Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Wooden Finger Five: December 2013

Christmas is the time of year where we drag out those old Christmas albums and listen to the same twenty songs over and over again, because that’s what we always do at Christmas, right? Wrong. There’s no excuse for being lulled into sleep by hearing some choir crawl though ‘The First Noel’ or ‘Silent Freaking Night’, or even Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’. Hence, a few years back I put together a list of Christmas tracks that I hadn’t heard five hundred times already. When I host Christmas, these are the songs I’ll be a-playing, as they stand the least chance (even if some non-zero chance) of me getting totally and utterly sick of them.

Image: youtube
The Killers have always varied between glorious and ridiculous, and this song is both. Some kid has been very, very naughty by killing other children ‘just for fun’, and now Jolly Ol’ Nick has dropped by to give him his comeuppance. It’s not wholesome, but it is fun. When I have kids, I’ll wait until the grandparents are out of the room before playing them this one.  

Joan Jett’s ‘I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll’ is unfortunately another of those songs I’ve heard far too often in my lifetime. But this track off the same album was a pleasant surprise, and reinvigorated a carol that I loved as a kid but grew tired of as I got older. Jett’s pronunciation of Jesus, and the growling rum-rums in the background give this version even more of a novel twist. Sidenote: when I was a kid I thought the line ‘The ox and ass kept time’ was ‘The optimus prime’. I was so excited there was this ‘optimus prime’ character in the Christmas legend that I hadn’t known about. God, I was disappointed when I found out what it really was.

Nowadays this song, like a lot of the Darkness’ catalogue, risks being as tacky as all the Christmas carols I’ve just skewered, but somehow I still like it. And I admire the Darkness’ gumption in trying to get the Christmas number one, even though they narrowly lost. Plus, it’s perfect for annoying half your relatives – in my case, wife included, who thoroughly despises anything Darkness-related.    

This actually wasn’t on my playlist when I made it a few years back, but it certainly would be on there now. Having Shane MacGowan slur about being drunk on Christmas Eve may seem like an obvious move in hindsight, but only because the song was written. While the lyrics are regretful, the music is suitably joyful for the festive season.

And here you have it – my favourite Christmas song ever. Ray Davies sings about dressing up as Santa Claus and getting beaten up a gang of kids, who take his money and leave the toys. It’s like a tale from the secret underbelly of Christmas, and while I don’t endorse it as being in the spirit of the season, it’s the one I’m most likely to be humming as I dig for coins in my Christmas pudding.

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