Okay, here’s my latest project:
While riffin’ through my yule tunes i paused on some totally local Oregon (my neck o’ the woods) Christmas cataloging: Christina Eastman’s “Merry Christmas from Oregon.” I have loco-centric celebrations from Baltimore (David Deboy) and Louisiana (Benny Grunch) and i treasure the in-jokes, the in-the-know references. These are not easy to find for far away places, even on line. So I had to wonder… does every state in the good ol’ USA stand up and say (along the lines of) “Nebraskan Christmases are the best!” and “Don’t you wish you were spending 12/25 in Florida?”?
So, i began ‘tubin’ to find 50 songs that named the state, celebrated the winter holidays, and perhaps showed a little local flavor. Couldn’t do it. I been wrasslin’ with this for weeks now and the best i got is: cool/odd/funny song; title has a state/city; it’s Christmas-themed, or Chanukah-ish, or Kwanzaa-able, or at least Winter; and it might serve the Chamber of Commerce for tourist trade or maybe run under nightly news show credits right around the Solstice.
Now I have to admit something: this is not a new idea and some people have been making $$ by recycling music with DIFFERENT NAMES subbed in. This crass cashmercialization will not serve my purposes, even when there’s little else of state pride to pick from. For those curious to see how low such sunken depths of grinchy depravity fall i will at times ID these corrupt copycat carolers. For now, let me ask you to please NOT look up Personalisongs. Or Say It Messages. The same song for every state, major city, foreign nation, and niece and nephew…. erraghouy! On the other hand Dan Schafer and a stable of talented country singers have cobbled together Christmas Across America in four volumes. While bluegrass for Oregon is odd, and most of the songs work Christmas in circuitously, I will be relying on a few of these great works when homegrown don’t help.
I call my collection
FIFTY STATES OF ‘MERICA-MAS
(which is a sad tortured play on words that i won’t further elaborate on)
Now I do include D.C. And I’m looking for Puerto Rico, Guam, Samoa, Virgin Islands, and maybe the Navajo Nation. Those will be postscripts. So, more than fifty….
I’m not going to map you out a road trip, but we’ll start upper right and end up upper left (me), swooping N-S-N-etc.
So, State One: Maine.
New England Winters are in a class of their own, but Maine is not a strong contender in our Best of — competition here. Nobody’s holly jolly-ing lobsters and Stephen King. There is a Chamber of Commerce pick that creates a saccharine crust in mine ears: “The Maine Christmas Song.” But I can’t tell who perpetrated this.
My eventual pick for weirdest Maine Holiday Song is a beat poem hip hop harmonica stand up routine by Bob Marley. No, Not THAT Bob Marley. (He claims his dad did not know there was a famous person with that name.) He’s a local comic made good, been on Letterman, Conan, etc. And he holds the world’s record for longest standup. (I thought that was called filibustering.) (It was 40 hours.) His comic occupation has been going strong 20 years and he’s dropped more than a couple dozen albums. This holiday homage to home does what many natives do: complain, with love in the heart about their darned old home.
BLUE ALERT -slight profanity