‘Rebel’ Rod’s Ramblings, Reviews, & Revelations – “Come On Baby, Jingle Those Bells” & other fun Holiday tunes
I try. I really do! I really try to get into the spirit of things this time of year.
This year I have tried to literally force myself into submission to the ideals of the Holiday. I thought I could get into the spirit of the season by giving of myself. Unfortunately, not even this simple act of selflessness could bring me out of my traditional holiday funk. The black cloud continued to loom just over head. It appeared there was no end in sight. I would just need to weather this storm of holiday happiness!
Then it occurred to me, the one thing that has always been able to put a smile on my face has been music. Perhaps a search for some fun seasonal music, the very music that saturates the airwaves this time of year could help. I made it my personal objective to find the funkiest, the most obscure (when possible), yet enjoyable Christmas music known to man. Here are the results of my hunt in part.
Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks’ “Crazy For Christmas” album? Really? I was a little more than surprised at this one. Not that it’s good, but that Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks recorded one in the first place. There is not a bad tune on that record and it is all done with Dan Hicks’ special blend of psychedelic jazzy funkiness you would expect, but with
all the warm fuzzy feelings one would hope to receive from a “Christmas”
album. This record is definitely a must have, even if you are not a fan of this genre; which I could not even begin to fathom. My personal favorite on this record are many but the one I enjoyed the most would probably be“Christmas Mornin'”.
Bob Dylan received a lot of flack for his Christmas album released last year, but I have to say, I found it to be surprisingly good. I have to admit, when I heard he had done one, my eyebrows went way up and over my forehead, just like you would see on a cartoon character, but I love his rendition of the Christmas classic “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”. It’s all Dylan yet it stays true to the original in just about every way adding an element of magic that lingers though out, not just this song, but the entire record. That being said, I still see this record on many a Scrooge’s most hated list. “Bah Humbug!” I guess you can’t please everyone. Right?
I also discovered a band called the Superions doing a song called “Jingle Those Bells”. By the end of the tune I realized that they were not singing about bells at all. This tune is a humorously sensual composite on a couple Christmas songs. “Come on Baby, Jingle Those Bells, Santa Claus is comin’”. See what I mean? And that’s just one small part of the song. By the end of the song, you could expect to be “hotter than a Georgia asphalt” as Lula said to Sailor in David Lynch’s wildly enjoyable “Wild At Heart”.
Another one of my favorites and certainly much more on the traditional side of things, is Louis Armstrong’s “Zat You Santa Claus?”. Of course, his gruff, yet velvety smooth voice takes this particular song over the top. When you throw in his exquisitely played trumpet into the mix, you have probably one of the coolest Holiday songs ever recorded.
The Ventures “Feliz Navidad” adds the element of being on a Southern California beach for Christmas flavor to it. If you like The Ventures and you like surf tunes, and you like Christmas music, you are sure to love this one even if it does seem to get a little monotonous by the time it ends.
When Duke Ellington jazzes up the classic Christmas tune “Jingle Bells”, don’t be surprised when you find yourself up on your feet, jitterbugging all through the not so quiet as a mouse house! Who knew one of the already most fun seasonal tunes around could be even more fun that in already was. Then again, Mr. Ellington could turn garbage into treasure if we asked him too.
Lionel Hampton’s “Merry Christmas Baby” presents us with the happy blues. This has got to be one of the most uplifting jazz/blues songs written about Christmas. What the heck though, it is Christmas and only a true Scrooge would want to hear a miserable Christmas tune. Fear not though, this song keeps that bluesy feel intact through out this wonderfully performed tune. One last thing; is there a more appropriate musical instrument than the xylophone to represent the holiday season?
I could literally write a complete tome on Holiday or Christmas tunes but I’ll save us all a lot of time and space and stop right here for now. However, you will want to check these songs out and more. Once you get started on your own personal search for festive tunes you will be amazed at the treasures you will find on your journey.
I feel better now. The holiday blues have evaporated into thin air, magically disintegrated by the melodies of many great songs recorded especially to help us escape from the gloomy prisons we sometimes build for ourselves.
Peace, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, whatever floats your boat, just be sure to stay safe, and please, keep listening to the music!