BLUE ALERT: the s word (8)

Don’t forget now, we’re locking elbows with the lowest common denominators of society: the profane. Life is terrible. What’re ya gonna do? Curse!

So watch down your nose Wish Crosby and Flo Murphy getting their Christmas from the Family on with “Shitty Shaggin’ Christmas.” They’re a regular Archie and Edith bunker three rungs down the trailer park.


The Future: Robots (2)

The big star in Santa Robots is from the Matt Groening cartoon Futurama. Despite the show’s musicality, however, there’s no good santa-is-a-robot song from the series.

So here’s Bear Ron’s tribute to the show’s murderous Kringle: “Sci Fi Santa.” It’s got that unplugged end-of-the-world country music feel to it. (Not sure why robo-claus needs a robo-pup, though.)

State Forty-Four: Arizona

Well, i can’t find any Grand Canyon sized Nativity scenes sung about for the AZ, so let’s settle for hokey-folk.
The White Family (Mr. and Mrs. White, and White Jr.) melodize all your favorites for “2010’s Another White Christmas (In Arizona).” It’s a break from all the oddities i’ve collected to watch a home movie of Arizonians play-acting for all their friends. Okay, that’s pretty odd, too. Maybe not.
Vic Sorrell is included in Christmas Across America with “The Gift of Arizona.” This is corrido-style, all spiritually sad and didn’t-get-what-he-wanted-for-Xmas-Eve-from-Mexico (it was love).
While we’re on the subject of the neighbor to the south, let’s give a careful listen to “Christmas Time in Arizona” by Aaron Parr & the Hereford Boys. Hey look, the border patrol checks out Santa! I guess AZ identifies with illegales so much that the whole state celebrates the holidays with official papers, not xmas cards. With such an insistent guitar beat and campfire hoarse harmony, it’s hard to judge how humorous this is supposed to be. Are hot dogs and pie traditional yule fare down there?

State Thirty-Nine: Wyoming

The Equality State says nothing more to me than solid rock at mountainous altitudes where no one should be expected to survive. Like Santa.
But if you wanna get all hand-holdy and Kumbaya i suggest you listen to “Wyoming Winter Wonderland” by Dan Schafer (from his wonderful Christmas Across America collection). The unconcerned banjo plinkling in the background, the group harmony like it’s an Old Navy ad, the metaphorical weather observations… it’s that late in the party drowsy sensation. Netflix up the “Charlie Brown” somebody!
I’m confused by the inappropriately light-hearted “Free Frosty (From Wyoming)” by Amie Vandevrie. It posits that unless our famous mobile molded snowman leaves cowboy country, he’ll melt. You mean like it’s warmer in New England? And don’t get me started on the “dance version” embedded in this song. I’m not ready to rave over Frosty’s remains.
I’ll settle for a nice quiet fireside reflection on the season with “Wyoming Christmas” by John A McCallum. This Canadian cowboy complained he ran out of songs he liked to play, so he started writing. It was because of that love for music that he named his Youtube channel “Tune Smitten.” A homegrown British Colombian boy he credits the sound of ‘Cheyenne, Wyoming’ as the inspiration for this pretty winter romance: “no time to be alone.” Bonus for lyrics included in the video. It’s like a little gift for me.

State Thirty-Eight: Montana


Big Skies, fly fishing… okay, ever since Jared Diamond’s Collapse all I can see for Montana is poisonous, poorly planned pollution and poverty. Hey it IS kinda like the American Christmas!

John Denver had a 1991 Christmas TV special entitled ‘Montana Christmas Skies‘ but i can find no Xmas songs about MT. Can you? (Just ‘Wild Montana Skies’ about the pushpull of countrycity on a poor boy’s soul. No redemptive births here, son.)

Have you met my favorite musical activist, Krista Detor? Detor is a song writer that has charted around the world and also stirred up humanist thoughts with her raucous poetry. From her album Silver Wood: Winter Songs she gives us “Sheriff Santa From Montana.” This ‘humor’ is a bit of cartoon fun with 21st C darkness. I suggest someone post-haste make a Plympton-style animation to go with this epic tale of kiddie moralism.

State Thirty-Three: Oklahoma

Blake Shelton owns this category with “Oklahoma Christmas.” His duet with Reba McIntire serves up canned corn homesickness about that special Sooner State of mind while being stuck in yucky Tennessee. It’s measured and moderate and has some fine guitar riffs. But it’s overplayed (and too Trail of Tears) and i can’t do that to you, i can’t i can’t i can’t.
Now Dana Spencer belts out “Oklahoma Christmas Spirit” “…straight from the heart of the heartland!!” and, while the fiddle helps, i begin to suffer from pudding filling. By the by, her pretty warbling and bountiful belting can be found on my fave Songs Across America–good stuff.
On to the wonderful and weird… Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis have been happily married with kids for years. And singing on the road (Texas mostly) with the Bruce and Kelly Show. They come off as homegrown, straight-shooting, the real deal. “Oklahoma Christmas” seems to document him at the in-laws’ holiday gettogether outtastate and the problems with translation Texans have with Oklahomans. At the end of the live track Kelly admits, “‘Sfunny ’cause it’s true.” And totally appropriate for the holidays.

State Thirty-Two: Texas

State Thirty-One: Texas
We left off with Santa, so let’s tip the Ten Gallon to “Santa Got Lost in Texas” by Michael Landon from the Christmas at the Ponderosa album. Love the shots of the cast square dancing during the show. (Redneck Carollers do a better version iffen you like the music.)(Iffen you don’t check out all the awful karaoke versions that i will not help you find.)
Speaking of weird, Shelley King belts out a mean “Christmas in Austin.” (Austin=weird, not her.) King’s voice is smoky and her guitar is beat within an inch of its life, but the whole thing is a little white bread for me.
LB Higginbotham sings “Happy 100th Christmas Lubbock, Texas.” It pokes folky style with Spanish guitar and breathy soul. Heartfelt and sad.
For a more earthy (if white honky tonk is earthy) carol check out “White Christmasses in Houston” from Branded Duo. Fiddle–check, bass–check, guitar–check, smart aleck Southern wit–check. This one’s got it all.
Prettier and more mainstream is “Dallas Christmas” by Tim Halperin. So this is what happens to American Idol castoffs.
San Antonio Christmas” by Randy Carroll is just a sad rehash of Amy Grant’s “Tennessee Christmas” with only the name changed to protect the creativity. (Is San Antone Exactly Like TN??)
El Paso’s KLAQ morning show did a funny a few years back about a news story that went national: mostly undressed homeless man squatting under a bridge getting evicted by the city. Their holiday tribute may be observed by ‘tubing “Naked Cave Man.”
The Big Deal for the state is “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas” popularized by George Strait. It’s pop country and not my cuppa tea. The video i ‘tubed was a laughable garden party where he’s lipsyncing (badly) & gladhanding all the GOBs and blue hairs like he’s running for Favorite Son. Yeargh.
Asleep at the Wheel is more trad country and their truckin’ and drinkin’ “Christmas in Texas” (w/Kevin Fowler) is more authentic–even with that flashy pee-yanner.
Texas Latino does a stirring version of the most comprehensive Texas Xmas anthem “Christmas in Texas.” The name dropping is matched only by the slide guitar.
On the amateur homefront, David Higginbotham fronts his own “Christmas in Texas” as a missing you love paean. This modest, self-parodying honest effort is more fun than most of the overproduced trying-too-hard Big State stuff.
John Evans Band does a 180 with their”Christmas Time in Texas.” But, while their younger music borders on alt honky tonk the song devolves, hilariously, into a Lone Star commercial.
Dale Watson plays it straight with “Christmas Time in Texas” (from the movie Angels Sing), then turns it around with “Hot Texas Christmas Day.” They’re both fine, fine fine… better guitar than lyric.
More formulaic and corporately Christian is Dan Schafer (Christmas Across America) with “On This Texas Christmas.” Rock country fun for everyone in general and no one in particular.
Pushing the comedy envelope, Dr Elmo sings “Texas Chainsaw Christmas.” It’s what you think.
And i know Robert Earl Keene’s “Merry Christmas From the Family” is set in Texas, but the title don’t say so.
Let’s get back to talent: When i think TX i think cowboy and ranger and hardy soul and big talker… sounds like Gene Autry to me! Now his “The Night Before Christmas (In Texas, That Is)” should be a classic played more than anything else here. And I shoulda picked that to make sure my selection was out of the ordinary. But I’m going with “Merry Texas Christmas You All,” which captures the clime, the time, and the sublime. Sure, Asleep at the Wheel, Michael Martin Murphy, Ernest Tubb, The Cones Sisters, Ranch House Favorites, Elton Britt and the Beaver Valley Sweethearts, and more have sung the Sweet Jesus out of this cornpone, but I gotta stay with that kerchief wearin’ Hollywood horseman Grover Orvon. Fake cowboy? Okay! American success story? Smile for the camera and say ‘Christmas icon millionaire!’ That’s what Texas means to me.

State Twenty: Tennessee

The Mecca of Music, Nashville, brings a lotta attention. Everybody wantsa sing ’bout the holiest of holy times in TN. We’ve already referenced Alabama‘s “Tennessee Christmas,” which was cowritten by Amy Grant (sometimes referred to as “Tender Tennessee Christmas”) and, in the spirit of giving, is covered by Steve Wariner, Point of Grace, Lee Greenwood, Danny Gokey, Krista Branch, Zorema, Isabeau, Otilia, and bunches of others i don’t even wanna know. All right already.
Chet Atkins has composed a gorgeous pickin’ piece entitled “East Tennessee Christmas,” which has no lyrics (whose game to write some?).
And of course Dolly’s got “Smoky Mountain Christmas.”
And do not bother with Lallie Bridges’s ridiculous “Tennessee at Christmas” which is nearly word for word the same as her “Nashville at Christmas.” X-Mass production w/o musical gifts!
To take a break, I looked at Nashville Christmas songs. Nativity gold! Bob Walkenhorst’s “Christmas in Nashville” is that age old homesick-stuck-in-my-career ballad. I like the twist wherein he’s singing about the place he’s trapped (Nashville) and not the place he yearns for. Aww, he had me at “Three Wise Men in a bar…”.
Dan Schafer’s “Christmas Time in Nashville” lays down a honky tonk track for that late-in-the-drunk wistfulness fulla Christianity and regret.
One charity org. has a medley online that includes some homeless holiday conscience prodders: “East Nashville Christmas.” The 75 artists played wherever you might’ve donated a few years back. But their site is still allowing you to give for the Christ of it.
Still my playlist has gotta include “If Jesus Were Born in Tennessee” by Jason Cox & Bryan McKaig from their album Hark! A Providence Christmas. No lie, these Christian boys play this in church. It’s proper country, the funny kind (think Homer&Jethro, not Rick Dees): sly without irony. Now, these boys finally have a youtube channel and their traditional stuff rocks too, so give a listen, y’hear?

State Eighteen: Alabama

Now the standard here should be “Christmas in Dixie” by the band Alabama (also covered by Kenny Chesney and others). But that does not play by my rules. It does not celebrate the High Mass via a particular locale, whether state or famous city within (state of mind doesn’t count). And my selection needs to be off the beaten path a bit. And not blow that hard.
So, consider Christmas Across America‘s “An Alabama Moon for Christmas” by Scat Sprigs. It’s all jazz band high life which reminds me more of some late night talk show in-house group, rather than Montgomery Blues. Finger snapping more than hallelujahing.
I love the internet. For it was here I found another song by that group Alabama about Christmas in the state of Tennessee sung by a teen blondie who changed the lyrics to fit her state of Alabama. She’s a Nashville Rising Star, though she’s since taken down this homemade recording. What this lacks in quality it makes up for in volume. Look for Lillian Glanton around Joe’s Crab Shack in Nashville, or the Athens Saturday Market in Athens, GA. She’s a serious, perky, spunky Southern Belle.