Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Because we've all heard "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" too often

SamuraiFrog has posted his compilation of holiday songs, a tasteful list of unassailable Christmas classics (to steal a phrase from his Burl Ives entry). He ends by asking for reader suggestions, and as a matter of fact, I've been putting together a CD compilation of holiday tunes each year for the past three years. I gave out copies of the trilogy at an early Festivus bash this weekend, and response was positive (read: I got felt up). The funny thing is that, owing to SamuraiFrog's emphasis on traditional tunes on the basis that 98% of modern Christmas songs suck and my own focus on trying to pick out that good 2% without including anything you might have already heard too much, we share not a single song in common. Nonetheless, for his pleasure and yours, I reproduce the tracklistings here.

X-mas I (2003)

1. U2 - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
2. R.E.M. - Ghost Reindeer in the Sky
3. The Ramones - Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)
4. Weezer - The Christmas Song (Remix)
5. The Beach Boys - Bells Of Christmas
6. Brian Wilson - On Christmas Day
7. Big Star - Jesus Christ
8. Chris Stamey - Christmas Time
9. The Flaming Lips - Christmas at the Zoo
10. Grandaddy - Alan Parsons In A Winter Wonderland
11. The Dandy Warhols - The Little Drummer Boy
12. Eels - Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas
13. Teenage Fanclub - Christmas Eve
14. Belle and Sebastian - O Come, O Come Emmanuel
15. Low - Blue Christmas
16. Galaxie 500 - Listen, the Snow Is Falling
17. The Alarm - Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
18. Smashing Pumpkins - Christmas Time
19. Webb Brothers - Every Day Is Christmas
20. Pearl Jam - Let Me Sleep (It's Christmas Time)
21. XTC - Thanks for Christmas
22. Pogues feat. Kirsty McColl - Fairytale of New York
23. Badly Drawn Boy - Donna And Blitzen

X-mas II (2004)

1. Death Cab for Cutie - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
2. Jimmy Eat World - Last Christmas
3. The Dismemberment Plan - This Christmas
4. Fountains of Wayne - The Man in the Santa Suit
5. The Raveonettes - The Christmas Song
6. Belsana - Bittersweet Eve
7. Low - Just Like Christmas
8. Yo La Tengo - It's Christmas Time
9. Snow Patrol - When I Get Home for Christmas
10. The Flaming Lips - A Change at Christmas
11. Monster Magnet - Dead Christmas
12. Eels - Christmas Is Going to the Dogs
13. Walkmen - No Christmas While I'm Talking
14. Mogwai - Christmas Song
15. Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - Hwiangerdd Mair
16. Saint Etienne - My Christmas Prayer
17. Calexico - Gift X-Change
18. Travis - River
19. Coldplay - 2000 Miles
20. Ron Sexsmith - Maybe This Christmas
21. Aimee Mann & Michael Penn - Christmas Time
22. Emerson, Lake, and Palmer - I Believe in Father Christmas

X-mas III (2005)

1. Ben Folds - Lonely Christmas Eve
2. Marah - Christmas with the Snow
3. The Loud Family - It Just Wouldn't Be Christmas
4. Ash - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day
5. Weezer - Christmas Celebration
6. The White Stripes - Candy Cane Children
7. Jay Bennett & Edward Burch - Child's Christmas in Wales
8. Neko Case & Her Boyfriends - Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis
9. Bright Eyes - The First Noel
10. Low - One Special Gift
11. Mojave 3 - Candle Song 3
12. Tori Amos - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
13. Jars of Clay - Christmas for Cowboys
14. Sufjan Stevens - Come On! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance
15. Belle and Sebastian - Santa, Bring My Baby Back to Me
16. Cracker - Merry Christmas Emily
17. Gorillaz - Don Quixote's Christmas Bonanza
18. The Long Winters - Christmas with You Is the Best
19. The Sugarcubes - Birthday (Jim & William Reid Christmas Eve Mix)
20. The Jesus and Mary Chain - Birthday
21. Harvey Danger - Sometimes You Have to Work on Christmas (Sometimes)
22. Prince and the Revolution - Another Lonely Christmas


Blogger Dickolas Wang said...

Not to be an XTC fanboy here, but wasn't that technically the Three Wise Men?

12/14/2005 03:06:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Lynn said...

For all I know, it could have been the Dukes of Stratosphear.

12/14/2005 07:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Minutes after I read your post I heard The Beach Boys singing a Christmas song on a Coca Cola commercial. I assume it was the one you mentioned because if they had any others they would likely all be on your lists.


12/14/2005 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger SamuraiFrog said...

Great stuff you've got, Peter. Some of the bands I don't care for, but most of them I like and I really, really should have included that Ramones song. And Badly Drawn Boy... Jesus, I've listened to the "About a Boy" soundtrack so many times I can't believe I forgot to include it. If only I was on your mailing list; tracking this stuff down is going to be quite an undertaking, but I'm just too damn curious.

Marlene: The song on the Coca-Cola commercial is "Little Saint Nick," which was on my list but not Peter's. There's a Beach Boys Christmas album that's been repackaged countless times. Brian Wilson covers/re-records it on his new album, "All I Want for Christmas," which, since it's getting good reviews in England, I'm sure Mike Love will sue him over...

12/14/2005 12:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Binrake said...

Just wanted to chip in with a few suggestions from my own Christmas favourites:

Captain Beefheart - No Santa Claus on the Evening Stage
The Darkness - Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End)
The Goon Show - I'm Walking Backwards for Christmas
Spinal Tap - Christmas with the Devil
Steve Coogan (as Tony Ferrino) - Bigamy at Christmas
Theryl "Houseman" DeClouet - Pimp My Sleigh
The Vandals - My First Christmas (As a Woman), Christmas Time For My Penis

12/14/2005 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Lynn said...

SamuraiFrog: The Badly Drawn Boy was the very first one I started with. As for The Ramones, it got me a high five at our Festivus party from a guy we call "Party Dave" who is also who I was talking to Johnny Cash about. The dude is convinced J.C. was 6'8" for some reason.

Marlene, as he said, the Beach Boys sang the living shit out of Christmas. They released one Christmas album, aborted another one, and gathered the whole mess together on 1998's Ultimate Christmas CD. "Little Saint Nick" is the obvious classic, which is why SamuraiFrog went for it and also why I didn't. Also, I wanted to juxtapose "Bells of Christmas" with "On Christmas Day" to point out how Brian was kind of ripping off the old Beach boys tune -- which he didn't have a hand in writing! but what the hell -- it's just one he whipped off for his kids and put on his website.

Binrake: Thanks to you, I officially have a jump on next year.

12/14/2005 07:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Eric said...

And the of course there's the new Christmas Classic for tweens - 'My Christmas List' by Simple Plan - whose lyrics perfectly sum up the new spirit of Christmas for the corporate age.

"Santa is coming tonight
And I want a car, and I want a life
And I want a first class trip to Hawaii
I want a lifetime supply
Of skittles & slurpees and Eskimo pies
I want a DVD,
A big screen TV
Just bring me things that I don't need

'Cuz now it's Christmas
And I want everything
I just can't wait
So don't stop spending
I want a million gifts, that's right
Don't forget my Christmas list tonight
'Cuz now it's Christmas

Somebody take me away
Or give me a time machine
To take me straight to midnight
I'll be alright

I want a girl in my bed
Who knows what to do
A PlayStation 2
I want a shopping spree
In New York City
Just bring me things that I don't need


I wish I could take this day
And make it last forever
And no matter what I get tonight
I want more

It's Christmas and I want everything
I just can't wait
It's Christmas and I want everything now

And I want everything
I just can't wait
So don't stop spending, I
Want a million gifts,
That's right
And I can't wait 'til midnight
Don't forget my Christmas list tonight
'Cuz now it's Christmas"

12/15/2005 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Steve Ely said...

Wow. Either you already deleted the earlier comment I put here to this effect or Blogger itself made it disappear utterly or (most likely) I've got so damn many tabs of this blog open right now, I put that comment on some completely wrong post that I can't find now.

Anyway, are you familiar with the song Gift by The Firebird Band?

12/20/2005 06:43:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Lynn said...

Didn't delete, and I don't know it. Is it good? Good enough for Volume 4?

12/20/2005 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Steve Ely said...

Well, I quite enjoy it. I discovered it through Pandora.com and downloaded it from eMusic.com. (You can get 50 tracks free from it and then cancel if you don't want to pay the $10 a month. [I feel like a spammer. Sorry. It just seems helpful.])

It doesn't revolve around Christmas altogether, but it factors into it. It's got some interesting electronic stuff going on.

Reviews of the album it's from here and here.

Whether it's Volume 4 material is a tough call. Volumes 1 through 3 feature a very impressive lineup, with a lot of bands I know and very few songs I do.

12/20/2005 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger Steve Ely said...

Hey, I don't know if volume 4 is likely to include any Sufjan Stevens, but here are four Christmas songs by him, if you don't have them already.

Also, do you know the e-mail address in your Blogger profile doesn't work?

1/04/2006 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Lynn said...

Yeah, Sufjan Stevens has done so much Christmas stuff now that I really have no choice but to include him.

I didn't know my e-mail address didn't work. But it should now. Bring on the spam!

1/05/2006 12:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, what about that Joni Mitchell song "River?" It's so hauntingly beautiful...

And of course, my all time favorite: Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah." That man was a f-ing genious.

Let's hear it for a melancholy Christmas.

1/05/2006 02:20:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Lynn said...

Well, I did include a cover of "River" by Travis. But is "Hallelujah" really a Christmas song?

1/05/2006 09:00:00 PM  

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