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Christmas Music

11/30/2008 04:00PM, Published by Super Admin, Categories: In Print




I  can handle stores breaking out Christmas decorations in September. I’m okay with the crass commercialism that permeates the season like the over-scented candles at a holiday craft fair. I don’t mind trading paint with other shoppers in the crowded Galleria parking lot on random weekends in December. But the one thing I cannot stand at this time of year, that sets my teeth on edge and drops me to my knees begging for mercy from the sweet manger-baby Himself is…Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmas Time.”

Don’t get me wrong. I like Paul McCartney. I absolutely appreciate his place in the pantheon of popular music. His work with the Beatles is unassailable, as is much of his solo work (“Say, Say, Say” excluded). But, as sure as even supermodels pass gas, music geniuses too, are capable of occasional noxiousness and sometimes you have to crack a window. Just hearing those first cloying synthesizer notes… “bow-ow-ow-ow…dow-ow-ow-ow-ow,” makes me want to shake my fist at a mall Santa and kick his elves in the shins. Why? Let’s take a look.  

The lyrics. “The moon is right, the spirits up, we’re here tonight and that’s enough, simply having a wonderful Christmas time.” Really? That’s the best you could do? You’re the guy who gave us, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make!” But these “Christmas” lyrics…they have all the depth of a wading pool. And notice, Sir Paul gets to the chorus so quickly, it’s as though he knew it was a dreadful plunge best taken as soon as possible.

The lack of passion. McCartney wanders through the vocals like he’s talking to someone who he’s not quite interested in. I picture him thumbing through a Lands’ End catalog while he was recording this.  

The melody. It’s catchy...kind of like pink eye. “Siiiimply…haaavving… awonderfulchristmastime,” is repeated over and over like there’s a terrible skip in the record. But there isn’t. He meant to do that to us. It worms its way into the living room of your brain, lays itself out on the couch and starts ordering movies.  

The frequency of play. When the Muzak at Arden Fair or Sunrise Mall switches over to all-Christmas on the day after Thanksgiving, the relentless onslaught begins. On soft rock radio stations around the country, “Wonderful Christmas Time” gets scheduled more often than commercials for the Shane Company. The disturbing fact is, it gets played a lot for a reason: there are those who walk among us who actually enjoy the song. I believe these are the same people who take an hour to back out of a space in a busy mall parking lot.  

In the nearly four minutes that this song is allowed to breathe, I can completely understand John Lennon’s issues with Paul.

For the record (no pun intended), I am not a Christmas music-hater. I love “The Christmas Song,” and “White Christmas.” I will hum, if not sing along to “Jingle Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman,” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” I think Martina Mcbride’s interpretation of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is among the most beautiful sounds ever offered to the human ear.  

And that ultimately is the point. There are thousands of other songs more worthy, more deserving of a spin than “A Wonderful Christmas Time” – including the “Jingle Cats,” the “Barking Dogs,” and “Grandma Got Run Over by Reindeer” (but just barely). And so I beg the Chai-tea-sipping program directors of soft rock stations and Muzak to please, in this season of mercy, have a little on us. Help make it a truly wonderful Christmas time and stop playing that song. And when “those people” call to complain that it isn’t being played? Be polite, but please suggest that perhaps the best thing they could do is to simply hang up and finish backing out of their parking stall.

Catch Tom on the Pat and Tom Morning Show on New Country 105.1.

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