Thursday, December 24, 2015

The last two tunes in the Xmas misery megamix

On the last day before Xmas, I wanted to add a final “footnote” to my Xmas misery megamix (go here for the full dose) with perhaps the most unusual items. There are only two of 'em because... hey, it's Xmas Eve when I'm posting this and you don't have a lotta time, do you?

First, a skronk-y Xmas carol that is an epic of discordance and irritation – you'll either love it or hate it (it's entirely possible you'll have both reactions). I have friends who rave about James Chance's music, and I can't help but think that's because they saw him live. Experiencing him through recordings is still a confrontation of a sort, but it also can be sorta tiring – although here I note that he's backed by women backup singers, who lend a tiny bit of on-key-ness to the proceedings (esp in the final repeated refrain, “Are you weepin' and waitin'/for Christmas with Satan?”).

The song is a ten-minute opus called “Christmas with Satan” and it contains not just Chance's meditation on meeting the Horned One on Xmas day, but also horn-driven "skronk" riffs on various familiar holiday staples, including “Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town,” “Winter Wonderland,” “White Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Raindeer,” and “Hava Nagila” (who knows?). This aspect of the song makes it a nice one-stop-shop for those who want to cover the usual Yuletide territory quickly and with irreverence.

Take the trip, the fare is cheap.

And the piece de resistance (thanks to friend Rich Brown for this!) has to be Willie Tyler and Lester's sad little December ditty – it's less an Xmas song than an end-of-year song about going home and seeing the family.

It's a somber affair, but the best part is that Willie didn't forget his little wooden pal (who he's been touring with for something like five decades!) – Lester duets with him on the tune and even gets a little Stylistics-like trill (around the 1:23 mark). I can think of no better way to seal off my “Xmas misery megamix” for 2015 than by giving you this song that I believe Willie wrote himself.

The more I watch this video the more I love Lester's hat and the way his tiny little wooden hands move to accentuate lines in the song.

The "Xmas misery megamix" can be found here. Happy Holidays to all

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