Brandston altrocks “Christmas in Ohio” as a metaphor for how much you cheer me up, babe. Which is all poetical and slick, but not holiday.
Laura Elder has sent up “Christmas in Killarney” by singing about Ohio. She’s all home-canned sweet preserves, she is. Irish humor is the best, all dancing and laughing and hitting below the belt.
Chantilly Lace has got a startlingly sinister bit of nostalgia entitled “Christmas in Cleveland.” Something, so the song relates, went wrong with young love around the holidays way back when, and it sounds like like we’re about to suffer a snow-covered body count by some Santa-looking killer. Well, that’s my read on it.
Keeping up with that new sound the kids like in their rock and their roll (’90s-style), I’m gonna pop open my advent to The Raveonettes’ “Christmas in Cleveland” from their album Wishing You a Rave Christmas. These are, wait for it, Danish indie rockers (purportedly influenced by the Everly Bros). I like the garage post punk noise here. It reminds you that Christmas is about young people lost in the world… y’know like Jo-boy and Mary-baby looking for some friendly refuge for birthin’. Sune Rose and Sharin Foo are old school cool, despite their overmodulated indecipherable lyric-noise. Don’t join in and sing along!
Oy. There are not quite as many songs about New York Christmas as there are denizens of The City. Apart from one ditty I discovered about Christmastime in Syracuse, the rest of the state is hardly considered. Certainly boroughs get some due: I hope you’re familiar with Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis.” Classic. Kanye has a “Christmas in Harlem.” Master P’s is “Christmas in the Ghetto,” also by Gary Barner and O.F.T.B. Dnasty lays down some rhymes over the ‘Christmas in Hollis’ beat karaoke style with his “Christmas in Compton.” He tries but seems to run outta breath. Or–even better: “Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto.” I’ve got that by Snoop Dogg, James Brown, and Mojo Nixon –plenty more cover that old chestnut! And hey, remember ol’ Bootsy Collins? “N-Yo-City” is mostly a seasonal party song (from Cincinnati). Trying to get upbeat and ’70s style pop is Jim Indell with “Christmas on Staten Island.” (He rhymes ‘smilin” with ‘Island!’ and ends with a ‘…yeahhhh!’) Abigail Breslin and Rob Thomas have interesting, earnest entries on Gotham as well, if you want to feel lost and alone. NYC’s got an overstuffed cornucopia of Christmassing. One of the most overplayed big apple holiday haunters is alt rock The Pogues’ piece: “Fairytale in New York.” It’s so seminal I’ve got a couple covers on that, too. Listen to it, laugh and cry over it. It’s even got at least one parody (a Minecraft Parody, i’m sorry to say): “Fairytale of Spisco.” But the, you know, get over it.
Funnier caroling includes “Christmas in Brooklyn” by Erik Frandsen. It’s the usual fugeddabowdit kinda stuff.
My official offering is from a group called Marah, off an album entitled A Christmas Kind of Town, and later collected on Oh Santa! New & Used Christmas Classics from Yep Roc. The band has been alt-country-ing for 20 years and have a following which includes self appointed Pop of King, Steven King: “These guys are either the American U2 or close enough for government work.” This particular strummin’ bit of fun was inspired by and played on This American Life ’05.
One way to channel your irritation with inappropes iterations of Christmas collages is to go garage rock. Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band rasp and wrangle their way through rude rollickin’ reminders that KMart provokes people toward their dark side in his antic anthem “Christmas at KMart.” The 1980s were full of such brutal truths.
Hey, don’t believe me: this Root Boy Slim guy, Foster MacKenzie was a Yale grad who had a psychotic break after LSD and helmed his own band. Is that not a recipe for insightful novelty nuance? Smarter people than we had tried to explain the Yuletides, yet have we listened? It’s time. Give RBS a chance to connect you with early shopping syndrome and falala fatigue.
P.S. Big ups for including the name of the album in the lyrics as a purchase suggestion. Keeping the spirit of the message alive.