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  • Retro Album Review: Passafist (1994)

    Recently I’ve been dealing with my midlife crisis by exploring all the music I loved in my youth. Of course, some of this music has held up pretty well despite my current standards, while some of this music sounds pretty dated. Part of this is, of course, the fact that my tastes have changed. The top 40 music I so loved as a teen isn’t really what I enjoy now, though some of the album rock I listened to in college is still quite amazing and relevant. All this being said, I am introducing a new topic to explore on aaronjedwards.com. I’ll be exploring, critiquing, and being downright brutal to the music I loved and thrived upon the int 80s and 90s. The general idea is to review albums as a whole, though I might review certain songs on their own, or perhaps certain artists. Some of it will be music most of my readers will know, while some of the music will be pretty obscure.

    The first album I want to review is certainly on the obscure side: the self-titled, and only, release by a band called “PassAFist.” The band formed in 1994 after Chagall Guevara’s disbanding.  Some might say that Dave Perkins and Lynn Nichols actually set out to make the second Chagall Guevara album with the Passafist project. Little can even be found on the album or band, so I’ll get right to the music itself.

    1. Emmanuel Chant

    The first track, Emmanuel Chant, feels like a post industrial dance number. The song almost sounds like if Trent Reznor wrote a song with MC 900 Ft. Jesus. It’s a very simple track, and very trance like. Ultimately, it’s a cry to God – a desire for the presence of the Lord.

    2. Glock

    The second track, Glock is a heavy and violent song speaking of vengeance. The  speaker in this song is an English teacher, who due to a school shooting, turns to a life of violence. While Glock doesn’t appear to fit with the first song, subsequent listenings could show that the speaker is the same. Emmanuel Chant, being the speaker’s desires, Glock being the speaker’s realities.  A mild-mannered person is suddenly feeling so unsafe that he must pursue a quest of vengeance. The pacifist in track one is suddenly finding himself needing to “pass a fist.”

    3. Christ of the Nuclear age

    Track three – Christ of the nuclear age is a confusing one. My interpretation is that the song revolves around an egoist who decides to follow the example of Christ, minus the love. We have someone who hangs out with prostitutes, but does not honor them. He’s a person who is not above destroying anything he dislikes, even if this is overly destructive to those around him. He’s one to mix spit and mud, and throw it in your eyes. It’s almost as if this “Nuclear Christ,” mocks Christ and all who follow Christ. But really digging into a deeper meaning, one can find a bit of a subtext: The man is actually representative of many churches. These churches try to mimic Christ, but forget that Christ had love as his central message.

    4. Love E900

    Track 4, Love E900 is a commentary of the culture that, before the internet, arose around 1-900 numbers. You could call for psychics,  you could call for phone sex, you could call for jokes, financial advice, and pretty much anything you might now just google. One could raise a pretty hefty phone bill on said services. I’ve always felt that this was the weakest track on the album, but that doesn’t mean it’s a weak song by any means. In fact, one might say that it’s a valuable piece of history. Love E900 shows the proto culture that eventually evolved into our culture of instant gratification. It shows a culture that demands instant gratification from their technology.

    5. Appliance Alliance

    Track five, Appliance Alliance pairs nicely with track three. They’re both about a church without the love of Jesus. Having said that, while Christ of the Nuclear age explores one unnamed man, Appliance Alliance is specifically about Jim and Tammy Faye Baker. The image of “Queenie” crying is a dead giveaway, as the now late Tammy Faye famously cried, several times on the PTL network. This is only one of the many details included on the fall of the Baker’s TV Ministry. It’s quite the chilling tale! Of course the take away from this song is that of any history lesson….learning from the mistakes of others. In this case, Appliance Alliance shows us what happened to Jim and Tammy Baker when they put money and power ahead of God. The current generation of televangelists should take head of this, sometimes, “Entertainment is…hell.”

    6. Street Fighting Man

    Track six, Street Fighting Man, is a cover of a Rolling Stones song. One must ask why Passafist, an album which talks about so many evils – violence, corruption, greed, and heresy, would include this specific cover. However, the song serves as a metaphor. The fact that Street Fighting Man found inspiration from the violence and outcry in Paris and America, while London seemed rather quiet in the late 60s. It feels as though Perkins and Nichols are asking themselves a question: With all this evil in the world, is it enough to just sit back, quietly, and play rock and roll? Are they changing anything by talking about said evil? Do they need to do more? Really, it’s the eternal struggle of all creators – be they painters, writers, musicians, etc. Where does singing songs really get us? When is it time to put down our guitars, paint brushes and pens and do something more?

    7. The Dr. Is In

    Track seven, The Dr. is in, ends the album with what can only be said a tangled mess, an anthem of peace, and an amazing tribute to a classic film – Dr. Strangelove. On the surface, the song sounds as though it’s just trying to give a recap to the film – complete with crazy conspiracies of Soviet plots to poison us with luoride. In the deeper sense, this song is all about what it takes to get peace. Essentially, “Peace like a river,” only “flows through this land” when we’ve fought ourselves to oblivion. When we’ve nuked ourselves and our enemies into a nuclear winter. Hopeless, eh? Or maybe not….this is a song about the cold war, written three years after the cold war had ended. Could it just be that Perkins and Nichols still didn’t trust the Russians? Or could it be that they’re pointing out hope despite the lack of hope? It’s a bloody miracle that the Cold War ended the way it did. There were several times that we came dangerously close to all out war with the Soviet Union….and yet we somehow didn’t. So perhaps peace like a river can flow without hell freezing over. Perhaps there is hope.

    Is Passafist still relevant?

    Part of this experiment is to ask how this album has aged. Musically, Passafist is a little dated, though I’ve seen worse offenders. The album sounds like a typical mid 90s rock albu. Could it have been composed today? Maybe….but probably not. Granted – while it’s not a “modern” sound, the music still holds up. The music may have aged, but it’s certainly aged gracefully. The lyrics, however, are certainly still relevant. Glock, talking about un violence and school shootings. Appliance Alliance, while talking about a specific televangelist, certainly warns current televangelist about their plight if they don’t watch their steps. The Dr. is in certainly could become very relevant if we end up in a second cold war – considering the crap Putin has pulled recently…. Of course, Love E900 hasn’t aged well as the technology involved really isn’t relevant. Still, as a whole, Passafist has indeed aged well for being almost 25 years old.


  • Maybe I’ll give Death Cab for Cutie another shot.

    I remember back in the mid 00s, I kind of hated Death Cab for Cutie. I had several reasons, but honestly, I think it was that they were just too popular and I was just too cool for school. I remember a friend of mine from that era used to say that if I don’t like something just because it was popular, I was still letting what is popular influence me. Damn I hated when she would say that. of course, I always said I wasn’t doing that – that I actually did not like whatever song, movie, or what have you. Still looking back at who I was, I’m pretty sure I hated things just because they were popular. I’ll even go so far as to say that I still do that – but I digress.

    Like I said, I didn’t like Death Cab for Cutie back in that era. I did like a few songs here and there. “President of What” felt like a battle cry against the current administration (sadly, that song is even more relevant today). “I Was a Kaleidoscope” is just a fun song. And of course, there’s the cover of “Handle me with Care.” Technically, that’s a Jenny Lewis song, but Ben Gibbard did an amazing job at covering Roy Orbison’s vocals. Oh, and of course the Postal Service still gets several plays a year from me. So it wasn’t like I hated all things Death Cab for Cutie, but I still felt they were overrated.

    One of the reasons I said they were overrated: I always felt like they tried too hard with their lyrics. I remember reading an article after Transantlanticism came out said something about their lyrics being “Hey, aren’t I clever?” I got really excited, and was like “yeah….that’s how I feel about them!” Looking back, maybe I thought that way because I do the same thing. Readers of my blog already know that I sometimes try to push how clever I am on my audience. So maybe there was more to it than just the fact that they were too popular….maybe they reminded me too much of myself. And maybe that scared me – but I digress. Aren’t I clever?

    OK, so what made me change my mind? Pretty much what changes my mind about most music anymore – a random song on Spotify. In this case, it was the song “I Will Possess Your Heart.” Half the song is this amazing instrumental. Four minutes or so in, and you’re like…this is nice. And then the vocals start. At this point, I didn’t even expect vocals, I thought it was all instrumental. It’s almost like two songs smashed together. Once more, the “two songs” don’t quite look like they could fit together…at least not on paper. The two songs feel almost alien from each other. The rhythms don’t match, the instrumentation on the first part does not match the lyrics on the second part…honestly it looks like two cars going full speed and crashing into each other. Yet, when they do crash, what emerges from the wreckage is an amazing and beautiful thing. Ok, so maybe that’s a morbid metaphor, so for the sake of making things well – no one in either car was hurt and their insurance covered the costs in full and both cars got replaced with something better. But I digress again….am I still being clever?

    While writing this article, I, of course, have been listening to Death Cab for Cutie – some of the more popular songs of course, but also some of the deep cuts. I have a theory that any band worth listening to should have a few songs that are absolutely amazing but just aren’t very well known outside of their fan base. I may not have found those songs with Death Cab (yet), but I got to say, I have not heard a bad song. As far as the “Hi, aren’t I clever lyrics,” I’m not hearing those either. I’m hearing clever lyrics, yes. Lyrics from a master wordsmith. So even if they are saying “Hi, Aren’t I Clever,” they have every right to say so. Maybe that’s what’s got me more receptive to this band. Car crash analogies notwithstanding, I’ve learned in the last 15 years I don’t have to try to be clever, because I am clever. I realize this sounds extremely narcissistic, but I’ve learned how smart I really am, and that it’s ok to admit it. I also know that in admitting this, I gain confidence, and thus come up with even more brilliant ideas, writings, or what have you. I’ve learned that being smart is a strength, just as the clever lyrics of Death Cab for Cutie is also a strength.

    If there’s a point to this article, other than go listen to everything Death Cab for Cutie has ever recorded, it’s don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to analyze why you dislike something. Don’t be afraid to admit you dislike something for stupid reasons. Don’t be afraid of letting your friends point out that you dislike something for stupid reasons. Don’t be afraid to say that you dislike things because you’re not confident in your own abilities. Most of all, don’t be afraid to look back, 15 years later, and say “I was wrong about X.” Tonight, in doing this I not only found an amazing band with several albums to explore, but I also learned something about myself. As I type this, I’m listening to the song “Your New Twin Sized Bed. This is strangely relevant…as the bridge states “It’s like we’re in some kind of hurry, to say Goodbye.” Don’t be in a hurry to say goodbye to music you don’t like, especially if you think you should like it. Maybe it will grow on you, or maybe you’re just being stubborn.


  • 7 Songs that make no sense – and yet make total sense

    Nonsense – utter nonsense. It really makes no sense, but that’s of course the point. If it made any, even the slightest amount of sense, it wouldn’t be utter nonsense would it? It would be partial nonsense. And yet sometimes, in just the right context, utter nonsense makes all the damned sense possible. Especially if said nonsense can be found in a song. Plenty of songs use nonsensical lyrics, but somehow the meaning of the song shines through nonetheless. Mind you – it may or may not be the intention of the song writer, but then again I tend to stray away from the intentional fallacy. Let’s take a look at a few of these songs, shall we?

    Continue reading  Post ID 1521


  • A few songs to get me (and maybe you) through the next four years

    Piano flag

    Before I start, I want to state that this blog is usually not very political. I know and even respect a lot of people who have different political viewpoints than I do, and I want to make sure to keep this blog a safe space for those people. I value diversity in opinions, and even try to understand where people are coming from when they think differently than I do. So, please – if you disagree with me politically, please know that I am doing my best to see your point of view.

    With that out of the way – I’m frightened by the prospect of certain people running the country for the next four years. Maybe even terrified. I’ve never felt this way about any politician before. Despite all this fear – I have to live. I can’t just give up – I have to find a way to not only survive, but even thrive in what might be a very dark chapter in our nation’s history. Of course – those of you who know me and read this blog know that one thing that helps me to get by with my day to day is music. So, of course I made a list of songs that I plan on using for that purpose. I’m sure this will be part one of who knows how many. By the way, here’s a handy dandy Spotify link to this list. Subscribe and watch the list of songs grow!

    Is it Like Today – World Party: This song kind of changes it’s tone with my mood. Sometimes I see it as a philosophical song, sometimes a negative, sometimes a neutral. Despite the tone, the song really does make us compare our own day and age with the past. It makes us look at history with unforgiving eyes, and serve as a warning to us to not repeat the mistakes of the past. There are those who are claiming Hitler 2.0. I’m not quite there yet – though I do like to say Mussolini 2.0. Regardless, it is important to ask if this new (and any) administration is repeating the mistakes of the past. Be it the mistakes of WWII, Vietnam, The Roman Empire, The Babylonian Empire, the age of exploration, or whatever age you want to look at. It has almost become a cliche that if we don’t know history, we are indeed doomed to repeat it.

    Stars and Stripes of Corruption – The Dead Kennedys Sometimes I think this should be the national anthem, regardless of who is in office. Despite the fact that it starts out with an act of social disobedience of a banal manner, it asks some pretty tough questions of anyone who would commit such an act. Sure….it takes a few pot shots at the “Archie Bunkers waving the flag,” but then it makes a point of claiming social responsibility. It says change needs to happen, not just with “the other side,” but with ourselves. Let’s stop lying to eachother. Let’s encourage eachother instead! Yeah – not many people are going to agree with every single line in this song, but I feel like everyone can find a little wisdom in a line or two.

    My War – Black Flag: In the introduction, I talked about how many of the people I associate with, even respect, are in political opposition to my personal stances. To quote this song – “you say you’re my friend, but you’re one of them.” It really does cause an internal war with me. Don’t worry – that’s pretty much as far as this analogy goes. I really don’t believe any of my associates want me dead and I certainly don’t want any of them dead. Still – there is a struggle. It isn’t easy to hold my tongue sometimes, even if I know it’s for the best. Granted, I’m sure some of my associates feel the same way about me.

    Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Monty Python: This might have the most offensive video ever to be made – but the message is pure: Optimism is never a bad policy. I realize some are pessimists, some are realists – I’m not. I’m an optimist. I need my hope and the moment I loose hope – well – let’s just say it gets really bad. Sure…..the resident of the White House might launch us into nuclear war. Sure, he’s going to take away health care. Sure, he might take away funding for pretty much everything and make us a third world country. But hey! It could be worse! We at least had a few good years! Oh god…..please let this guy step down like….NOW!

    Pride In the Name of Love – U2: In all honesty, I have it pretty ok. I’m not a persecuted gender, religion, sex, or ethnicity. Not all are this lucky. The current resident of the White House ran on a campaign of fear against minorities. Maybe it was all talk, maybe it wasn’t. Regardless, as I said before – those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. This is why this, and songs like this are important. They talk about the past struggles of great men like Martin Luther King Jr. They remind us of the sacrifices made by these people. And they remind people like myself, the lucky ones, that we need to remember how lucky we really are. It makes us remember that despite the fact that maybe everything will be fine for a WASP like me, it might not be so fine for someone else.

    You Can Call me Al – Paul Simon: This song isn’t for me – rather it’s for those who might need a friend. Those mentioned in the last section. I realize that the whole safety pin on the hoodie thing is in danger of loosing substance, but to me it’s a very serious thing. I’ve been in a place where a friendly smile and a listening ear – even that of a total stranger – would have been more than welcome. I want to be that to others that need it. Maybe no one will really need this, maybe they will. Regardless, I am willing to their bodyguard, their long lost pal. They can call me Betty, and I’ll call them Al.

    Under Pressure – Queen with David Bowie: It’s a terror of knowing what this world is about….watching some good friends scream LET ME OUT! This song captures so many emotions. Those of fear, hope, pressure, and even giving up. But it ends with love. It ends with pleading for love. When we’re under pressure, it might be easy to give up – but it’s better to give love one more chance. On a totally unrelated note – damn I miss David Bowie. 🙁

    Drunken Lullabies – Flogging Molly: It’s ok to be angry at whatever the president does. It’s not ok to fall into complacency. It’s not ok just to roll over and take it. It’s not ok to sit around, singing drunken lullabies about better times. This song was written during W’s administration – but I feel its time is again coming. And just like the song says – I feel we’re going to, once again, find ourselves in the same old mess. Let’s sober up and do something about this crap storm!

    Baby I Can’t Please You – Sam Phillips: This song is dedicated to those who have opposing ideals and decide to be dicks about it. Yeah – strong language, but necessary. It’s dedicated to those who decide it’s better to be “right” than to care about those who are, in your eyes, wrong. It’s dedicated to pundits – both conservative, liberal, or other, who care more about their ideologies than the people they hurt. This song’s true message is simple – stop being a jerk! Just stop it! You’re dealing with people with real emotions.

    Hand in My Pocket – Seeway: When Alanis Morissette originally sang this song in the 90s, it felt like an anthem of knowing all is well, even though all is not known. It said despite our lack of direction, we could figure it out somehow. It was, in truth, a very optimistic song. This version keeps that optimism, however it adds an element of anger. The vocals and guitars add an element of rage. So, what about the optimism found in the original? It’s still there – it’s just more about “this too shall pass” and less about an immediate it’s going to be alright type of attitude. Everything’s going to be fine fine fine….but it might not be fine for awhile.

    Raised by Wolves – U2: This is a story of a car bombing Bono almost became a victim of. I’m not sure if he would have been in the blast, or just a witness – but regardless, he would have been a victim. One cannot recover from even being a witness of that kind of violence. Do I believe that our country is heading towards this type of violence? Probably not. Though I do fear a fascist administration – and I do fear the retaliation that might ensue.

    Ping Pong – Stereolab: Perhaps one of my biggest fears of the current administration is that we end up in another stupid war. A war we spend billions – maybe even trillions on, and gets us nothing. A war that gives us a whole new set of problems, all in the name of whatever buzzword might be popular at the time. I’m usually a moderate type of guy – but damn – I HATE war. I’m a hardcore pacifist, and I don’t want my tax dollars used to fund war. What’s worse is the military industrial complex spouting the lies this song talks about. War is good for the economy. Bull(CENSORED). And besides – the lives of others are worth more than any philosophical dollars some already rich CEO might make. Yeah – sorry, I rant when it comes to war.

    Message in a Bottle – Sting and Edin Karamazov (Live from the Labyrinth): You probably know this song – but this version of this song is just amazing. Very slow and subtle. I feel as though this version spades, no, hearts, no..dang it – can’t think of the right word – but whatever word it is, it does it to the original. It really captures the feeling of loneliness the original so desperately wants to describe to the listener. And then a message of hope in the last verse. We aren’t alone people. We have each other. We aren’t alone in being alone.

    Russian Lullaby – Havalina Rail Co: One for his boss. Ok, ok, cheap shot. Fppppt.

    Escher’s World – Chagall Guevara: This is just here to say we might wake up in an alternative timeline. One that doesn’t make sense. One that disobeys the laws of physics. One that might just be a dream land. Maybe that’s where we’re at. Maybe it’s all a dream……

    I Should be Allowed to Think – They Might be Giants: I said one of my biggest fears of the current administration is going to war. Another is a blatant stripping of our rights. I’m very libertarian when it comes to things like free speech, freedom of expression, and the like. Hell, I’m a writer. I work in community access television! I want people to say what they want to say even if I disagree with it. However, considering some of the things pulled already, I fear these rights are in jeopardy. What’s next? Thought crime?

    Be Thou My Vision – Pedro The Lion: My final addition to this list is about centering my spirit I guess. I’ve talked alot about my hopes fears, emotions, et cetera. This song is to say – I guess this is to keep my focus on what really matters. We’ve not been blown to oblivion yet. While I don’t have a lot of hope for the current administration – there’s always hope. There’s always faith. There’s always love. I chose this version because a) I love David Bazen’s voice, and b) it gives me the feeling that Bazen sang it not out of praise – but out of surrender despite whatever situation might have been happening.


  • 12 Christmas songs you really should listen to…

    stringlights
    The holidays are here – ready or not. Some years I get excited – this year, not so much as it’s been a tough year. However, I believe in the holidays, and no matter my mood, I feel as though I need to observe them. The holidays are so much bigger than my own individual mood – so dive into the holidays I shall. There are few things to help me accomplish this – looking at pretty lights always helps, as does looking at the excitement of children in the toy department as they spy their Christmas morning wish. But the biggest thing that helps put me in a holiday mood is to listen to music. Some music is silly, some is sweet, some is profound, some is even sad. Whatever the mood though – it helps set my mood. So on that – here is a list of some of my holiday favorites. I hope they enhance your season as much as they enhance mine:

    Christmas – Blues Traveler: These guys get the season right. They start the song out with saying they just don’t “feel it” at this time, and yet they pursue the season anyways. They tell the listener that the holidays are about hope, love, peace on Earth, etcetera. “Noel / or navidad / Season celebration or just the end of the year / Christmas can mean anything /And I mean to keep it’s hope forever near.” They end the song by singing “Hark the herald’s angel sing.” If you don’t understand their religious / philosophical views, the significance of this might get lost on you, but to give you a hint – they’re outspoken atheists and have done entire albums on their viewpoints. So – the ending of the song gives me a huge amount of respect for Blues Traveler as this is putting action to words. This is Blues Traveler showing their feelings are irrelevant as there are more important things to focus on this time of year. Bravo guys, bravo.


    Do they Know it’s Christmas – Band Aid: Ok, ok, this might not be the most cheery song ever, but that’s fine. There’s just something about hearing Sting, Bono, Boy George, George Micheal, and every other freaking early 80s British or Irish musician of note singing together. And once more, they were singing together for a cause. They were trying to raise money to feed starving people, as well as to raise awareness of famine. Yeah, sure….the author of the song (Bob Geldof) kind of hates the song (even calling it one of the worse songs ever written). Yeah sure, they had to basically throw a temper tantrum to get Boy George out of bed, across the freaking Atlantic and into the studio. Yeah, sure….Bono really didn’t want to sing that line. Still – when everything was finished, they produced something amazing. Something that’s part of my history. Something that even inspired Quincy Jones and Micheal Jackson to create We are the World (Geldof hates that song as well). This song is my childhood. And despite what Bono thought at the time, I believe “Well tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you,” is one of the best lyrics ever written. I do wonder one thing though – why wasn’t Elvis Costello involved?


    12 Days of Christmas – John Denver and the Muppets: Yes, yes, I’m 42 years old and I still love this song. Why? Well, one of the components of the holiday season is joy. What brings more joy than laughter? This is a very funny song. Actually, the entire album is funny as heck. We need more humor in this world, so if you don’t like it….well adjust your funny bone. And chant with animal…won’t go! Won’t go! WON’T GO! (badum dum). Oh wait, that’s We wish you a merry Christmas. Like I said – the entire album is hysterical. And Awesome. If it doesn’t bring you joy, you need a shot of Christmas cheer.


    Oh Come All Ye Faithful – Twisted Sister: I never knew that Christmas music could rock until I heard Twisted Sister’s version of this song. But rock it does! It rocks so hard, I want to sing into a hair dryer, 80s style, whenever I hear this. I want to tear my clothes off and dress like the band. Well, maybe not – I mean, me dressed in women’s clothing might look scary. Then again, I probably wouldn’t look half as scary as Dee Snider. One highlight of this song – in the guitar solo (yes, there’s a guitar solo), they start drifting off into “We’re not gonna take it.” Almost an Antithesis of Iron Butterfly, who, in the long version of Inna-gadda-da-vida, drifted into “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” By the way – if you’re not watching any of the videos – watch this one. You’ll laugh your ass off.


     

    Hark the Herald Angels Sing – Bad Religion: Just as Twisted Sister makes Christmas Music rock, so does Bad Religion. But while (I feel) Twisted Sister did it for the hell of it – Bad Religion’s Christmas songs feel like they took a page from Blues Traveler. Here’s a punk band, named Bad Religion of all things. They have been known to come out against organized religion, even featuring a Cross with a red circle and Line through it as their logo. Yet they’re singing some of the most sacred songs, and with reverence too. I chose Hark the Herald Angels Sing as my example, but really most of the entire album does this. And it’s beautiful. It demonstrates that while they speak out against organized religion, they’re perfectly ok with the actual teachings of Jesus, ie love, love, love.


    All I ever get for Christmas is Blue – Over The Rhine: There’s a sultry, jazzy feel to this song which will just give you shivers unless you’re dead – and oh the feels! Over the Rhine says they like to write “Reality Christmas” music; music that recognizes, despite the holiday season and the joy thereof, we still feel real and often times dark emotions. We miss loved ones, we feel fear, rejection, sorrow, and pain. This song in particular reminds me of so many Christmas mornings where I longed to have someone by my side – my loneliness having to take a back seat to the holiday, but my loneliness still there. I suppose songs such as this are almost an antithesis to that of the Blues Traveler’s “Christmas.” Just as the season asks us to recognize the season is bigger than our own individual feelings – this song, and others in the “Reality Christmas” genre, remind us that we’re still human. That we can still feel sorrow and pain if we need to – even if it is Christmas day.


    Underneath the Tree – Kelly Clarkson: Perhaps this song isn’t up the same standard as most of the other songs on this list, but dammit, I like Kelly Clarkson. So sue me. And this song provides a happy ending to All I ever get for Christmas is blue. There’s nothing wrong with a happy ending. Yes, it’s cheesy, yes, it’s plastic, yes, it’s typical pop – but it’s sweet, sweet candy. There’s nothing wrong with eating candy every so often – as long as you don’t make a steady diet of it, you should be fine.


    Christmas at Ground Zero – Weird Al Yankovic: I used to listen to this song every Black Friday. It was almost always the first Christmas song I listened to and set the tone for the entire season for me. While this song is indeed very funny, It really does explore peace on earth. It shows us the horror of a nuclear war – and how even Christmas time chants of peace, hope and joy cannot stop idiotic madmen if they’re hell bent on destruction. Perhaps we should all send this to any and all future presidents. Include with it a short letter: please, for heaven’s sake, and for the sake of Peace on Earth, don’t bomb people. Please! Give Peace a chance.


    Christmas Dinner, Country Style – Bing Crosby: Perhaps this song is a little outdated. I really don’t know too many people who make a thanksgiving style dinner on Christmas anymore. Who has that kind of time? We’ve got relatives to visit, presents to wrap, presents to unwrap. Besides, who wants to do all those damned dishes? Having said all that, it’s a throwback to a different time – one I saw in my grandparents and their siblings. One that will always be part of me, even if it celebrates a tradition I don’t celebrate. Going back to the concept of Reality Christmas, perhaps remembering our deceased loved ones during the holidays isn’t as bad or sorrowful as we think it might be. Remembering their traditions, their quirks, what made them smile, what made them happy – yeah, we miss them – but remembering the things that gave them joy might be enough to bring us a little joy despite their absence.


    Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire – Bob Rivers: Let’s be honest: there are some freaking annoying Christmas songs out there. And while some of you might like the Chipmunks Christmas song, I see it as one of the most annoying songs ever written. This song serves as a sort of therapy for those of us who just can’t listen to that accursed song any freaking more. Sure – it might be a bit to macabre for the season, but hey! It brings me joy to think of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore as part of that “Christmas dinner, country style…”


    Winter Wonderland – Steve Taylor: Christmas songs done in a mariachi style. Why not? I guess it’s better than José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad.”


     

    The Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah: I’ll leave you with this, perhaps one of the most beloved choral arrangements of all times. This song, especially while preformed by a mass choir and full orchestra, really does illiterate the point about the season being more than just about our own selves. Look at the video – look at all those faces. Hundreds of people, with who knows what is going on in their lives. If you pay attention, you can even see it in their faces. You can see that something in their lives is not going well – there’s pain and sorrow and worry…and yet there they are….singing Hallelujah with a thousand other people. They may or may not believe the same things as I believe – they may or may not care about the same things – they may or may not even like the same type of music. But there they stand, singing about the coming of the Messiah (whether they believe in the Messiah or not).

    Merry Christmas everybody.