Fa la la la la

I’m a fan of rock music — everything from Sarah McLachlan to Metallica,
Elton John to Tool. There are other kinds of music I sometimes listen to:
I don’t mind some country now and again, some blues, and I even have a couple of musical
theatre soundtracks – yes, I admit it, I listen to show tunes. I’m not a fan of
hip-hop / rap, and adult contemporary (Celine Dion, Michael Bolton) puts me to
sleep. I don’t listen to jazz either, but I can appreciate their talent —
jazz guitarists and drummers are among the best musicians around. I just can’t
get into the electronic stuff either; generally, if there isn’t a real
or real drummer in your band, I’m not interested. If your
“band” consists of three keyboardists, a DJ, and a drum machine, I’m not even
going to listen.

One form of music I’ve never been a fan of is Christmas music. I think it’s
because after 30-some years, Christmas songs all start to sound the same. It’s
like there are a bunch of Christmas songs available (some religious and some
not), and if you want to record a Christmas song, you must pick one of them.
God forbid you write a new one. That’s not always true; every couple of years
I hear a Christmas song I’ve never heard before, but usually when someone
releases a Christmas song, it’s just their version of existing song
that has already been done to death. Just yesterday, I heard a “new” version
of the Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick” (I don’t know if they wrote it, but
the only version I know is by them), but the “new” version was an almost
note-for-note copy. Why bother?

Two of my least favourites are “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and
“Jingle Bell Rock”. Both have “rock” in the title, and that’s part of what makes
me not like them — neither has anything to do with “rock”. What does
Brenda Lee know about “Rockin'”, anyway? And what the hell is the “new
old-fashioned way”? “Jingle Bell Rock” isn’t as bad, and I have nothing
against Randy Travis (I just can’t say his name without dropping into a southern
drawl – Rrrrrandy Travis), but if he can cover a song without
(a) changing his style or (b) changing the song’s style, it ain’t rock.

I suppose I have been mellowing in the last few years. I like the Barenaked
Ladies’ version of Jingle Bells (it starts off very slow and lounge-y, then
suddenly blasts into this high-energy fun song). Tom Petty has a pretty good one
(“Christmas All Over Again”), and Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” is
OK. Now that I think about it, John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” is
a really good Christmas song. I’m even learning Silent Night on the guitar. I’m
not going out to actually buy any of these (for myself, anyway, I’ve bought some
Christmas music for Gail), but I don’t cringe whenever I hear them.

Strangely, it doesn’t seem that there have been many attempts to write a
hard rock Christmas song. AC/DC did a song called “Mistress for
Christmas”, which was just dumb. And there are NO death metal Christmas songs. I
guess I won’t hold my breath waiting for Cannibal Corpse’s version of “What
Child is This?” or “A Very Slayer Christmas”.


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