I used to hate Christmas for all the usual reasons. Not believing in God, or that Jesus was anything but a radical rabbi for starters, crass commercialization, gathering with family, people I have nothing in common with except ancestors. The list goes on and it’s boring as hell.
A couple years ago I fell in love and acquired a daughter, which makes it impossible to hate Christmas without being an asshole. As long as she has a good Christmas, I have one, too.
She’s ten this year and has figured out that there is no Santa Claus.
Maintaining belief in the face of all the evidence took it’s toll. Last year we left out a plate of cookies and she realized the note Santa left was in Mommy’s handwriting.
One way I’ve learned to embrace the season is to make mix cd’s of Christmas music and send them out to family and friends as Christmas Cards.
Here are a few of my favorite songs.
First is Joseph Spence. This version of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” is my favorite Christmas music.
Joseph Spence (born August, 1910 in Andros, Bahamas – died March 18, 1984 in Nassau, Bahamas) was a Bahamian guitarist and singer. He is well known for his vocalizations and humming while performing on guitar. Several modern folk, blues and jazz musicians, including Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder, Woody Mann, Olu Dara, and John Renbourn were influenced by and have recorded variations of his arrangements of gospel and Bahamian songs.
He has been called the folk guitarist’s Thelonious Monk.
Next up is Detroit Junior’s terrific “Christmas In Jail”.
Emery “Detroit Junior” Williams, Jr. (October 26, 1931 – August 9, 2005) was a blues pianist, vocalist, and songwriter. He is know for songs such as “So Unhappy”, “Call My Job”, “If I Hadn’t Been High”, “Ella” and “Money Tree”. His songs have been covered by Koko Taylor, Albert King and countless other blues artist.
Detroit recorded his first single, “Money Tree” with the Bea & Baby label in 1960. His first full album, “Chicago Urban Blues”, was released in the early 1970s on the Blues on Blues label. He also has recordings on Alligator, Blue Suit, The Sirens Records, and Delmark.
Detroit Junior began his career in Detroit, Michigan, backing touring musicians such as Eddie Boyd, John Lee Hooker, and Amos Milburn. Eddie Boyd brought him to Chicago in 1956, where he spent the next 12 years. In the early 1970s, Detroit toured and recorded with Howlin’ Wolf. After the death of Howlin’ Wolf in 1976, Detroit returned to Chicago where he lived and performed until his death in 2005.
Roy Wood’s Wizzard is next with their 1973 hit “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day”. Besides Wizzard, Roy founded The Move, and Electric Light Orchestra. More about Roy another time.
Sufjan Stevens “That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!” is the only thing I’ve ever heard by him. Singer songwriter’s tend to scare me. I’m terrified of boredom. However, as this song is sublime, I’d be willing to explore more of his music.
Next up is “Christmas Time In The Motor City”, by Detroit Funsters Was (Not Was). (See earlier post)
“Merry Christmas” by NRBQ is a lovely tribute to Brian Wilson.
NRBQ is an American rock band founded in 1967. They are known for their live performances, containing a high degree of spontaneity and levity, and blending rock, pop and jazz styles of the 1950s and ’60s. Their best known line-up is the 1974–1994 quartet of pianist Terry Adams, bassist Joey Spampinato, guitarist Al Anderson, and drummer Tom Ardolino.
Merry Christmas Everybody!