The Curmudgeon’s Guide To Christmas Music

One of my great pleasures in life is creating playlists of Christmas music.  I like the standards, I like interesting twists on the standards, and I like a lot of the “modern classics.”  I like listening to these playlists on my way into work.  I like listening to them as I’m walking through the city, admiring the lights.  I am, generally, a fan of Christmas music.

That being said, there are certain songs that will never appear on any playlist I create.  Indeed, these songs are more or less banned from my home.  I can’t do anything about them when they turn up on the radio, or in some store, but I can control the amount of tripe that makes its way into my living space.  Here are but a few examples:

It never fails.  Every time I hear this song I am almost honor-bound to sit through the whole thing, sputtering in outrage the entire time:  “What the…?  WHAT AM I HEARING?  IS THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENING?!”  And the quatrain that always makes me shriek the loudest:  “We went to have ourselves a drink or two / But couldn’t find an open bar / We bought a six-pack at the liquor store / And we drank it in her car.” I suppose for many, Christmas Eve is the night you want to be prowling around convenience stores looking for ex-girlfriends/boyfriends so you can go drink in a parking lot and rehash everything that went wrong.  Here’s a tip: you can do the same thing in the comfort of your own home by reading just about anything over at Thought Catalog, and hate yourself just as much in the morning.


SOB!  The poor kid just wants his mama to die wearing nice shoes.  It’s a sentiment we can all relate to, right?


Picture the scene:  it’s 1979, and Sir Paul has just gotten an analog synthesizer – top o’ the line, state o’ the art, and all that.  So he’s sitting there, scratching his head, pondering the best way to take advantage of the patch memory feature and newfangled modulation capabilities.  What do you do if you’re Paul McCartney, ex-Beatle and one of the most beloved songwritering (typo, but it stays) talents of the 20th century, and you’ve got all this technology at your fingertips?  Why, you toke up and write “Wonderful Christmastime,” of course.  And you load it up with so much flatulent synth that you sit at your console and giggle like an 11-year-old boy who’s just heard a fart joke.  And then you foist it upon the masses.  Because you’re Paul McCartney.


If CIA operatives ever wanted to get information out of me, locking me in a dark room and playing this over and over will get me to spill the proverbial beans.  As well as the contents of my stomach.


Dear Mariah, Xtina, et al:  the point of a holiday song is that it has a memorable melody that people like to sing along to.  They can’t do that if you’re cramming ALL THE NOTES into a single measure.  Leave the melisma and vocal acrobatics in your own music, and just SING THE SONG THE WAY IT’S WRITTEN PLZKTHX.

You’re probably thinking, “OK, Ms. Caustic Barbed Wit Curmudgeon – so what is it that you DO like?” I’M SO GLAD YOU ASKED. Just a sampling:


In my opinion, no collection of Christmas music is complete with The Ventures’ Christmas Album.


This is probably my all-time-favorite version of this song. It’s so simple, and so wistful, and so gosh-durned ALTERNATIVE.


Waterworks. Every single time.

So tell me, since I know you’re reading: What’s on your so-bad-it-makes-you-stabby list? Your favorites? Have at it…

7 thoughts on “The Curmudgeon’s Guide To Christmas Music

  1. I can get enthusiastically behind all of this EXCEPT for the dissing of the Macca song.

    Simply put, it is the joy of novelty socks put to song form by one really really really really really high master songwriter.

    if that doesn’t speak to the true meaning of christmas then, uh, whoa.

    lost my train of thought there.

    • Barrett! It’s been some time, hasn’t it?

      I’ve eased up somewhat on the novelty socks. However, I will not back down on “Wonderful Christmastime.” Just because it’s Macca doesn’t make it a good song.

      • I fully agree that “Wonderful Christmastime” is the sort of thing for which lesser songwriters have been strung up by their thumbs – but what I think we’re overlooking here is the “pissing off John” factor. I’m firmly of the opinion that at least 50% of McCartney’s output between 1972 and 1979 was produced solely to annoy Lennon as much as possible.

      • I agree with Jonathan…. and I will admit I fully enjoy the tune, Macca or not. need to share a beer and popculture bitching in the flesh with ya soon.

        and I’m wearing mustachioed novelty socks at this very moment!

  2. Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer. Please, God, never again. However, Domenic the Christmas Donkey can bray all he wants and I will still laugh.

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