Wednesday, December 23, 2009
"On, Donner! On, Blitzen! On, Chuy! On, Tavo! C'mon, Becto!": 10 current favorite Christmas tracks
The following is inspired by a holiday music meme I first saw posted by Matt on Scrubbles.net. Like Matt said in his list, some of us require a bit of acid in our eggnog (or in our DVD players--my favorite holiday movie is The Ref, the film where Kevin Spacey memorably tells his evil mom he'll get her a cross for Christmas so that whenever she feels unappreciated for her sacrifices, she can climb on up and nail herself to it).
10. The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, "Fairytale of New York"
Now that's my idea of the perfect Pasko song. The cover version with Dr. Girlfriend as Shane MacGowan and the Monarch as MacColl is hilariously fooked up.
9. OutKast, "Player's Ball"
Andre 3000 and Big Boi's very first single was originally a Yuletide joint, in which the Player's Ball happens on Christmas Day instead of "all day e'ryday." The Christmas Day line is removed from the Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik version, but most of the other holiday references remain ("Ain't no chiminies in the ghetto/So I won't be hangin' my socks on no tip").
8. Darlene Love, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"
I first heard this tune during the opening credits of Gremlins. I've grown fond of "Baby Please Come Home" because of Love's annual performance of the Phil Spector-produced standard on Letterman's Christmas shows.
7. Donny Hathaway, "This Christmas"
Everyone from Patti LaBelle to woman-beating douches have covered "This Christmas," but Hathaway's 1970 original will always be the best version. It's mostly because of the thunderous percussion and them funky horns. Earlier this month, the Chicago Sun-Times published a terrific article that contains interesting tidbits about the Chicago native's classic recording, like its unlikely ties to film music (the song's bridge was inspired by Elmer Bernstein's Magnificent Seven theme!).
6. Booker T. & the MGs, "Merry Christmas Baby"
Atlantic's 1991 Soul Christmas compilation is my favorite holiday CD, thanks to the inclusion of "This Christmas," Clarence Carter's "Back Door Santa" and the sizzling Booker T. & the MGs cover of singer Charles Brown's 1947 standard, which was featured in David Sedaris' classic 1992 NPR reading of The Santaland Diaries.
5. Vince Guaraldi Trio, "Skating"
This is the only track on the list that's from a film or TV score. My favorite tune from the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack is neither "Christmas Time Is Here" nor "Linus and Lucy." It's the underappreciated "Skating." Guaraldi once said, "I don't think I'm a great piano player." Nah, during "Skating," Guaraldi was a great piano player.
4. The Waitresses, "Christmas Wrapping"
Like in "This Christmas," the horn section sounds so tight during "Christmas Wrapping."
3. Cheech & Chong, "Santa Claus and His Old Lady"
Donde esta Santa Cleese? Another enjoyable Christmas track involving a Latino comedian is Horatio Sanz's "I Wish It Was Christmas Today," which was covered earlier this week by Julian Casablancas and the Roots.
2. Patton Oswalt, "My Christmas Memory"
I lose it every time I hear Oswalt's impression of a slowed-down David Seville from "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)."
1. Run-DMC, "Christmas in Hollis"
Jam Master Jay's killer "Back Door Santa" sample is a reason why millions of us continue to exclaim "Goddamn, that DJ made my day!" long after his death.