It’s the holiday season again, meaning that the same “Jingle Bells” and “Frosty the Snowman” have been blaring in department stores since November 1st. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas music is great and definitely puts people in the holiday spirit, but even the best things can grow tiresome if played enough times. So, as my Christmas gift to you, here are my top five Christmas songs by artists who aren’t quite so traditional but still classic nonetheless.
Christmas – the Who
Yes, I know this isn’t really about Christmas but it is Christmas themed at least. From the Who’s legendary rock-opera, Tommy, “Christmas” illustrates the scene of Christmas day for a young boy who is both deaf and blind. With these disabilities, how can he ever understand what Christmas is? He can never enjoy the presents, hear the carols, see the twinkling lights, but what his parents don’t realize is that they can still provide for him what Christmas is really about: love. Although he “doesn’t know what day it is”, he could still feel what Christmas is about if only his family weren’t so obsessed with what he doesn’t have rather than what he can feel. You don’t have to see or hear love to feel it because love is tangible to all.
The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth – David Bowie and Bing Crosby
Despite being one of the most bizarre musical pairings of all time (in fact, so bizarre that Will Ferrell and John C. Riley did a spoof of it in skit form), David Bowie and Bing Crosby still sing this Christmas classic beautifully. I mean, with two legendary artists in the same room, what else would you expect? This is a prime example of Christmas bringing two opposites together, two people who you would think would clash and end up getting into a fistfight, to create true Christmas magic.
Christmas Song – Jethro Tull
The great Ian Anderson does it again with this little Christmas song, which reminds us that Christmas, although seemingly consumed with parties, sparkling decorations, and loud department stores claiming that they have the perfect gift, is “not in what you drink”. Christmas is not about the commercialized consumerism that it often appears to be but in making someone smile by showing that you care.
Ho Ho Hoey – Gary Hoey
Here’s just a little sample from what is probably one of the coolest Christmas albums of all time by one of the coolest guitar players of all time. The first video is live from the House of Blues with a set list of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, “Greensleeves”, and “Carol of the Bells”, the second video is of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”, and the last video is of the Peanut’s “Linus and Lucy”. If you have the chance, you should definitely check out the “Ho Ho Hoey” album.
Father Christmas – the Kinks
Last but not least, is the Kink’s “Father Christmas”, which, like “Christmas Song”, details the commercialization of what was once about love and charity. The song tells the story of a department store Santa and all of the things that children ask of him for Christmas, including money, machine guns, and for all the toys to go to the “little rich boys”. To children who have everything, Christmas simply means getting more. Juxtapose to the children of the wealthy, there is a child who simply asks for a job for his or her father so that he can feed their family. By the final verse, the song simply asks for us who are more fortunate to “remember the kids who got nothing”, or the children who are too poor to afford Christmas gifts, while we enjoy our own Christmases.
Once again, I would like to wish you all Happy Holidays, whatever they may be and to remember the true meaning of Christmas. As cliche as that sounds, it truly is important to keep in mind that the holidays are a time to show others that we care, not to simply give gifts as an obligation or to anticipate what others will be giving to us. The spirit of Christmas is in the feeling you get when you make someone smile, by letting them know you care. So while you stress out over buying gifts or trying to plan the perfect party, just remember that the phrase “Merry Christmas” really means what it says, to be merry and to spread joy to others.
So, once again: