Most People Call Them Green Onions But They’re Really Scallions

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Who don’t love Christmas?  Most of us, but as Wonderlick said, it’s nice to pretend.  Here’s another hypothetical mix CD, and it’s all Christmas Songs, since it’s getting to be that time of year again (unless you’re reading this later, like, in January. In which case, well, I guess it’s still getting to be that time of year again, just much, much more slowly.), and there’s a lot of awful Christmas records out, so perhaps there will be some on here that people can actually enjoy, huh? (Also: I think there should be a moratorium on Xmas Mix CDs with the Pogues‘ “Fairytale Of New York”, just because it’s basically the One Good Song Everyone Knows About Already. Though it is basically my favorite Xmas song ever.)

The title comes from a piece not actually on here:  “Yulenet (Christmas Dragnet)” by Stan Freberg.  Honestly that and his single “Green Chri$tma$” are both must-hear records, so you should seek them out right away.  They’re both wonderful.

A Christmas Carol – Tom Lehrer
I’ve always been a huge fan of Tom Lehrer — I’ve ended up buying his complete discography about 3 times through various reissues. This is the live version from An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer. It’s a sentiment that’s often repeated (the commercialization of Christmas seems to be awfully unpopular for something so prevalent), but Tom Lehrer does it cleverly. I suppose this would actually be a good companion piece with “Green Chri$tma$”.
Santa Claus – The Sonics
This is the first and original version of this song that appears on this mix. I really love both this song and the Sonics — and I’ve got a bunch of versions on my computer (including one rather surprising act covering it…) so I figured I might as well provide a “Santa Claus” clearing house. This was from a Christmas EP that Etiquette Records put out, and the Sonics’ songs got reissued on the recent CD issue of Here Are The Sonics!!!!.
Christmas Wish – Takako Minekawa
One of the many Takako Minekawa releases that never came out in the US (boo!), this is from her Christmas EP Baroque In Winter. It’s actually a pretty straightforward Christmas song, full of the delicate touches that Takako Minekawa typically does, although a little bit J-poppier than she typically got. Still, though, what I’d like for Christmas is for her to do another record…
Evergreen – mc chris
Apparently mc chris has trouble with getting people to understand that after “Fucking Up My Christmas”, he actually DID do a holiday-oriented song. Granted, it’s not your standard Christmas song, as they’re typically not about buying weed from a guy who sells Christmas trees. But, you know, that’s kind of close, I suppose. This is from his most recent record, Eating’s Not Cheating
The Christmas Puppy – Dudley Dogg Jr.
This is yet another song which opens with sleigh bells. There’s a lot of them. It seems you could probably figure out the odds of a Christmas song opening with sleigh bells, and it’d probably be even money. Strangely, even if the song has nothing to do with sleighs or bells. This is one of the cuts from the 365 Days Project, and it’s one of those David Seville knockoffs with the sped-up vocals. The strange thing about stuff like this is that, well, it’s a good thing that animals don’t talk, because when they do, it sounds hell of creepy. Like they’re possessed by the devil or something. The CHRISTMAS devil.
Christmas Is Going To The Dogs – Eels
On the other hand, eels know how to do a Christmas song from a dog’s point of view. Mainly by not speeding up E’s voice so it sounds all dispossessed and creepy. Also by being actually funny and cute, but either way. According to the site, this is from the soundtrack to that horrible Jim Carrey adaptation of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, but this sounds like it was taken from vinyl — perhaps it’s from a fan-club-type single, although nothing like that is listed on their website. Oh well. Maybe it’s because I downloaded the mp3 from someone who had no idea how to rip stuff.
Christmas In Hollis – Run-D.M.C.
Yeah, this is probably one of those that should have been on the “Fairytale Of New York” list of “Good Songs That’ll Probably Be On Everyone’s Mix Just Because There’s So Few Good Songs”, but whatever. Run-D.M.C. are AWESOME. And, well, that’s probably basically all you need to know. If by some strange weird fluke you haven’t heard this before… Weird.
Christmas in Dimension X – James Kochalka Superstar
One of the two James Kochalka Superstar tracks on here. This one’s taken from the Goodies Section of the subscription American Elf site. Which is SO worth the subscription as James Kochalka is one of the best cartoonists working today and his Sketchbook Diaries project is one of those that I do not hesitate to say is Capital-I-Important. Anyway, this is a goofy little song about an inter-dimensional Christmas. Even though there’s two Xmas songs on here by Kochalka, he’s actually done quite a few more. Dude loves Christmas.
Feast Of Lights – They Might Be Giants
Hey, look! It’s a Hanukkah song! It’s sort of the other side of the coin to “We Just Go Nuts At Christmas Time” — TMBG are really good at doing a lot of Christmas Songs about horrible holidays, and I guess for this one they decided not to leave out the Jews. So now they’ve got their own Horrible Holiday song. Only the song is actually really good, but you know, whatever. Like “We Just Go Nuts At Christmas Time”, it’s about a holiday with a divorced couple. Or perhaps it’s about a estranged family, like a parent and child. Either way, though, it’s just a little bit depressing. Just like the real holidays!
Countdown To Christmas Party Time – XTC
Andy Partridge and I have another thing in common (aside from a very vague physical resemblance) — we’re both atheists who love Christmas. This was from the XTC Christmas single (recorded as the Three Wise Men — originally, it was slated to be recorded by the secretarial pool at their label — to be credited as “The Virgin Marys”, but this plan was shelved as being sacrilegious or something). This is actually the flip (the A-side was “Thanks For Christmas”, which tends to show up a lot on Christmas Compilations), and Andy said it was recorded “to keep the single from warping”, but I actually like this one. I suppose it’s not quite as good as the A-side, but, eh, it’s goofy and fun. Sometimes the things to keep singles from warping are the best.
Even Squeaky Fromme Loves Christmas – Reverend Glen Armstrong
It’s another 365 Days Project song! I thought this one was actually intentionally recorded as a novelty/comedy single, although re-reading the blurb about it there makes me not so sure. Apparently Rev. Glen Armstrong was doing a lot of experimental stuff, then had a breakdown and found God or something, and then self-released this stuff. So… yeah. I don’ t know. I still find it hard to believe that “When Jesus died for Man’s sins/He even died for Manson’s” is anything but, you know, kidding. 
Santa Claus – Belle & Sebastian
This is one of the bands, if I had to make a list of all the bands who were expected to cover, well, any Sonics song, if I put them on that list, it’d be at the bottom, and as a joke. But here we are, from one of the John Peel Christmas Shows. And, well, they do a pretty awesome version of it. It’s still pretty rockin’, really, and they really get into it. Maybe sometime they’ll do a studio version, or release all their Peel sessions. Either way, though, this is both unexpected and awesome.
Merry Christmas, Mr. Gulp Gulp – The Young Fresh Fellows
This is from their 1984 Fan Club Cassette “Merry Croutons, Mr. Gulp Gulp”, and was the Young Fresh Fellows’ approach to the yearly Christmas record of groups like The Beatles and whatnot. It’s basically just them screwing around in studio and doing some new songs, some covers and some different (sometimes Christmas-y, like in the case of “Down By The Pharmacy”) versions of their own songs. Strangely, if I was going to guess a band who WOULD have a cut on “Santa Claus”, the Fellows’d be at the top of THAT list, but… there you go. Anyway, here’s a nice little song about that sense of forgiveness that permeates during the Christmas season. (Also, booze.)
I Had Sex With Santa – Barnes & Barnes
Barnes & Barnes have done a series of “I Had Sex With…” songs, and this is the Christmas version! Every “Sex With” song has the same music, but different lyrics. They’re not really my favorite Barnes & Barnes songs, but they’re catchy and silly and they’re the sort of thing that makes me laugh in spite of myself. This was finally reissued on the Sicks album as a bonus track. 
Hooray For Santy Claus – Fluffy Kittens
I think I pretty much always put a Fluffy Kittens song on everything just about, so, here. This is a cover of the beloved theme song from the beloved film Santa Claus Conquers The Martians. It wasn’t ever released, but it came from Matthew Amster-Burton’s website a long time ago. It is pretty awesome, and, like their cover of “Kentucky Homemade Christmas” (which almost showed up on here instead), it’s more electrified than they typically got.
It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas – Pet Shop Boys
I love the Pet Shop Boys — this isn’t one of their best tracks, but it is a Christmas song, so there you go. It was released to their fan club as a special single, and then last year they posted it to their website as a freebie. I have to say, I don’t really have too much more to add, but hey. It’s a Pet Shop Boys Christmas song, what more do you want?
I Don’t Have A Christmas Tree (Soylent Night) – Mark Mothersbaugh
Mark Mothersbaugh put out a Christmas album on Rhino Handmade, then it got re-issued (after some track shuffles) on Rhino proper. I bought it when it came out, but I CANNOT FIND MY COPY which is really cheezing me off, because it’s been lost since College, and it’s a limited edition thing and everything. Anyway, this is one of the few vocal tracks from that record, Joyeaux Mutato. This is probably as close as DEVO’ll get to this sort of thing.
Must Be Santa – Billy Nayer Show
This is from Cory McAbee’s short “The Man In The Moon”, and it was released as a 7″ (b/w “The Explanation”), which ended up getting reissued as a bonus feature on The Early Years DVD. This is a fun little Christmas sing-along. And I like the way some of the lyrics end up telescoping. It’s also strange because it’s one of the few Christmas songs outside of They Might Be Giants that’s a bit insulting to Santa. Except for the last verse. 
Christmas Letter Home – Laura Cantrell
Here’s another John Peel Christmas Session track, this time from Laura Cantrell! This one’s never been released, but it is pretty cool and pretty sad, but a lot of Laura Cantrell’s stuff has that division. Apparently it was written by Camden Joy and originally performed with his band The Oswalds. I don’t really know anything else about this song, and that might even be inaccurate. 
The Night Santa Went Crazy – “Weird Al” Yankovic
For this song, “Weird Al” recorded two versions — this is the b-side only “Extra Gory Version”. The album version is on Bad Hair Day. I’ve always liked this song quite a bit, and, hey, it’s sort-of-a-style-parody on “Mama, I’m Coming Home” by Ozzy Osbourne, and I’ve always loved that song, too. Ozzy’s pretty awesome, and so’s Al, but I don’t think Ozzy’s done any Christmas songs, and Al’s done at least two. So there you go.
Partridge Pairing – The Residents
I suppose this one isn’t a Christmas Song per se, as it was released as part of the Residents’ Brumalia festival last year (an ancient pagan holiday that ended up getting rolled into a lot of Christmas traditions, including the whole “12 Days Of Christmas” business). Every day for 12 days, the Residents posted a new song, each based (to some extent, some more loosely than others) on a verse of “The 12 Days Of Christmas”. This is (obviously) the first one, and it’s a bit of a collage of Christmas stuff, past and future Residents stuff, and for this particular one, a bit of stuff that may or may not be suggested by the title. 
We Just Go Nuts At Christmas Time – They Might Be Giants
This is an unreleased They Might Be Giants song (they sure have a lot of those…), initially recorded for Dial-A-Song, although this version is one they re-recorded for the Frank O’Toole Show on WFMU in 1987. (You can tell because they change the spoken bridge slightly, and the audio quality’s a bit better.) One of the many TMBG songs about people falling apart at Christmas. This is what you’d call fertile ground for They Might Be Giants, particularly John Flansburgh. Also, dig the reference to “D-I-V-O-R-C-E”. 
Christmas Can Of Corn – James Kochalka Superstar
This song is just incredibly goofy but fun. It’s another one of the American Elf subscription songs. It’s a song about Christmas from the other side. It really makes you think about folks who might not have it as well-off as us, y’know? It’s really, you know, poignant.
Ruby Left A Present Under the Christmas Tree – Too Much Joy
In 2000 or thereabouts, Too Much Joy did their first studio recordings since 1996’s …finally album. And it was a special Christmas single for their fans! It was just two songs, this, b/w “Canadian Girlfriends” (which wasn’t really a Christmas song, but hey). Since then, every year, they put this song up for free download at their site. It’s kind of cool. It’s not really recorded that well, but whatchagonnado. This is actually ripped from the CD version of the single, so, you know, this is as good as it gets. 
The Rocking Disco Santa Claus – The Sisterhood
Would it really be Christmas without a song-poem? And here’s a dandy! It’s the Rocking Disco Santa Claus! Off to do the Rockin’ Disco! Just think, though, “Peace And Love” aside, this is one of the best Song-Poems I’ve heard. So, if you’re new to the whole Song-Poem thing… yeah. Strangely, “The Rockin’ Disco Santa Claus” is probably the most depressing Christmas song ever — which you probably wouldn’t expect from the title. But, can you deny it? I don’t think so. Just listen to the spoken bit. Seriously. Wow. 
Santa Claus – They Might Be Giants
This is the last of the “Santa Claus”es, and probably the cleanest recording of the three! It’s also the last of the three They Might Be Giants songs on here. (And I didn’t even come close to exhausting my collection of TMBG and TMBG-related Christmas songs! Hell, their Holidayland release didn’t even come close, either! Seriously, what’s up with that? That CD was kind of a rip-off. For reals. I mean, I liked having the new recording of “Santa Claus”, but what about, say, “Christmas Cards”, the flip to the “O Tannenbaum” 7″? Huh? 5 songs? And what’d they charge for it, like 10 bucks? And half of those songs were readily available on albums? Seriously, that’s weak-ASS.) 
All I Want For Christmas… – Shonen Knife
Shonen Knife has had a few Christmas singles as well, and this is from their most recent, and this track got compiled on the Japanese-only English-Language (figure that one out…) Best-Of Millennium Collection. This is written by Naoko Yamano with Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth. Tell you the truth, I’ve always found Sonic Youth to be a band that’s much better on paper than in practice, but this is an awesome song. (Oddly enough, I’ve also liked their previous collaboration, “Butterfly Boy” from Rock Animals a whole lot, too. Perhaps Sonic Youth just needs to hang out with Shonen Knife more often.) Anyway, this is just a nice, happy Christmas song. 
I’m A Christmas Tree – Wild Man Fischer
This is a collaboration between Wild Man Fischer, Barnes & Barnes and Dr. Demento on vocals, taken from the Rhino Handmade release The Fischer King. The Wild Man Fischer story is very, very interesting and very, very sad — a documentary was made about him this year, Derailroaded, which I heartily recommend to everyone. The Northwest Film Forum played it earlier this year, but it might play in town again, or be released on DVD. For those who missed that great film, Larry “Wild Man” Fischer’s been putting out records since the 1960s, when he was discovered by Frank Zappa (who seemed to see him more as a freak show to promote himself, although there is controversy as to whether or not he actually liked Wild Man Fischer as a musician/singer or not; the promotion of the album, however, makes the “Freak Show” side of things a bit more likely). When he and Frank Zappa had a falling out (Larry’s a paranoid schizophrenic, and had a violent episode near Gail Zappa and an infant Moon), he disappeared for a while and came back on Rhino Records, with his first single, “Go To Rhino Records,” for the new label (which was THEIR first single too!), and put out their first LP, Wildmania. After that, Barnes & Barnes produced his last two LPs. Most of his output (the album he recorded on Zappa’s Bizarre label hasn’t been reissued; Gail Zappa is sitting on the rights and is refusing to release it) was compiled, along with a bunch of new and bonus tracks, as The Fischer King, and his most recent work is in the documentary. This isn’t one of his best songs, but, like all of Wild Man Fischer’s stuff, it’s catchy and gets stuck in your head. And it’s Christmas, too! Rhino seems to be reissuing the individual albums (at least Wildmania, which is sadly, his weakest) to stores, so you might want to keep an eye out for that (or preferably, his two with Barnes & Barnes, Pronounced Normal and Nothing Scary, which are both very, very good.)

 





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