*Note: an edited version of this article appeared in the Washington City Paper.
Layered beneath the flurry of articles bemoaning the death of print journalism, one aspect not regularly mentioned (perhaps not to seem even more cloying) is the somnambulant status of the critic. The professional critic’s stature, maligned as elitist or outright ignored, had diminished long before the onset of the current crisis facing newspapers and magazines. This argument is consistently paraded out during award seasons, when numerous discrepancies arise between the highest grossing and widely praised. As this dynamic steadily played itself out, year after year, mainstream publications have been neutered and marginalized while non-traditional outlets filled the void until the Internet gave everyone with an opinion and a caps lock button a voice.
WHAT THE FUCK, INTERNET?
And here it is, the twelfth post in our Twelve Days of Christmas at AVERSE (we’re taking tomorrow off, obviously.) There was a lot of thought over what song I would put here for the twelfth day. But you know what? A list without the Jackson 5’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is not a very good list at all, is it? And who says I can only post one song? I’ll post as many songs as I want. And you know what else? I’m also going to add the Bruce Springsteen version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, because Thom requested it. That’s right, three songs. IT’S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!*
*”Miracle” being sort of a relative term, since all I’m really doing is posting links to videos that are readily available on YouTube.
I’ve spent every Christmas of my life in New York with family. One or two times afterwards I’ve spent the night out on the town drinking with some buddies, and what you notice is… well, the thing about Christmas in NY is that if you’re not spending it with family or friends you’re going to the bar, and if you’re going to the bar you’re walking the streets drunk and tired and cold and lonely, and there are all these drunk and lonely people together being miserable and the mood that’s set is just like the feeling you get after listening to the Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York.” That’s what I’ve noticed about Christmas in NY. It’s brutal and it’s sad and it’s actually kind of beautiful.
(Watch for the appearance by Matt Dillon.)
I wanted to talk about The Ramones’ “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)”, and how it’s a deep look at the holiday season; how it perfectly describes the exhausting feeling of a relationship that’s on the rocks; how it reflected Joey Ramone’s personal life, and the general mood of the band around the holidays; and how it changed the way we look at Christmas songs forever. I wanted to write about all of that but I can’t, because none of it is true– “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)” is just another nonsense song with a sped up Chuck Berry riff by the Ramones. If you think that’s a bad thing you’ve obviously never heard the other 200 nonsense songs with sped up Chuck Berry riffs by the Ramones. Enjoy!
There’s a reason the month of December is one of the most depressing times of the year. During a season when we’re all expected to be jolly and full of cheer celebrating with the ones we love there’s not a lot of consideration for the lonely and heartbroken. That’s why the sad songs are always the ones that get to us. Who’s never been alone on Christmas? Who hasn’t missed someone during that time of year? After the cut: a track for the lonely.
They called him “the King” for a reason: not one, but two absolute Christmas classics from Mr. Elvis Presley. And while “Blue Christmas” may be his most famous Christmas contribution (originally recorded by the “Texas Troubador” Ernest Tubb), it’s the next track on Elvis’ Christmas Album which is my personal favorite: the upbeat “Santa Bring My Baby Back (to Me).” Decide for yourself– here they are back to back, after the cut.
A Real Life Story of Teenage Reevaluation Holiday Edition!
So in the midst of watching/listening to some total maniac’s 70 minute rant about why the Phantom Menace is total crap AVERSE staffer and Han Solo-esque ringleader Paulie DeBens asked me if I wanted to write about a Christmas song for the 12 Days of Christmas feature. Boy, did I!
Actually, I did. Plus I knew what Christmas song I could pair up with a Star Wars reference that would succinctly explain why I only kissed about six girls* in my entire high school career (as if that was called into question). That song would be Blink 182’s “I Won’t Be Home Christmas.”