Saturday, December 11, 2010

Shards of the Season

Songs of the Season I will listen to until they're over, regardless of whether I am parked in front of my house and it's freezing:

White Christmas - Bing Crosby
Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms
Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
A Holly Jolly Christmas - Burl Ives
Do You Hear What I Hear - Bing Crosby
The Little Drummer Boy - Harry Simeone Chorale
O Holy Night - Andy Williams
Mele Kalikimaka - Crosby and the Andrews Sisters

And that's it. I did not forget Nat Cole's The Christmas Song. It's beautiful, but it won't stop me from turning off the ignition.


And speaking of Do You Hear What I Hear - how come that's the title of the song? It's not the tag of the first stanza of the song. That's Do You See What I See. It's not the tag of the final stanza of the song. That's Do You Know What I Know. It's not repeated any more often than any other Do You Whatever What I Whatever in the song. Who decided Do You Hear What I Hear was going to be the title? Should I worry about this? Should you?


And here's the deal about The Little Drummer Boy. First of all, with the Harry Simeone version available, there was really no need for anybody else to record the song. However, some people did. Some people keep doing it. Hey--that's their right. Be aware, though, you people who make up your mind to sing this song, that you damn well better know how to Parump A Bump Bum. There are a number of versions out there in which the Parump A Bump Bum is atrocious. Very few humans can pull off the Parump a Bump Bum required to make this song work. I think Crosby comes close in the version of The Peace Carol/Little Drummer Boy he sang with David Bowie on that Christmas TV Special he filmed in England about five minutes before he died. I think he lucked into a correct reading of Parump a Bump Bum because he was so embarrassed singing the song with David Bowie that he kind of turned his brain off and pretty much threw away the phrase, making it strangely effective. Truth be told, though, damn few singers can execute the phrase properly. My recommendation: leave the song alone. There's a perfect version out there already.


I see Die Hard turning up in lists of people's favorite Christmas movies. Okay. I'll buy that. I'm just pretty sure Sister Gonzaga would not have chosen it as the movie to show us back in the eighth grade at the Sacred Heart before sending us off for Christmas vacation.


If you're looking for a holiday film and you're kinda over some of the all-time favorites, I strongly suggest you get a copy of Ricky Gervais' 90-minute finale of his THE OFFICE. Gervais and Stephen Merchant decided to end their brilliant BBC series after only a couple of seasons, and fashioned this piece to tie up loose ends of the two most prominent stories the series featured--Gervais' David Kemp's attempt to live and love, and the "it has to happen but how?" romance between Tim and Dawn. And they set it at Christmastime. Frankly, the show is painful to watch, as Gervais and Merchant put Kemp through humiliations that would destroy most people--funny, but painful--but the astonishing two endings of the above-mentioned storylines make all the pain worthwhile. (Spoiler Alert) The moment when Tim and Dawn finally come together is as moving and as tastefully handled as anything you've seen in film or on television, ever. You can probably watch this without having viewed the two full seasons of Gervais-Merchant's THE OFFICE. But it is best appreciated knowing who these people are, and how they got to be at the point and time covered in the finale.


So the holiday season is sometimes a depressing one. Let's face it. Not everybody is filled with joy and cheer and the Yuletide is not always as gay as the song would make it out to be. But please, people, those of you who insist on putting those enormous blow-up Santas and Snowmen and Rudolphs out on your lawn--for the love of God, get up in the morning, go out to the lawn, and RE-BLOW THE DAMN THINGS UP! If a guy is having a tough time dealing with the season, for whatever reason, if he's down in the dumps and weeps uncontrollably as he drives to work while Mariah Carey blares out that all she wants for Christmas is him, there is NOTHING more emotionally deflating than seeing all these elves and reindeer out of air and sprawled on the lawn, waiting to be revitalized for the afternoon commute. COME ON PEOPLE! BLOW UP YOUR LAWN SANTAS! KEEP CHRISTMAS ALIVE!


Merry Christmas


  1. AMEN to the blow up your lawn santas!!!

  2. I can't believe you don't have Springsteen's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" on your list. Or The Royal Guardsmen's "Snoopy's Christmas." Those are freeze-worthy.

  3. Springsteen's close. Snoopy, not so much.