Friday, December 3, 2010

Justin's Guide to Christmas Music

Christmas music is probably some of the best music there is. Just hearing it brings back warm feelings of holiday cheer, family, friends, gifts, and all the other trappings of Western middle-class privilege that most of us have grown up experiencing. So it's no secret that people love Christmas music. It's catchy, it's nostalgic, and it's one of the few genres of music that most of society knows all the words to.

But have we ever stopped to consider what these songs are really about? Lately I've been listening to Christmas music and realizing that these songs are not always the cheery, fun-filled holiday romps that I've come to know and love over the years. No, many of them, when closely examined, paint a much different picture of the Christmas season in America than Currier and Ives and those Coca Cola polar bears would have us believe (side note: who in the hell thought that polar bears would be a lovable mascot for the Christmas season? They are basically walking chainsaws with maces for hands that will swim 60 miles at a time just to murder other animals. What the hell does this have to do with a sugar-based carbonated drink?)
Always Coca-Cola.
 With that in mind, I thought we'd take a look at some popular holiday classics to determine what's really going on behind the merriment and good cheer.

Jingle Bells
Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bob tails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight 

I don't know where these people came from, but the idea of riding around in an open carriage behind a horse with enough snow on the ground to warrant a sleigh is NOT fun, it's insane. Do you know how cold that would be? The wind alone would make you freeze in mere minutes, and you certainly wouldn't be singing any sleighing songs. Don't believe me? Wait until the dead of winter and drive around for a few minutes with all your car windows down. And I have some sad news for you-- if you're being driven out into the middle of the woods in the dead of winter by a crew who is impervious to bitter cold and laughing about it the whole time, guess what: you're probably not coming out of those woods. In short, Jingle Bells is about a bunch of murderous psychos driving their next victim out into the woods to harvest their flesh. 

Laughing all the way, making lampshades out of skin..

Winter Wonderland

In the meadow we can build a snowman,
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown
He'll say: Are you married?
We'll say: No man,
But you can do the job
When you're in town.
Later on, we'll conspire,
As we dream by the fire
To face unafraid,
The plans that we've made,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

This one is only slightly creepier than the last one. Apparently the author is perfectly ok with not only inventing a person out of snow, but then having that imaginary person perform a legally binding wedding ceremony. And notice the next verse- conspiring to face the plans the person has made without fear. This is pretty much what serial killers do before they go out and murder people. In short, if a crazy person invents imaginary people and wants to conspire with you by a fire, don't take any sleigh rides with them.
Merry Christmas. The hour of cleansing is at hand.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

He's making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who's naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town
He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!
O! You better watch out!
You better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town

Growing up, I was always told that Santa Claus was a benevolent figure that used some kind of preternatural powers to separate the good from the bad children and award gifts accordingly. This song paints a different picture. Santa Claus is watching you, all the time, even when you sleep, and will put you on a list and dole out your punishment accordingly. Hmm, extremely paternalistic, likes lists, no crying or dissent of any kind allowed, stern warnings precede his arrival... I think I know where Santa is going with this.
This guy wants a different kind of white Christmas.

Little Drummer Boy

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum

I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum 

I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That's fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum? 

So let me get this straight, guy: you show up to see a newborn infant, knowing you are too poor to get balloons or a onesie or anything, and your solution is to bang on a damn drum?? Let me tell you something- babies are fragile. They will wake up at the slightest noise, and their bodies are so delicate. THEY HAVE A FREAKING SELF-DESTRUCT BUTTON ON THE TOP OF THEIR SKULL FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! What in the hell makes you think it's a good idea to beat a drum in front of a newborn infant? I guess this is why you're poor.
Not much different than the drummer boy's gift

I'll get to some more songs soon.


Nonessentials said...

Very interesting perspective, even if it is pretty perverse.(I love the photos you found to illustrate your blog.) What about the travelogue song? The one that invites you to the Middle East if you're faithful? or joyful? or triumphant? How many of us will drop our Target shopping bags for that? Oh, by the way, Merry Christmas, Justin!

Saskia511 said...

*wipes away tears* An airhorn! Now I know why the dog was always howling when I awoke as an infant!

I thought you were going down the creepy child molester route with "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"...I mean, who wants to watch a child sleep, other than his overprotective mother? CHILD MOLESTERS, that's who. Mommy always told me not to stay too long on Santa's lap.

Justin T. said...

I believe I covered that topic in my post "The Catholic Church is wrong again".