Sunday, December 2, 2007

Seasonal (AA)ffective Disorder

Go ahead.

Just you try it!

Just try and compare your Christmas music collection to mine!

I dare you! Even if you have me beat by one CD, LP or cassette tape (which you don't...) do you have an entire iPod solely dedicated to Christmas music? Huh? With over 6,000 Christmas related songs on it?? Well, do ya, bub!?! Huh!?

Not just the typical mundane trappings either but rare, obscure, underground, way off the charts type of stuff...

Audio ornaments such as aliens singing Christmas carols, preachers imploring little kids
to abandon Santa Claus and accept Jesus into their hearts or find themselves in hell on Christmas morn (cheery!), pornographic Christmas carols (e.g. "I Want A Blow Up Doll for Christmas" by Arnie Aardvark <--- yikes!), a CD dedicated entirely to every single song ever written and performed about Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (don't even get me started about the Auld Lang Syne compilation somewhere in my ill in the head gotten booty...), canticles strummed on rubber bands, a complete album about Santa Claus getting high on reefer, jingles produced by electric energy companies branding themselves as merry power providing Christmas elves!?!

Hey, did you know that Jesus Presley has a Christmas album out? Well, hell yeah, he does! "Christmas With Jesus Presley", of course. Duh!

Every spoof, mockery and re-imagining of just about any traditional Christmas tune possible can be found somewhere in my Christ-Massive collection! And the madness won't just end one day soon either I assure you; the music labels capitalize on lunatics like me and put out new and more bizarre compilations every year that I simply MUST have in my possession!

You wouldn't believe what they'll do to innocent holiday verse now-a-days!
Punk it out, Hip-Hop it up, Rock'N'Rollify it, Outsider it to death, Steel Drum Caribbeanize it, Indian Trans-Raga-morgrify it, belch it, spank it, laugh it, yodel it, tap-dance to it! Some even get R2-D2ed, remixed, reconfigured, lounge-cored, melted, warped, mash-upped, H-Bombed, acid-dropped, and on and on it goes!

Somebody, please ... spike my eggnog with Zoloft!

Yep, it is my annual end of the year addiction.

This is my Christmas crack(er).

My sugarplum wine.

My candy co-caine.

My Holiday Seasonal Affective Disorder! H.S.A.D?

Santa has his milk-and-cookies, I have an entire CD rack collection given totally over to Christmas music (my "O-CDs"...)! That's close to 500 holiday CDs, folks (and that doesn't include MP3 downloads, fyi...).

Ho, Ho, Hooowwwhat the Fudge du Noel!?!?!

Indeed, I am a Christmas Music-aholic-agist. A bon-bon-afide musical Noelaphile!

Oh, go ahead - laugh! You wouldn't be the first...

My wife thinks I must have been Santa Claus in a past-life - no, really, she tells her friends and co-workers this... "Oh, hey. So, you're, ummm, you're Heather's, ahhh ... you're Mr. Kringle, eh?"

My neighbors must think I'm Satan's Claws in the present-life; I start playing my music amped-up around early November.

And the happy white-coat wearing people will tell me whatever I want to think in my future-life, "Yes, Supreme Elf Commander, Santa sends his sincerest regards and once again regrets he won't be needing your services this year. He thinks you should stay right here - with us ... at 'Santa's Southern-Based Mass General Office' - where it's warmer and ... safer."


But, I am not alone in my affliction.

Hear me loud and midnight clear on this fact: There. Are. Others!

A Cult of Christmas Carol Connoisseurs!

A former colleague of mine actually piqued my curiosity about this whole sordid holiday affair many jingle-belled seasons ago. Several years back when I worked at Monitor Radio in Boston a fellow named Mike W. used to make Christmas themed CDs for everyone as gifts. Wonderful idea (he still does it to this day, too, by the way)! He has a huuuge Xmas CD collection, apparently, although I haven't seen it personally. But you know what the real scary thing is? He now comes to ME to find out what's making the latest Xmas music rounds! He's, in essence, passing the garlanded torch off to old Den Kringle and saying, "Here, bud, all yours. But, as I do still enjoy making these CDs every year, I'll tell you what ... would you mind being my official Christmas Music Archivist? Can we work something out? Do we have a deal?"

Oh, Holy Night, how did I ever find myself as lead magi in this Christmas Pageant?

Since that time, way back when, I have converted at least one other person to my secret double-life as one of Santa's Little Helpers. Admit it, Troy L.! You are shepherd-hooked! You have been sacked by Santa's bag, my friend, and are now being specially delivered to The Island of Misfit Boys!

Real funny story, too, this one...

After introducing Troy to the wondrous, and non-stop escapades, of Christmas music hunting I caught him absolutely red-handed (red-suited?) one day inside of Somerville, Mass.'s 'Disc Diggers' used-music shop ... and get this ... with a ceiling-high stack of Christmas CDs! And here's the real elf-kicker: he was accumulating this over-stuffed stocking of goodies ... in the middle of July.

Man, were you sheepish that day! Don't deny it, "Tiny Tim", you've been officially crippled. I remember how you turned beat-red and could barely look me in the eye after that. Why, I know not... no need for shame! This is a terrific hobby! Albeit, not the most sanity inducing sport, per se, but it's still relatively harmless for the most part (most harmful to the wallet...).

And, hey there, guy ... you know what I was there looking for that day ...?



Ahem, onward 'Ho'.

So, what gives? Why this humdinger of a holiday hang-up? Just what exactly are its elvishly evil origins, pray tell?

Okay, ready for your, "Awww, that is just ssssooooo cute!" moment?

Here goes...

I, like many of you, grew up watching the classic Rankin/Bass, et al. animated Christmas TV staples every year: "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer", "The Year Without A Santa Claus", "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town", "Frosty, The Snowman", "A Charlie Brown Christmas", and my all time favorite, "The Little Drummer Boy".


"The Little Drummer Boy"?

Now, that's odd. 'That was your favorite?', you may ask.

Usually the other shows qualify as the favorites!

Especially with the likes of Snow Miser and Heat Miser having at it all Christmas Cabaret-style (why the Evangelicals never went after these two like they did, Tinky Winky, the wee Purple Teletubby, I'll never know), or the Winter Warlock's revelatory song-and-dance number, "One Foot In Front Of The Other", also with the nasty Burgermeister Meisterburger lording over Sombertown denying toys to all the sad little tots!

Or, Rudolph, of course, with his dentistry obsessed pal, Herbie The Elf! Those were the favorites!

Nope, not for me. Drummer Boy. Hands down.

And here's why...

The Harry Simeone Chorale's devastatingly beautiful score to that particular animated classic brought me to tears every time I heard it. It certainly didn't hurt that I totally identified with that poor moppet of a kid having only his talent to offer as a gift to the New Boy King... it was a no-brainer.

I became so enamored with the The Little Drummer Boy's main theme song that I had my mother sing it to me in order to fall asleep at night, or while driving around in the car while looking at Christmas lights in my old home town, and, yes, even one day in 90 degree heat sitting outside of a bank in the middle of summer, "Mom! Sing me the drummer boy song!" And when she did my eyes glazed over like I had just been hooked up with some wickedly potent sedative.

I was simply in, well ... heaven.

Now at this juncture some might want to argue that I'm just another foolhardy shill, some idiot foot soldier, for the Christian Right's Brigade against the supposed "War On Christmas".

Not quite. If anything a spy in their House, maybe, as I wouldn't mind winning the fun back in Christmas from those moribund bastards.

First of all, let it be known, I am a total Recovering Catholic. Yeah, yeah, yeah the whole guilty Mary Mother of God thing in overdrive now settling to a lowered, less noisy drone. Currently that translates into 'God' and I fist fighting more often than actually caring to find peaceful common ground in acceptance of one another's existence.

The Christians, as a rule of thumb, would probably just assume write me off as a ... as a Democrat, I suppose. Please!

I used to know a kind and loving dude named Jesus Christ while growing up.


Sadly, the perversity of adulthood's more reality-based trials, and American politics in general, has all but drove a stake into those youthful and tender belief systems.

(BTW, thanks a lot, you self righteous deplorable toss-offs! Sometimes trying to cram doctrine down throats has an equal and opposite effect...go figure.)

Nah. Christmas music to me is merely an affable reverberation, a cordial echo, now making its rounds from a past manifesting itself in equal parts joyful and pleasant reminisces, and cynical and sinister revoking.

Case in point: When I used to host a radio show a number of years back at M.I.T.'s WMBR-FM community station my annual Holiday Music Show would get more than a few irate listeners calling in with the usual, "Yeah, my kids were listening to your holiday special when FEAR's "Fuck Christmas" came on ... do you really think that's necessary?"

Oh, but surely I did.

Making sense of what became of a formerly religious holiday now gone terribly commercial, and politically awry, was never more important to me and, arguably, the very mission of that particular show. I did warn my audience, in fact, it was an adult-themed special from the beginning. I was merely utilizing a formidable musical arsenal awash in as much sardonic wit I could find to get the message out to anyone listening in ... kids or no kids (perhaps, importantly, that they were ... except for the whole swearing thing).

Ho-Ho-Ho! Lumps of Rock-N-Coal anyone?

I digress.

So, let me reiterate - there are seemingly endless legions of Xmas Tune Obsessives out there like me scouring record store bins, listservs, peer-to-peer (P2P) networks and other obscure, cranberry-and-popcorn strung corners of the internet looking for the latest musical fiXmas offerings. I have found any number of websites specifically designed to humor this very pursuit that pretty much prove my theory. As far as I can tell most of these resources do not subscribe to any cause deus celebre either. It's purely for the warped fun of it all.

A reliable enough explanation as to why may still elude me for the rest of the initiated, but allow me one other speculation on my own behalf...

Yes, there was my mother's rumpa-bump-bumping all along the way, but I think what drives me to dig through all of this Christmas music rubble is, indeed, something more profound than a mere drummer boy and the beat of his humble drum.

I am no doubt searching for something.

Searching for something substantial that has a long time ago gone astray. Not entirely the absence of the Divine, but more of an absence of the Innocence left behind in childhood. The whole notion beaten to a sad cliche at this stage but resonant to me (and many others, I'm sure...) none-the-less.

Perhaps, too, found in that sickly-sweet marzipan-ed pile of compact discs, tucked away some place in this manger of fading vinyl LP records, or wrapped up some how in my tinselly tangle of now obsolete cassette tape, is a twinkly lit path leading back to some long abandoned Salvation.

Could it be through this one very eccentric obsession an Epiphany awaits?

One that may even lean towards finding a reason to Believe again?


(And now for your very special holiday treat just for making it all the way down to the bottom of this post ... Christmas music!! Did you really think I was going to let you off that easily?)

Below a personal favorite amongst all of the thousands of odd musical Christmas gems I've collected over the years! Originally discovered on 'The 365 Days Project' website - a service dedicated to turning out one rare (free!) song per day culminating in several eclectic holiday tracks around the month of December:

Song: "Merry Christmas, Elvis"

Singer: Michele Cody
Year: 1978
Album: The 365 Days Project

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your blog. Over a thousand Christmas! Kincade's jealous.