samedi 25 décembre 2010

Just because a song has the word "Christmas" in it doesn't make it a Christmas song

I know that the holiday season is one of sad memories and loss for many people. It seems that a disproportionate number of people lose loved ones during the holidays -- parents, spouses, even children. I think of Elizabeth Edwards' young children, still raw from the loss of their mother, trying to find a way to observe Christmas in some way that doesn't make it worse. I have a friend who lost her husband in the fall and her father last week -- a double 4th quarter whammy. Colored lights and TV commercials showing large, loving families sometimes just serve to rub salt in the wounds.

Still, the fact that between 2 PM yesterday and 10 AM this morning I heard Joni Mitchell's "River" not once but THREE SEPARATE TIMES on the radio makes me wonder. I know we all feel that if we have to hear "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" one more time a well-placed icepick embedded squarely in one's own frontal lobe sounds like an appealing prospect, but I'm not sure that "River" is the answer.

It's one thing to be a brooding, depressive adolescent, writing sad poetry in a blank book while sitting alone at lunchtime at school and coming home to listen to the Blue album and crying. It's quite another for the very same people who perpetrate Burl Ives on us every Christmas to decide that the presence of the word "Christmas" in the first line makes "River" something to which even the loneliest, most depressive adult in the world should be listening on Christmas.

If you've got the blues on Christmas, there are far better choices. Like Sonny Boy Williamson's Christmas Blues:

Or Charley Jordan's Christmas Christmas Blues:

Or Eric Clapton, Crying Christmas Tears:

Or Blind Lemon Jefferson, Christmas Eve Blues

Or if your mood leans more to rage and cynicism than tears and depression, there's Maxine of the Hallmark Cards, Crabby Christmas Blues:

Or Ray Davis, in a solo performance of the Kinks, Father Christmas:

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