“There is a remarkable breakdown of taste and intelligence at Christmastime.”
— P.J. O'Rourke
Folks, I'm not going to start getting down on the holiday spirit (there will be more than enough time for that later), instead I would just like to say cool it with the Christmas carols already!
It seems every year the moment after the Thanksgiving turkey has been picked over and the wishbone has been broken radio stations begin playing nothing but nonstop Christmas songs. It's as though the sweet lyrics have given me sugar shock and I'm not sure how many more choruses I can take.
Did you know there are hundreds of versions of "Silent Night" playing this year? How silent can it be if the band is still plugged into their amps? Bon Jovi has a version. Sinatra has a version. Even Manowar does a cover, which means the loudest band in the world wants to let me know how quiet it was two millennial ago. How's that for yuletide irony?
And it can be a bit confusing, because right after they play "Silent Night" they go into "Do You Hear What I Hear?" And therein lies my confusion. Is it a quiet night or not? Someone needs to explain to me what I'm supposed to be listening for.
I'll admit that I do get nostalgic at times when Burl Ives starts crooning. I'll even confess that the Trans-Siberian Orchestra can get my blood pumping and my toes tapping, but when I actually sit down and listen to some of these songs I realize that most of our traditional tunes are really quite depressing.
Take Elvis, for instance. The King himself is going on about how he's going to have a “blue” Christmas. George Michael told of how last Christmas he gave you his heart and the very next day you gave it away. The ultimate in garland glum, though, has to be "I'll Be Home for Christmas." It starts out just fine with Bing saying he'll be there and to please have some snow and presents under the tree, but as the chorus goes on we find it'll only be in his dreams. So is it a merry Christmas because Bing's missing? Is there going to be a search party? These are the questions that go through my head after five grueling hours of uninterrupted caroling.
I'm not even going to get into the creepiness factor in "Baby, It's Cold Outside." Just listen to the lyrics really carefully next time it's on and you'll never hear Deano in the same tone again.
So where does it all leave us? A song about grandma getting into a hit-and-run with a sleigh. I don't know about you, but I've never associated voluntary manslaughter with the season of giving. But that's where we find ourselves in this day and age. Maybe when I sit on Santa's lap I could ask for earplugs. Surely then I'll have a silent night.