Crate Digger: Alternative Christmas Songs
Every Christmas seems to be accompanied by the same sound track. I am not one to begrudge the extra income going into the pension funds of Noddy Holder, Roy Wood, Cliff Richard and co. but here is an alternative list, compiled from a search through my own record collection.
- Tom Waits: Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis
Tom Waits gruffly slurs out a round robin letter – with a sting in its tail.
- Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band: There ain’t no Santa Claus on the Evening Stage
The good Cap’n distends the blues to produce this lamentation. “Oh, ho,ho,ho,oh! Oh, no,no,no,no,oh!”
- The Who: Christmas
One of the great songs from “Tommy”; why isn’t this on the Christmas JukeBox?
- Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers: Abominable Snowman in the Market
The Modern Lovers meet an unhappy snowman in the supermarket; “down by the peas and carrots”.
- Sun Ra and the Qualities: It’s Christmas Time
In the 60’s Sun Ra would regularly release singles on his own record label to bring in a bit of extra cash. This one is by a Doo -Wop band, made up of members of his Arkestra.
- Cordelia’s Dad: The Frozen Girl
A traditional folk song, beautifully arranged: A sleigh ride ends in tragedy caused by vanity.
- Fats Waller: Swingin’ Them Jingle Bells
Fats Waller’s Jazzed up version of Jingle Bells.
- Sonny Rollins: In the Chapel in the Moonlight
Not sure whether the chapel is in Christmas moonlight, but it is Sonny Rollins on Tenor Sax, and that’s good enough for me.
- Walter Carlos: Sonic Seasonings, Winter
Walter Carlos was an early pioneer of electronic music. This is his 20 minute, 31 seconds meditation on Winter.
- Coleman Hawkins and Red Allen: Maryland, My Maryland
“Maryland, My Maryland” is based on the German carol “O Tannenbaum” (“O Christmas Tree). It also provides the melody for the Labour Party’s anthem “The Red Flag”. Coleman Hawkins and Red Allen swing through this version with joyful aplomb.
By Tony Webster
3 thoughts on “Crate Digger: Alternative Christmas Songs”
That has thrown down the gauntlet. Great collection – well done
I can’t match Crate Digger’s trawl through a whole album collection – it would take me until next Christmas – but I have come up with 10 songs you may not have heard before. Although some may have a hint of familiarity:
1. Pledge Drive – Christmas Rhapsody.
See what I mean? Utter genius but I so wish I’d heard Freddy singing it.
2. Brenda Lee – I’m Gonna Lasso Santa Claus
Brenda’s first Christmas single from 1956 is a cheery little number describing what she’d like to do to Santa to keep him happy
3. The Drifters – I Remember Christmas
I have no idea which version of the Drifters produced this short little ditty but I believe it hails from 1964. Just as you would expect.
4. James brown – Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto
The Funkmeister’s impassioned plea for Santa to dish out pressies to poor kids
5. Bob Dylan – It Must Be Santa
In 2009, Bob Dylan released his thirty-fourth studio album, Christmas in the Heart, a holiday album for which all the proceeds went to feeding America. Otherwise a Christmas song from Bob would be a somewhat strange concept. Hillbilly fun.
6. Kate Bush – December Will Be Magic Again
From a 1979 Christmas Special. Kate at her brilliant best and hinting of Wuthering Heights and Wow.
7. Ramones – Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)
A punk plea for domestic harmony no less. But it was one of their latter offerings from 1989
8. Spinal Tap Christmas With the Devil
Is nothing sacred? From ‘Return of Spinal Tap’ the heavy metal parody goes on. Includes a church organ!
9. No Doubt – Oi to the World
Strange reggae/punk number with lovely brass. Pogo away – Oi!
10 The Killers – Don’t Shoot Me Santa
Normally the worst that can happen to naughty children is they don’t get any presents. In this drama the down and out Santa is digging a hole in the desert whilst Brandon pleads for his life. Cheery!
I have submitted 8 songs of Christmas delights too. Hope you like them.
1. Freedom Fry – Oh Santa (Bad World)
Santa laying low and resisting temptation. Cheery sound, subversive lyrics
2. The Cave Singers ~ Christmas Night
Forthcoming single from the Seattle based folk pop trio
3. Summer Camp – I Don’t Wanna Wait Til Christmas
Another current offering – this from Summer Camp’s Christmas EP
4. Carly Jamison – Christmas May Have To Be Postponed
Cheery rockabilly song
5. Pentatonix – Little Drummer Boy Acappella
The acapella superstars do their magic on this old Christmas favourite
6. B.B. King – Merry Christmas Baby
The guitar work makes it superior to the Otis Redding version
7. Joni Mitchell – River
Beautiful song from the 1979 classic album, Blue. Beautifully covered by Annette Oakes at a do in Belper last week
8. Jeremy Lister – Santa’s Lost His Mojo
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