Southern Comfort Eggnog, and prepare to live!

The Yates Family said...

Oh Bing, what would Christmas be without you. That's the first one I pull out. Yes, I know you think you are SOOOOO old, but the Yates aren't too far behind ya. Jocey's favorite Bing is "Jingle Bells." It's a riot to watch her dance and jingle to it.

Kathy said...

I know Christmas is not complete unless John hears a little "Christmas in Hollis" by Run DMC. I, on the other hand, love it all, even if it means a shovel in my stocking and giant poopy's all over my backyard. Wait, I don't like Santa Baby or Grandma getting run over either. Oh, and all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth....please, what kid only wants that!!

Merry Christmas!

Lara said...

I love me some Christmas music too but as I've gotten older, I only care for the songs about Christ or being good and doing good. Basically, I'm over "Winter Wonderland," "Chestnuts Roasting..blah, blah, blah." (Next year, when I have a kid - I may have to eat all of these words but I will cross that bridge when it comes.)

So on that note, I will recommend the following music/albums:

- I second the vote for "Christmas Song" by Dave Matthews.

- "Angels Running" by Cher

- Nearly the entire album of Jewel's "Joy-A Holiday Collection"

- And if you like a little soul, BeBe & CeCe Winan's "The First Noel" off of another one of my faves - David Foster's "The Christmas Album". I skip some of the songs though.

Angela and Mike said...

haha, very nice post Ken. I agree about the Hippo song, and the voice of that child singing it is possibly the most annoying voice ever. Mike and I personally like to make fun of the Aaron Neville songs. His voice goes in and out (that's his style) and so you only actually ever catch HALF of what he says. I feel like you should only have to pay for half the song!

Merry Christmas!

Heather said...

So, I stalked you off of Katie Mills blog and happy I did. Transiberian Orchestra, need I say more?! ha!

Anonymous said...

Dominick the Donkey. Yes, it's a Christmas song and possibly more annoying than any of the others, but there is something about it that makes you listen to the end.
Look it up on You Tube.

Holli said...

I think you left off a very important song - Neil Diamond's "Little Drummer Boy". No one does those "pah-rum-pum-pum-pums" like Neil.

And of course, the whole Ricky Tanner album, but I guess that needs to be its very own album, not part of a mix.

I like Michael Buble's Christmas stuff. And Jim Brickman's, although his is mostly instrumental.

I also like the versions of some songs from the Home Alone soundtrack.

I have a friend who has blogged about Christmas music...and how much she LOVES the hippo song and even has a video of her daughters doing it. I had to laugh when I saw it on your blog and how much you despise it. I don't have a blog to blast it, so thank you for doing it for me.

Anonymous said...

I've always enjoyed Boney M - Mary's Boy Child

How can you go wrong with a Reggae/Disco/Christmas song?

Mitzi said...

How about "Elf's Lament" by BNL?

Unknown said...

OK, my favorite Christmas CD is called "A Christmas Story" by a Christian group called "Point of Grace". It's highly recommendable.

"Santa Baby" is at its worst when sung by high school girls to the unfortunate elderly gentleman from the third row. We know he's elderly because a younger, spryer man could have fended them off or at least made it to the exit before the red hat was jammed onto his head.

I mention on my blog that I would rather sing "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" in pig latin than ever have to perform "The Hallelujah Chorus" again, a remark which, upon its writing, caused my "Choral Geeks of America" decoder ring to burst into flame. But I stand by my assessment of both songs.

Unknown said...

...and I'm totally with Katie on the whole Faith Hill thing. The woman sings that song like she's being paid by the syllable. And when she wails that "Christmas is here" part, she frightens me. She really does.

Melissa said...

My absolute favorite Christmas song, Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant. A new one that I found this year is Joseph's Lullaby by Mercy Me. I wasn't a big fan of Little Drummer Boy until Josh Groban's version.

I enjoy your posts ... and miss the Elk Ridge Ward often and your dear wife!

Anonymous said...

I have been searching for the Coldplay "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" for like 4 years now. How do I get it?
I'm not saying this is a good, fuzzy-feeling Christmas song, but it is so bad it has become a family favorite--"Hard Candy Christmas" by Dolly Parton. It doesn't get any classier than that. Take a listen.
Also, I get very irritated when I hear Barbara Streisand's (or any cover of this) arrangement of "Jingle Bells."

Julie K said...

You said it all. I kinda already did this on my blog, so I have nothing to add, but you turned your comments on so how can I miss out?

Oh! I know what I wanted to tell you! My mom is crazier than a sack of weasels over your last post, about Tanner sleeping. I think she has shown it to all her friends. She is also a huge fan of your post about skydiving in Hawaii. Very popular with my mom.

Terry said...

Hey Ken- We have a great version of "I saw 3 ships" - a nice upbeat celticky version which was quite fun until about the 10th play in an hour. I was soured by day 2! The other day I heard a version of "Baby it's Cold Outside" that sounded like a 70 year old man stalking a 20 year old dame. I looked it up - Leon Redbone. Ick.
Somebody made a comment about Neil Diamond and immediately a light went on - KENNY CRAIG + NEIL DIAMOND!!! I swear your family was SUPER into The Jazz Singer for some time while we were kids together....and I bet you still are. Classic.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mariah Carey: "All I want for Christmas is you..." to shut the heck up! It's the modern equivalent of "Baby, it's cold outside".

Then there's Wham! Ever hear "Last Christmas"? It's basically a Christmas song about how mad George Michael is about whoever broke his heart last year. If that isn't the Christmas spirit was is?

But on the "like" side of the page would be the Carpenters. Can someone please give that girl a sandwich?'s too late? Oh...sorry to...hear that...Anyway!
Merry Christmas!

Tamara said...

I just read your post about Tanner sleeping---so funny! How did you guys record that without laughing? Are your kids always that quiet at dinner?

As far as songs go, "Mary's Lullaby" has always brought tears to my eyes--especially when my own kids were babies. I also really like "Mary, Did You Know?". Hope you guys have a great Christmas!

Anonymous said...

I happened on your blog quite awhile ago, laughing my way thru your trip to Colorado and the broken down van...I laughed til I had tears rolling down my cheeks about your wife's delivery story, haunted houses, hawaii,the morgue.. the list goes on. This post quite possibly tops them by a slim margin. Thanks for making my day. I look forward to each one. Samantha

p.s. My little boy can fall asleep just about anywhere too!

Carie said...

Best Christmas songs:

Oh, I admit it: I totally LOVE "Last Christmas" um, by Wham! This should completely embarrass me (it does embarrass Mark, especially everytime I sing it loudly.)

Also, under the should-not-admit category: "She Won't Be Home" by Erasure.

Finally, a truly great suggestion I can suggest and still hold my head high: "That Holiday Feeling" by Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme.

Ken Craig said...

Reyna - I can't wait to hear "The Cat Carol." I am shuddering already.

Tobers - I love Christmas in Hollis. "It was December 24th when Santa came to the door..."

Anonymous - I would tell you where to find Coldplay's "Merry Little Christmas," b'cept you're Anonymous.

Terry - Hilarious! Ah, Neil. I'm more of a Hot August Night fan myself. Speaking of us, our youth, and music. I remember going camping with you and your dad, plus Todd and his friend Matt. We had 2 cassette tapes in the car. The Beach Boys and Flock of Seagulls. And your dad nixed the Flock of Seagulls. It was two days of driving to the sounds of surfin'. Good times, good times.

Brooke said...

Ya know one song that, just this christmas, made me start raising a brow to is, "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause"! ok now What??! What are we teaching my children here??? It's ok ta just go "kiss up" to some guy that can do me favors and give goods in return???? Sounds a little like sales to me! Now, of course, We all know that santa is just the man you're married to any way........ But my children don't!!!!! Why is mommy cheating on daddy?!?! They could end up HATING santa clause for bein a pimp home wrecker!!!! And their mom is some kind of flighty floozy!
Alright... you asked....this is your blog not mine so...
Yes! We are quite the Christmas music fans ourselves, to say the least! Christmas in our house starts with "Christmas Time is Here Again" done by Ringo Star..... other must haves are Jewel A Holiday Collection (she does a good job) and Barenaked for the Holidays all the way! (A regular nudist collony over here!) Their Jingle bells on that CD Rocks the House! And the kids love it! :) Also a cd we actually got off of a cereal box 7? years ago, by Lori Line, but Brett and I both really like that one and is part of our permanent collection. one more that comes out every year is "The Perfect Christmas" (bought at bath and body works in 04). They have some good mixes on there. One that was really funny 14-15 years ago (but is not so funny now....) is called walking round in women's underwear to the tune of winter wonderland..... yeah. not as funny now.... Well. Rock on with your bad self!

Loralee and the gang... said...

Bing Crosby is the Chrismas singer, hands down! No contest!

Anonymous said...

The Tom Jones Jingle Bells/Sex Bomb remix is quite festive and is a guaranteed MoneyMaker Shaker. I mean come on... it's Tom Jones...nuff said!

Rohan Shearer said...

You can't forget about Prince's "Last Night I had another Lonely Lonely Christmas."

On the egg nog topic, you are officially invited to my fourth annual egg-nog-athon. Go to our blog and search "Egg Nog" for more details.

Team C said...

Don't those Anonymous comments make you feel a little creeped out! I mean come on, fess up on who you are. "I always feel like somebody's watchin' me." O.k. that has nothing to do with the subject, but have you ever heard Mel Torme do Christmas. Talk about a crooner. He and Sinatra are my favorite,memories of Christmas music on the record player. AAAAAH.

The Wiser Side said...

We love the oldies-They sing it best! Why was Grandma getting run over so funny to a tween and so creepy now?
One we whip out every year is the Muppets with John Denver -the whole cd is classic, but "12 days of Christmas" and "Christmas is coming" are the favorites.

We love reading!!

merathon said...

we grew up with a wonderful christmas RECORD called Christmas Mountain that our whole family just loved. you wouldn't recognize any of the songs on there unless you grew up in our house (which you didn't!) but i'm just sayin-- they are catchy, kids love 'em, and even the adults can't get them out of their heads!

i also love Jars of Clay's version of The Little Drummer Boy.