I Hate Christmas Songs

Bloggified by Jake on Monday, December 15, 2008

I hate Christmas music in general. This is doubtless related to my mother's love of the stuff that led to my having had enough for this lifetime by the age of nine.

But more than the endlessly recycled songs that get trotted out by everyone from Perry Como to Luciano Pavarotti to 98 Degrees to Alabama, there are certain lines that just get under my skin for how poorly written they are. How can people listen to these songs hundreds, maybe thousands of times in their lives without catching that they don't make sense?

And I'm not even going to mention "wassailing."

"You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen
Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen.
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?"

Doesn't it go without saying that if you are so well versed in reindeer that you know them all by name, you should know "the most famous reindeer of all"? This would be like saying, "You know B.J. Armstrong and Horace Grant and Bill Cartwright and John Paxson, Scottie Pippen and Will Purdue and Stacy King and Tim Kempton... but do you recall... the most famous Chicago Bull off all?"

"Outside the snow is fallin' and friends are callin' 'Yoo-hoo!'"

Mostly I hate this lyric because "callin' 'Yoo-hoo!'" can be so easily confused with "callin' you 'Who?'" Until I was in my late-20's, I assumed this line was trying to express the point that when you bundle up in a lot of heavy, winter clothing, particularly with a scarf over your nose and mouth or a ski mask on your face, it would be easy for your friends not to recognize you. "Hey, guys, it's me," you'd call, only to be greeted by a wary, "Who?" And the truth is, that makes a lot more sense than the idea that your friends are outside in a snow storm yelling "Yoo-hoo!"

There'll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago."

Who tells ghost stories at Christmas time? The only Christmas ghost story is A Christmas Carol, but it's not scary. It's more thought-provoking. To me, scary ghost stories are what you tell a bunch of pre-pubescent teens around a campfire in June, not your family on December 24th. I mean, my uncle was a jerk, but at least he never sent us to bed on Christmas Eve with, "Okay, kids, Santa will be coming soon so off to bed. See you in the morning... unless the former owner of this house comes looking for his severed head!"

"But what child is this that was poverty-born?"

This is from a lesser-known carol--unless you grew up with the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas album, in which case it's extremely well known--called "The Peace Carol." Again, my beef with this line is just that for years I misheard it as "what child is this that was probably born?" It seemed like such a non-committal line for a Christmas carol, though I had to respect John Denver for leaving his options open. "I'll sing these songs about Jesus being born... but I don't really have any concrete proof that there was anything so special about that, so I better acknowledge the possibility that the Jews are right."

"I'll be home for Christmas, you can count on me...
I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams."

So we really can't count on you, can we? Look, I'm not buying a bunch of crap to stuff your stocking and setting a place for you at the table if you're just going to flake out, not show, and then claim you were here "in your dreams." You are so unreliable, you jackass.

"Gone away is the bluebird,
here to stay is a new bird"

How long did that rhyme take you? Here to stay are two birds? No. Here to stay is a Jew bird? No, why would he celebrate Christmas? Here's to stay is an avian flu bird? No, it would be dying and not "here to stay."

"Holy infant so tender and mild"

If you ever had Filet of Christ Child, this is how it would be described on the menu.

"Later on, we'll conspire,
as we dream by the fire..."

I hate this one largely because it reminds me of a time when I had one of those Family Circus kid moments. When I was little, I thought the line was "Later on, we perspire..." which makes sense if you're sleeping next to a fire, but doesn't make me feel any better that something I thought was on par with the punchline of a Bil Keane comic strip.

"I saw three ships come sailing in...
And what was in those ships all three?...
The Virgin Mary and Christ were there
on Christmas Day in the morning."

So three ships came sailing into the middle of the desert in Bethlehem? Or was this years later? And what was in those three ships anyway? Even if Mary was on one and Jesus was on another, you haven't told us what was on the third? For that matter, you didn't say Mary and Jesus were on the ships. You just said they were there.
"Hey, what are you eating?"
"My ski instructor is here."

"Shall I play for him... on my drum?... Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum."

Just put yourself in this scene for a moment. You've just given birth in a barn, the baby is sleeping peacefully, and some dudes you don't even know show up. At least they've brought some gifts... but they also have a nine year old with a drum. And he things banging the hell out of that drum would be a good gift for the sleeping newborn. Would you nod pa rum pum pum pum? Or tell the kid to go the hell outside pum pum pum pum?

"Up on the housetop reindeer pause..."

Just another misunderstanding here. I hated this song for years because everyone knows reindeer have hooves, not paws.

"In fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter's night that was so deep."

Are there better words to describe the night? Cold? Dark? Lonely? Contemplative? Sure, but none of those rhyme with "sheep."

1 sarcastic replies:

Kemi said...

Too. Freaking. Funny.

Thanks for the post-Christmas laugh. You'd be horrified to know that where I live, Christmas music starts 24/7 at 12:01 AM on November 1, and continues through midnight on January 1.

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