Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.
My kids wanted to hear nothing but Christmas music since the day after Halloween. They didn't have to wait long before the mellifluous warblings of Burl Ives and Karen Carpenter were played 24-7 on the radio.
But I've noticed, as I'm sure that you have, some of these "Christmas" songs have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. I mean, nothing.
I'm pretty sure you'll all be with me that the classification of "Christmas songs" has been a bit.....uhm, liberally assigned to songs that don't have anything to do with Christmas. I mean, at all. I'm not even being nit-picky. I'll even allow that Frosty and Rudolph and Santa are affiliated with Christmas. They're not in any actual real way. But I'm just showing you how open-minded I am and that's what makes my outrage over the inclusion of the following songs into the Christmas canon a bit more valid.
In no particular order (and this list is by no means exhaustive) here are some of the "Christmas" songs that have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas:
1) Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg - Now, to be clear from the start, the song mentions that it's Christmas Eve but there's nothing actually related to Christmas going on here. It might as well have been Arbor Day.
OK. Here we have a song about a rock star who's out roaming around a grocery store at some odd hour (probably looking for booze) and he happens upon an old girlfriend. She doesn't recognize him at first glance which probably ticks him off because he's a big time famous rock star and she's the high school girl he dumped. When she recognizes him, she drops her purse causing them to laugh until they cried which probably means they're both drunk as heck already. So what do they decide to do? They hop in their cars, drive around and can't find an open bar and decide just to sit in the car and drink themselves happy and maybe forget how miserable they both are.
They toast to their innocence which is kind of ironic as they're sitting in a car drinking and likely contemplating adultery and they soon realize that they're so drunk they can't figure out what to say to each other so she starts kvetching about her marriage and he says how much he hates touring because you know the life of a rock star is just sooooooooo unbearable.
And you just know that all the great Christmas songs are really about rock stars complaining in the frozen foods aisle.
Anyway, after all the beers are gone he allows this past flame who just drank her face off and is so completely emotionally unstable that she was laughing and crying over spilling her purse to hop into her car and drive away probably to run someone over.
And that's a Christmas song?
2) Jingle Bells - Jingle Bells is one of the most famous Christmas songs in the world but unfortunately it actually has nothing to do with Christmas. It was written by James Lord Pierpont and published under the title "One Horse Open Sleigh" in 1857 about Thanksgiving. Yup. Thanksgiving. And the definition of Thanksgiving is "a holiday that has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas." But nobody wants to hear a Thanksgiving song so it's now a Christmas song.
The dude who wrote it has "Lord" in his name but that's about as close as the song gets anywhere near God.
Everyone knows the first verse but not many know the second verse which seems to be about...well you be the judge what it's about.
A day or two ago
I thought I'd take a ride
And soon, Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side,
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot.
So he got Miss Fanny Bright to get in the sleigh with him, he went a little fast (if you know what I mean) and crashed into a ditch. That's the 1850's version of "I ran out of gas" I guess. And now they're getting all upsotty!
And then the fourth verse consists of some dude sleighing by and laughing at the idiot who crashed his sleigh and then driving off. Nice.
This is like the opposite of a Christmas song.
3) Jingle Bell Rock -Adding the word "rock" to a Thanksgiving song doesn't really make it more Christmasy does it? In fact, it might make it less.
4) Sleigh Ride - The amazing thing about this song being included in the Christmas canon is that this song pretty much specifically states that it's not a Christmas song. It's a birthday song.
The lyrics make it plain and clear that they're heading to "a birthday party at the home of Farmer Gray." But there's no market for birthday songs so it too got crammed down out throat as a Christmas song. I, for one, won't be celebrating Farmer Gray's birthday come December 25th.
5) Winter Wonderland - It's a song written by a guy with tuberculosis sitting in a sanitarium writing about a snowy day. That's it. A snowy day. Hey, when I think of Christmas I'm thinking of garland, manger scenes, and the harsh phlegmy sounds of a tuberculosis victim, amiright?
6) Baby It's Cold Outside - You knew this one would be on the list. I have zero clue how this song worked its way into Christmas airplay. Just to give you some idea, it's a duet about a girl who keeps insisting she must go home while the guy uses every excuse to keep her there saying that it's cold outside so she should really stay. The female voice in the song is called "The Mouse" and the male "The Wolf." I mean, this song is about one step short of the guy slipping a roofie into her drink. Definitively not a Christmas song.
7) My Favorite Things - This one is a recent inclusion. It's like dj's got bored with Bing and Nat King Cole and just picked a song out of a hat to include as a Christmas song. You know the song. It's a list of favorite thing like brown paper packages tied up with strings, doorbells, schnitzel with noodle and pretty much every other thing in the world. You know what didn't make the list though? Baby Jesus, that's who!
I know, I know. Maybe the Savior just didn't make the cut. Maybe Baby Jesus was right after snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes. But definitely not a Christmas song. if Schnitzel with noodles day gets made a federal holiday I'd expect this song. But until then let's ignore it, ok?
8) Let it Snow - Oh the weather outside if frightful but the fire's so delightful. Yup. Pretty much the same thing is going on here as in "Baby it's Cold Outside" but at least here it seems mutual and the police won't need to get involved. But while a lack of necessary jail time is a plus there's nothing real Christmasy going on here.
I could go on but I'm feeling a little upsot.