Archive | December, 2011

12 Plays of Christmas – Day 12 – Jesus Christ by Teenage Fanclub

25 Dec

You can only really play this song on 25 December ‘cos of the giveaway line “Jesus Christ was born today” (yes, I know the experts reckon Jesus actually arrived  in the summer…).

Anyway, I nearly wet myself with joy when this  Big Star cover appeared on the b-side to Ain’t That Enough in 1997, TFC being one of my fave bands at the time, and still.

Merry Christmas!

12 Plays of Christmas – Day 11 – Gift X-Change by Calexico

24 Dec

 

This IS my favourie Christmas song of all time, and I’m not quite sure why.  Probably because of the unfolding lyrics which manage to wring out hope in a desparate personal situation (“As your climbing the walls/There’s no answer at all/Except the gift you give yourself”) plus the moving, understated musicianship.

Also, taken from the It’s A Cool Cool Christmas compilation, it’s one of Tucson, Arizona band Calexico’s best ever moments.

Calexico

12 Plays of Christmas – Day 10 – Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas by Eels

23 Dec

This is one of my favourite Christmas tunes of all time – particularly at the point while Mark E Everett breaks it down and exclaims: “Baby Jesus, born to rock!”

It’s about positivity in the face of adversity, something Everitt, who’s  had his helping of family tragedies, knows more about than most.

Originally recorded as a b-side in 1998,  it also appeared on the quality alternative XFM charity compilation It’s A Cool Cool Christmas…more of which tomorrow.

12 Plays of Christmas – Day 9 – On To Bethlehem by Bill Mallonee

22 Dec

Bill Mallonee is a vastly under-rated US  songwriter who notches up new albums at a prolific rate. While leader of Americana band Vigilantes Of Love  – who shared their Athens hometown with REM – he wrote On To Bethlehem, a heart-breaker of a song about broken dreams redeemed by divine frailty in the incarnation:

“God wraps Himself up in human skin for those who want to touch/And God let them drive the nails in for those of us who know too much.”

The song appears on Mallonee’s 2005  Christmas collection ‘Yonder Shines The Infant Light’ – track 8 below.

12 Days of Christmas – Day 8 – Skating by Vince Guaraldi

21 Dec

Vince Guaradi’s playful soundtrack to CBS’s 1965 Charlie Brown Christmas special is one of the most popular Yuletide albums of all time according to music legend (ie Wikipedia).

I didn’t get my hands on it until last year but love its carefree feel which veers from school-choir singalongs to spritely jazz workouts like Christmas Is Coming or today’s two-and-a- half minute track Skating.

Although Guaraldi died in 1976 aged 47, his music, and tremendous tash, live on…

12 Plays of Christmas – Day 7 – Get Behind Me Santa by Sufjan Stevens

20 Dec

 

Sufjan Stevens’ box set – Songs for Christmas – is a colourful, sprawling mix of over 40 seasonal songs recorded as giveaway EPs for the singer’s friends and family between 2001 and 2006.

It was a toss up between Get Behind Me, Santa and the beautiful banjo-led version of the 15th century German carol Lo! How A Rose E’er Blooming for today’s track.

But the Sufjan original – which plays out a humorous row between a ‘Christmas Curmudgeon’ and Santa (“I’m just another regular guy with superpowers and a penchant for the yule tide”) – pipped it.

Smile Sufjan!

12 Plays of Christmas – Day 6 – Angel of Harlem by U2

19 Dec

 

Ok, so it’s not strictly a festive song but it did come out as a single in December 1988, featuring the opening lines:

It was a cold and wet December day
When we touched the ground at JFK
Snow was melting on the ground
On BLS I heard the sound
Of an angel

New York, like a Christmas tree
Tonight this city belongs to me
Angel

There’s something about ‘Angel of Harlem’ that always reminds me of Christmas and, although I may be  in the minority, it’s one of my favourite U2 songs.  Enjoy!

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