Friday, December 25, 2009

Essential X-mas Music The Rest

Apologies for phoning it in, I just go so busy. Here's the last 8 tracks for the essential x-mas music mix. I hope it brightens your holiday season.

18. Blue Christmas- Elvis Presley
19. Run, Run, Rudolph- Chuck Berry
20. It's Christmas All Over Again- Tom Petty
21. Swiss Colony Beef Log- Eric Cartmen
22. Linus and Lucy- Vince Guaraldi
23. Christmas- The Who
24. Santa Baby- Madonna
25. Christmas Time In Hell- Satan (from the South Park x-mas)

Happy holidays to all. I hope you enjoyed this little list, despite my flaking on it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Essential X-mas Music Track 17

"Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" by The Pretenders

In the interest of full disclosure: this is actually my second favorite version of this song. I include it over my favorite because it will be easier to put on a cd (for those of you actually making a Ryan McGillen Essential Christmas Music Mix)

My favorite version is this one. It's been mentioned previously in this blog.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Essential X-mas Music Track 16

"I Won't Be Home For Christmas" by Blink 182.

A funny thing occurred to me the other day. I remember in high school/early college there was a trend of "punks" in my scene (as I'm sure there was in yours) would criticize Blink 182. "Sellout!" they would cry because they had gotten popular to the point where they had to play larger venues in order to service their audience. Most of these people loved pop punk bands like Screeching Weasel and The Descendants (both bands that heavily influenced Blink) but claimed to hate Blink.

Cut to those same people in 2009. Most of them are 25-30 years old. Lots of things have changed. Including the fact that they are now comfortable enough to admit they like Blink. Everyone likes Blink. Everyone. (no need to comment just to tell me you don't, i know it's a broad generalization).

Anyhow, hearing this song always makes me think of my first band ever, Kindergarden Diplomacy. The band included John McCabe, Leann Banks, Kevin Branoff, and myself. We'd play the silly songs that I wrote about a girl I worked with at Meijer who had a mullet or having carnal relations with farm animals. We would have band practice at John's house, using his other bands (much nicer) equipment. Afterwards, they would come and practice and since the holidays were approaching, they would cover this song.

Simpler times, those were.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Essential X-mas Music Track 15

"The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth" by Bing Crosby and David Bowie

You learn something new every day.

We all know the tale of the retooling of this song because Bowie did not believe that his part was right for his voice. It's been told to death.

But today, I learned that one month after recording this song with Bowie, Bing Crosby died of a heart attack. That's my pop culture nugget for today. I'm sure it'll pop up in some improv show I do somewhere down the line. They all do.

Essential X-mas Music Track 14

"Happy X-mas (War Is Over)" by John Lennon.

I don't have to tell you that John Lennon is a genius. I don't have to tell you that this song, originally intended to be a protest song for the Vietnam War, is now a staple of any non-crazy person's holiday playlist.

You knew all of that.

Unfortunately, that's all there is to this song. It's simply amazing.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Essential X-mas Music Tracks 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13

So I'm cheating because I fell behind. Things got busy for me at work and at life and I simply had no spare time to do this. I'm giving you 4 songs that I didn't really have a whole lot to say about in list format. Two of them are the promised repeats from earlier entries.

#9 All I Want For Christmas Is You - My Chemical Romance

#10 Jingle Bell Rock - Hall and Oates

#11 Christmas Time in Hollis Queens - Run DMC

#12 Santa Baby - Cynthia Basinet (Thanks to WTD Records for the correction)

#13 Little Saint Nick - The Beach Boys

Sorry to not go the extra mile on this one. I'll try to keep up for the rest of the season

Thursday, December 10, 2009

According to the ingredients on the container, somewhere in the world there is pudding that just grows out of the earth.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Essential X-mas Music Track 8

"Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)" by The Darkness

This song has absolutely everything that says "Christmas Song" to me. Bell tolls, sleigh bells, a childrens choir, ripping glam metal guitars, and a glorious falsetto singer.

I remember when my friend Mike first introduced me to The Darkness. He showed me the video for their big hit "I Believe In A Thing Called Love". I chuckled at the band, firing lasers from their guitars at space octopi, shredding through 80's metal guitar solos, and wearing spandex cat suits. At the end of the video, Mike turned to me and said "The best part is, these dudes are totally serious. It seems like they are being ironic, but they are totally serious about the music they play."


I know I've been a little video happy on the blog these past few days, but whatever. I would like you to just get an idea how good this song is, since it's one of the one's you might not have heard. Also, you can get an idea of how glorious The Darkness truly is. Big ups to the guitar solo that I like to call, Two Guys One Guitar.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Essential X-mas Music Track 7

"All I Want For Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey

Judge all you want. It might be one of the best pop songs of the last 20 years.

When Kristen and I were first dating, she made me watch "Love, Actually". I didn't care for it. I debated with her about the superficiality of a marriage between two characters who didn't speak each others language (if you've never spoken to someone, your entire affection is based on their looks. What if that person turns out to be a Klan member or something?) But there is one thing that makes the movie tolerable.

That one thing is the performance, by a group of Jr. High tweens at the end of this song. It's so good. Worth sitting through the whole two hours.

Heads Up: This song will appear on this list again!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Essential X-mas Music Track 6

"Feliz Navidad" by Jose Feliciano.

I first heard this song being played while Big Bird and a young girl figure skate in the Sesame Street Christmas special "Christmas Eve of Sesame Street". If you haven't seen it, I recommend checking it out. It's on youtube.

The other memory that sticks out from the special was the storyline of Bert and Ernie (which is actually an old story). Neither Bert nor Ernie have the money to buy gifts for each other this year (because neither one has jobs, because they are apparently 12-14 year old kids who live together). So Bert sells his paper clip collection in order to get Ernie a soap dish for Rubber Ducky. Of course, what Bert doesn't know is that Ernie sold Rubber Ducky to get a cigar box (?) for Bert's paper clip collection. With both of them dismayed, the now deceased Mr. Hooper, touched by the boys Christmas spirit, shows up to return both boys possessions to them. Then this heartwarming scene occurs. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Essential X-mas Music Track 5

"Christmas Vacation" by Mavis Maples.

I'm not a big laugh out loud alone type person. Normally, if I'm with a whole group of people, and something is funny, I laugh harder that when I'm alone or even with Kristen.

This weekend, while lazing around watching TV, I came across National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Those who know me know that this is my favorite Christmas movie of all time. It's also one of the few movies that, even though I've seen it a trillion times, I still will laugh out loud at. I couldn't even pick a favorite line in that movie if I had to. But the best character in the movie is Aunt Bethany. I never knew that the actress (Mae Questel) was also the voice of Betty Boop. Here's a montage for you.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Essential X-mas Music Track 4

"Please Come Home For Christmas" was originally written by Charles Brown. It's been covered by about a million people. The Eagles, Willie Nelson,and Jon Bon Jovi (and a few others) actually charted with their covers. I listened to a couple of versions of this song to pick my favorite. I finally settled on Aaron Neville's version because I like the added brass section. I'm pretty sure this is also the version used in Home Alone.

I'm glad to say that I've never had to spend a Christmas away from home. I missed Thanksgiving the first year that I lived in Chicago because I was working at Rainforest Cafe and that's apparently the busiest night of the year. I didn't even get off in time to go to Aunt Peggy's house, which I understand was a blessing in disguise because Uncle Tim and his brood were all there, suffering from some sort of plague. I would have liked to be with my family, eating piles of stuffing and home baked rolls. Never again though. Even if I have to fly home Christmas eve and return on the 26th, I'll never miss another Christmas or Thanksgiving if I can help it.

Also, props to Aaron Neville for not getting whatever that is on his eyebrow taken care of. Not like he has millions of dollars or anything.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Essential Christmas Music- Track 3

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause" is a really strange song. It's even odder when it's performed by the Jackson 5. See if you can follow me here.

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause" is widely accepted as a wholesome Christmas song. It's sang sweetly by child pop stars and apple cheeked children the world over. But this is not a wholesome song.

This is a song about a young child witnessing his mother in the arms of another man. A child, who's innocence gets lost and is forced to grow up real quick. "Do I do the right thing and tell my dad, thereby destroying my parents marriage and forcing me to grow up a child of divorce or do I keep this secret forever, knowing that every Christmas eve, my mom will be cheating on my dad."

Now let's look at this song applying what we know about the Jackson family. There is no winner in this tale. Throughout the song, Michael is insisting that he caught his mother kissing Santa Clause. He didn't seem to have much trouble making his decision. In the middle of the song Michael says "I really did see mommy kissing Santa Clause and I'm going to tell my dad." Just so we're clear, he's going to tell this man.

We all know about Joe Jackson's legendary temper and his abusive relationship with his children. Is there any reason not to assume that when he learns of Catherine's infidelity he's not going to beat the ever loving crap out of her. I think not. I mean, look at him. Or on the flip side, let's say Joe confronts Catherine and, stoic as always, she tells him that Michael was probably just dreaming or something. Joe, enraged that his child would lie to him about something so serious, beats Michael within an inch of his life.

This is a really tragic song. Way more than "Christmas Shoes" (that will be the only time that song is mentioned in this list).

On a complete sidenote, the song ends with Michael continuing to insist to his brothers about what they saw. The rest of the brothers are mad because he's keeping them awake with his story. And then we hear one of the brothers yell "Germaine, you're taking all the covers! My toes are cold!" 5 brothers, ranging in age from roughly 8 to 17 are all sharing a bed?!? Weird. Besides, the Jackson family had buckets of money once they exploited their children. No way they are all in one bed.

As I was saying yesterday about Santa Clause is Coming to Town, this will not be the Jackson's only appearance on this list. They'll be back.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Does Boxing still exist as a sport?

I have a lot of great memories revolving around boxing. When I was a kid, the Easter Bunny brought me and my brother boxing gloves one year. My dad took this as an opportunity to pit my brother and I against each other in boxing matches. I recall a time when I actually bloodied my brother's nose. We would also take some pretty dramatic dives when we wanted to go play Sega.

We also used to go to Fight Night at the Palace of Auburn Hills once every couple of months. The place would be absolutely packed with dudes in hilariously tasteless pimp suits. It was an absolutely blast.

Then there were the pay per view parties (alliteration FTW) where we would go to Tony Peter's house to watch George Foreman come out of retirement and fight Evander "Real Deal" Hollifield. Just as much of a blast. Not as many pimps.

So I'm just wondering, is there boxing anymore on the level that there used to be with Foreman and Hollifield and Tyson or has boxing be completely replaced by Mixed Martial Arts and UFC. Cause really, ugh.

Boxing is the sweet science. UFC, on the other hand, is a breeding ground for rapists and murders. No offense. (I realize the incongruence of saying UFC is for rapists when Mike Tyson, one of the most famous boxers in history, not only raped a girl, but also ate a man's ear.)

Essential Christmas Music- Track 2

My dear friend Joey feels roughly the same way I do about Christmas music. I think it comes with working or having worked in retail. It's all you hear from 2 months.

One night we got to talking about Christmas music and I brought up Bruce Springsteen's rendition of "Santa Clause is Coming to Town". Joey's response to me was "Generally, I'm pretty indifferent to Christmas and not much of a fan of Christmas music, but if I'm flipping through the radio, the first time I catch that song, I get really into Christmas and it usually sticks with me through the season."

So that's track 2. As a sneak preview of things to come, this is one of 2 songs that will appear on this list again.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Essential X-mas song #1

Most people who know me know that I don't especially like Christmas music. For awhile, I had the same stance on Christmas music that I had on country. "I hate it all." But just like country offering Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, there are exceptions. Amazingly, there are approximately 25 Christmas songs I legitimately love. Everyday, from now until Christmas, I'm going to reveal another one. That way on Christmas, loyal reader, you'll have yourself a nice Christmas mix to play while you eat your goose and roast chestnuts.

Track #1

"Fairytale of New York" by the Pogues. There are some who would argue that this is not a Christmas song. But considering it all takes place in the 24 period between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I think it counts. Besides, the word "Christmas" is used a ton of times.

"Fairytale of New York" is a song about a drunk man reminiscing about past Christmases while sleeping off a bender in the NYPD "drunk tank". The rest of the song is sort of a call and response between the narrator and an old love (Kristie MacColl) about their relationship (destroyed by booze) and the Christmas Eve they spent in New York. It's hard to tell if the characters are pining for what they once had or if they are in the middle of a fight. They are both pretty brutal to each other at time. "You're a bum, you're a punk, you're an old slut on junk" "You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot. Happy Christmas, you arse, I pray God it's our last." But I like to look at this as the drunken Irish version of playful ribbing with someone you love. For all it's heartbreak, I find this song incredibly romantic.