How are you holding up?
Muttering, are you, about Christmas hype and all the greed, hypocrites, brainwashing, religious fanaticism and "jolly Saint Nick" bullshit? Has the season made you more painfully cynical about there ever being "peace on earth?"
Music makes it worse: you're assaulted by commercials re-writing "Jingle Bells" and "Deck the Halls" to sell everything from toilet paper to the Daily Mail. Narcolepsy-inducing soft Christmas ballads alternate with brain-exploding novelty numbers to keep you permanently in a bad mood.
The number of rotten Christmas songs outnumber the tolerable by 15 to 1. One good one, like "Good King Wenceslas," is easily dwarfed by 15 horrible ones:
1. Jingle Bells. STUFF THEM UP YOUR ASS. The most over-used and irritatingly cheerful holiday song of all.
2. All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth. Sing it again, brat, and you'll need dentures. (Runner-up "Nuttin' Fer Christmas")
3. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Insincere, obnoxious, condescending, and as icky as figgy pudding.
4. We Wish You A Merry Christmas. SHUT THE FUCK UP.
5. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. DIE. And take "Frosty the Snowman" with you.
6. Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. It wasn't even funny the first time.
7. Here Comes Santa Claus. The aural equivalent to bukkake.
8. Santa Claus is Coming to Town. It makes me re-think my opposition to someone owning an AK-47. GET HIM!
9. Sleigh-Ride. Close to "Jingle Bells" as one of the most irritating melodies ever written. It's always sung breathlessly: "it's-lovely-weather-for-a-sleigh-ride-together..." Makes you think "slay." Ring-ting-alingly terrible.
10. White Christmas. FUCK YOU, BING. And everyone else who sings this, except a black vocalist, because that makes it funny.
11. Feliz Navidad (lo siento, pero chinga tu madre).
12. 12 Days of Christmas - just sadistic and monotonous. And please, to all reporters who think it's clever to write up "how much these gifts would cost," please STOP. Nobody's actually going to buy geese a'laying or hire pipers to pipe...so just go on a 12 day drunk and lie in the gutter till Christmas blows over.
13. Deck the Halls - used in too many radio and TV commercials. Go "Fa-la-la yourself."
14. Let It Snow - redundant lyrics, preeningly sung. It also has crappy rhymes that are "frightful" not "Delightful"
15. The Little Drummer Boy. (bang, POW, to the MOON, you little shit.)
Another 50 aggravating Christmas tunes could be listed here.
On the other side? "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "Joy to the World," "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," and "Silent Night." Despite it's rude title, "Come All Ye Faithful" is a good one as well.
So why choose "Good King Wenceslas?" Because, like "Jerusalem," it was a song I heard all my life and never really paid much attention to. Unlike "Jerusalem," when I finally did sit down and try and make sense of the lyrics…I found that they were good. To put it simply, Good King Wenceslas was good! The guy was not only concerned with the poor, he even made sure his "noble page" didn't do all the work for him! The King was a true leader, walking in the snow, clearing a path for his page to follow. Damn nice, this Senor Wences. Dee-feecult for most leaders, but easy for him! Cut him an extra order of slaw.
A HALF-DOZEN versions of GOOD KING WENCESLAS, covering a wide range of styles…from traditional folk (Irish Rovers), to faux-Beatles, to Stan Kenton, The Muppet Brass, and the traditional Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Oh yes, and the lovely Ms. McKennitt.
And now a word about the lovely Jane Seymour, who is half-Jewish (on her father's side). Her book "Good King Wenceslas" (with illustrations by Omar Rayyan) gives you an annotated version of the story, and she reads the lyrics on the bonus DVD which includes the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. When I met Jane some months ago, I assumed she was promoting an autobiography, or maybe a new film. I was surprised and delighted that she, like me, was a fan of The 'Slas. I mentioned that I had collected about 30 versions of the song, and would send her a CD of the mp3 files. She signed a promo poster of the book cover for me, in gold ink.
At its best, a Christmas song can reinforce the spirit of caring…and of real sharing. Sadly, if the Good King was around today, his website would be hacked, anarchists and religious fanatics would be plotting his assassination, and a paparazzi camera would be hidden hoping to get a nude picture of the Queen. He'd probably be shocked to find out there are "Christian" bloggers who routinely give away dozens and dozens of in-print and easily buyable Christmas albums. He'd wonder how "Christians" could be Scrooges who coldly steal Christmas music and don't care how miserable the holiday is for thousands of people formerly in the music biz and now out of work, and thousands more having to take low-wage jobs they hate because "music must be free" assholes took away the work they loved.
Jane Seymour's combo book/DVD would make a nice gift; it's beautiful, with great illustrations, and that beats a cold Kindle any day. The six downloads of the song should help you get to know The King, and are brought to you by a blogger who, as December 25th approaches, identifies more and more as neither Christian or Jew, but 100% tree-loving Druid. In other words, don't go hacking a living pine or fir in the forest, you stupid prick. I'm axing you nicely!