Christmas Muzak

by ANDREW HICKS

Every year around Thanksgiving, the musical floodgates open and heap steaming piles of reindeer dung on our listening ears. Anyone can drop a Christmas album at any time. Rick Springfield and the Captain and Tennille both released Christmas albums in 2007. Not 1982. Two thousand and freaking seven! And Toby Keith has a double-disc Christmas album! And I’ve heard it – the entire second disc is nothing but up-tempo boot-stomping songs about how Santa Claus doesn’t bring presents to towel-headed boys and girls.

Despite the flood of product, there’s really just a handful of Christmas songs, and there’s only so much you can do with the lyrics. Take: “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” Now there’s an observant soul who’s been to a shopping mall sometime since September. Nice work, poetic lyricist.

Or: “I’ll be home for Christmas… if only in my dreams.” Try using that one the next time your grandma invites you to that three-hour Christmas worship service at her Pentecostal church all the way across town. “Mom, thank you, I can’t wait, and I will definitely be there… if only in my dreams.”

That logic can be applied with very broad strokes. Maybe I’ll be a multi-billionaire with magic powers and a set of blond 19-year-old twins for Christmas… if only in my dreams.

Or how about: “You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Blitzen.” I’ve never met any of these people. I met a black woman named Velveeta once, but I’ve never met anybody named Blitzen. “Comet and Cupid and Donner and Vixen.” Never met ’em. They’re definitely not in my phone book.

“But do you recall? The most famous reindeer of all?” Dude, you just rattled off all the obscure reindeer names, already assuming I’ve had beers and shot 18 holes of golf with each of them. Now you’re asking me if I’ve ever heard of the most famous reindeer?

It’s like, you know Kajagoogoo and Falco and Reflex and The Vapors and GTR and Stacey Q and Asia… but have you ever heard of Madonna?

Yes, I know who Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is. He’s that weird kid whose nose provides enough illumination to pilot a sleigh containing the entire world’s Christmas presents. I wouldn’t want to play reindeer games with that kid either. How can you work your Four Square A-game when there’s a blinding, 12,000-watt red light coming off the opposition’s nose?

When you think about the way they treated freaky little Rudolph – and the fact that Santa allowed it to go on for so long – you get the feeling that, when they finally did ask him for help, Rudolph probably would have been like, “Yeah, Santa, I’ll guide your sleigh tonight…”

They’d have to bring Brokaw out of retirement to cover the carnage: “Tragedy today, as Santa Claus, eight tiny reindeer and a crap-ton of handmade merchandise plowed directly into an Egyptian pyramid. ‘Strange,’ commented one eyewitness, ‘there was plenty of glowing red light. I’m surprised they didn’t see where they were going.'”

One Christmas song I can absolutely, positively endorse this year is Neil Diamond’s version of “Silver Bells.” I thought I got lucky enough when Robert Goulet’s take on “Silver Bells” randomly graced the Muzak at work, but as far as overblown Will Ferrell characters go, Neil Diamond owns the song “Silver Bells.” There’s a little spoken word interlude and everything, where Neil intones, “I remember the silver bells of my youth.” Bragger. I can’t remember any silver bells before the age of 20.

Neil Diamond and Rudolph and the Captain and Tennille and I all wish you a joyful Christmas and a Happy New Year. To all a good night!

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