Christmas Shoes! (Holiday 2009 Music Mix!)

Most hectic December evar! Sorry for this arriving so late, but Lordy I barely got this year’s Christmas Mix out in my holiday cards on Wednesday, so I’m just happy to have this ready now.

This year’s mix is a little louder and rock-ish, but still SFW (except for that one song with an “arse” in it…). As I’m posting by iPhone I’ll be brief here…and NO track list just yet… But Merry Christmas fromme to all of you!

I’ll be more verbose later. For now enjoy…

Christmas Shoes (Christmas 2009 Mix)

Right click and “save as” to download me!

Yay! 5

Thanks Chris, can’t wait to give it a listen.

I was beginning to worry! Can’t wait to take a listen.

Dude! I depend on you for these as stocking stuffers. I was getting worried.

Can’t wait. Thanks so much for doing this every year, it makes the drive go faster.

Christmas Shoes!

Guess I should post a tracklist, eh?

  1. The Nap After Christmas, and Peggy Hill captures the spirit of the season.
  2. “Christmas Rhapsody” The Pledge Drive
  3. “Back In Town” Wiretree
  4. “Hit The Snow” The Aislers Set
  5. “Winter Wonderland” Phantom Planet
  6. “Joseph Who Understood” The New Pornographers
  7. “It’s Christmas (But I Don’t Care)” Brad Laner
  8. “Christmas Bring Us” The Gripweeds
  9. “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” Dean Martin
    10.“Hark The Herald” The Fab Four
    11.“Jangle Bells” Love Tractor
    12.“3 Ghosts (A Modern Christmas Carol)” The Boss Martians
    13.“I Don’t Intend To Spend Christmas Without You” Margo Guryan
    14.“White Christmas” Frank Sinatra
    15.“Christmastime Is Here Again” The Flirtations
    16.“Sleigh Ride” The Ventures
    17.“Run Rudolph” Dave Edmunds
    18.“Merry Christmas Baby” Otis Redding
    19.“Christmas (I Remember)” The Smithereens
    20.“Winter Must Be Cold” The Apples In Stereo
    21.“Christmas Blues No. 2” American Suitcase
    22.“The Christmas Sound” The Swimmers
    23.“The Blizzard” Camera Obscura
  10. Those dadgum boys of the NYPD Choir continue to make with the “Galway Bay” even as the bells of Christmas Day attempt to drown them out. Merry Christmas!

[i]The Pledge Drive is actually one of many noms de rock that an amazingly talented fellow named Tim Walters goes by; I met him because he and I are both on the Loud Family Email list-serve. Every year one of Tim’s bands puts out a Christmas song. Most years, he plays it pretty straight; in 2005, he didn’t. I’ve been holding onto this song, not sure if it was too long or if it worked, but what the hey. I like it.

The New Pornographers tune is maybe the only Christmas song I know that considers the plight of poor Joseph. You can just imagine him coming home from work one day, exhausted from a long day of carpentry, and his fiancee tells him “Joe, I’m pregnant. Obviously, since I won’t let you touch me, you’re not the father. God is. No, really. And I’m still a virgin. By the way, the kid is going to be the Son of God. Oh, and we’re gonna need to walk across the country. Well, you’ll walk–I’m riding the donkey. Hope that works for you.”

Brad Laner was the guitarist/singer/songwriter in the best My Bloody Valentine soundalike band ever, a group called Medicine. He also was in a band with one of the guys from Tool for a while. Now he produces and does solo stuff from his huge, state of the art home studio. No one buries a sly hook in such difficult music as Brad Laner.

“Christmas Bring Us” is a little taste of what you might’ve gotten if 1967-era The Who had recorded a Christmas single. (No, the song from Tommy just doesn’t work in a mix, try as I might.)

The Fab Four are four very clever fellows who try to do the Beatles cover-band thing. They’ve got two albums of fun re-writes of Christmas tunes with a Mersey twist on 'em. This one is my favorite.

Dave Edmunds is well-known as a guitarist and cohort of folks like Nick Lowe and even a certain Mr. Costello. While his guitar and spot-on Chuck Berry vocal impersonation are great here, whoever it is beating that piano into splinters is the real hero of this version of “Rudolph”.

There are two versions of “Merry Christmas Baby” from which every other one is sprung. A bluesman named Charles Brown did the first one. His “MCB” is a slow, languid, blues shuffle, and was the original. Otis Redding rewrote the melody a bit, and sped the thing up, and turned it into a joyful soul shouter (sadly, he recorded the vocal just before he was killed in that plane crash; Steve Cropper went back and added his killer guitar part and the horns and the signature organ that opens the song.) Here’s the problem: a number of modern singers have attempted to do Otis’s melody version…only slowed down to the same tempo as Charles Brown’s version. That dog don’t hunt. You either bash through this song like you can’t wait to open your presents, or you sing it with quiet mournfulness…but you don’t try to combine it. You know what? Whatever singer you are, you ain’t gonna top Otis (and especially the sheer joy of his “Hahaha” in the bridge), so just don’t even bother, ok? [/i]


I was sitting down to do Christmas things and I remembered that I hadn’t seen your Christmas thread :)

As always, thanks! “Christmas In The Snow” by Marah was the stand-out track from last year’s mix; my 3 year old still asks for it in the car a year later…

Looking forward to hearing what can replace it :)

BTW, I wanna do one more track mention. One of the flat-out oddest and most wonderful songs on this year’s comp is the song “Jangle Bells” by a band called Love Tractor.

Although “Jangle Bells” is a new song, Love Tractor is about as new to music as I am. They came out of the rich Athens, GA early 1980’s scene that spawned REM, The B-52’s, Pylon, Guadalcanal Diary, and a score of lesser lights. LT began life as an instrumental band, sort of taking their cue from New York’s no-wave geniuses The Raybeats.

By 1985, Love Tractor was adding vocals to songs, and they recorded a wonderfully loopy album called “This Ain’t No Outer Space Ship”. With vibrant, almost chirping instrumental backing that veered from jangle-pop to avant-jazz to oddball takes on funk (these guys could flat out play), guitarist Mike Richmond would sing imagistic, weirdo lyrics that make Pavement lyrics look lucid by comparison. The album was met with almost universal critical praise, began to get FM radio airplay on commercial stations…

…and then their label, Big Time, went tits-up (see Dumptruck, Redd Kross, The Lucy Show, et al for bands who had their careers destroyed by implosion and seizure of assets that hit Big Time). They managed to get a follow-up record out on the little North Carolina indie imprint DB Records in 1988, finally…

…and that record, “Themes From Venus”, is one of the great, wonderful lost albums of the late-80’s/early 90’s college rock era. It sounded like nothing else from that time period–with the challenging arrangements and crescendos (the title track explodes like you wouldn’t believe) and a sound dependent on keyboards and intricate guitar figures, “Themes From Venus” sounds like nothing so much as pre-“Abacab” Genesis married to a post-punk indie ethos…with again some of the most nonsensically surreal lyrics of the entire era. I loved and love that record like few others from that time; it was the very first compact disc I purchased. The album’s available on Emusic, and I recommend it heartily. Sadly, “Themes From Venus” had trouble getting good distribution (back when that sort of thing was paramount), and the band fell apart. Mike Richmond started a family and got a day job. Bassist/keyboardist Armistead Wellford joined House Of Freaks and then later Gutterball. The rest of the band left the music biz. About their only legacy was a shitty Widespread Panic song that borrowed their name (yeah, the band came first, you fucking hippies.)

So Love Tractor re-united (sort of) a few years ago and has put out a couple of albums that occasionally show flashes of their previous form. They also recorded an album of holiday-themed songs, and “Jangle Bells” is one of their original compositions…that quotes a Peter Tosh/Bob Marley song in the chorus (“Him no dead”) in a song that is in every way as inscrutably wonderful as prime Love Tractor.