A radio station within my range of reception has been playing exclusively Christmas music since Halloween. I like Christmas music as much as the next person -- actually I like it more than most people do -- but I while I think it's sad that some legitimately good songs are buried for much of the year, even I think continuous Christmas music from Halloween until December 26 is excessive.
The station of which I am writing does this all-Christmas-music-from-Halloween-until-Christmas format thing every year. Part of the problem with this station's November/December programming isn't just that the songs are all Christmas songs, but that there are too few of them in the play list. I'd estimate that they're rotating no more than 100 songs for twenty four hours every day.
Even within the confines of the format, the repetition is unnecessary. A very large number of musicians, living and dead, have recorded Christmas albums. All the station would have to do is to acquire rights to an additional ten or twenty of these albums each year in order to improve the quality of the broadcasts and make the few remaining part-time listeners less unhappy. I can't see such a thing happening anytime soon, though. If not playing same renditions of the same songs over and over and over hasn't yet occurred to the braintrust that first came up with the idea, I have grave doubts as to whether constructive criticism occurring in any from other than being struck by a bolt of lightning or a visit either from the ghost of Christmas past or from God himself would convince them.
Roughly one time of every three times I click onto the station in my car, "Do They Know It's Christmas" is playing. This is a song I enjoy; it's in my own collection. I like the song itself, and I like the idea that a group of musicians got together to make a charitable contribution for starving people. I don't necessarily want to hear it, or any other song, for that matter, two or three time a day for the better part of eight consecutive weeks, though.
If the previously mentioned song isn't playing, most often Frank Sinatra's version of "Let It Snow" is on. There are probably people my age who cannot tell the difference between Frank Sinatra and Tennessee Ernie Ford, but I'm not one of such ignoramuses. While my knowledge of Sinatra is far from encyclopeidic, I know that he was an incredibly talented musician with an incomparable instrument of a voice. I wish I could say the same for his back-up singers. One particular female who sang along with Sinatra on many of his holiday recordings possessed an almost inconceivably grating voice. Sinatra was reported to have been a shrewd businessman. My hope is that this woman, whoever the hell she was, compensated Sinatra handsomely for the privilege of singing background vocals on his records. I would hate to think he actually paid her to ruin his recordings. Then again, maybe she paid him in non-monetary ways, if you get my drift. A whole lot of that sort of thing went on back in the day, or so I've been told.
The station also pays far more Gene Autry material than any listener not in the profoundly deaf category would choose to hear. I understand that there is a major nostalgia effect going on with the music of Gene Autry. It sort of evokes memories of the day when a cowboy hat-topped head and a decidedly unimpressive voice could hold an audience's attention for more than thirty seconds to the extent that he would untimately bilk said audience for a sufficient sum to one day buy his own professional baseball team. Face it: in today's world, the man wouldn't have gotten past the initial round of American Idol. For that matter, Gene Autry would never have survived the gong in that iconic 70's American Idol predecessor. We'll give him "Here Comes Santa Claus" since he wrote it, not that it's all that solid a work in and of itself, but Autry's destruction of the Christmas music genre should begin and end with his signature work. His molestation of "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Rendeer" was and is an affront to God, Santa Claus, and reindeer everywhere, and should from this day forth be prohibited except in the privacy of the homes of any listeners so lacking in musical discrimination that they would find such an abomination remotely tolerable. Hell, for that matter, even if I were a Libertarian, I wouldn't have a huge problem with banning the playing of Gene Autry Christmas music in private settings. Some things are just plain wrong.
This next song is so utterly hideous, though, that I'd almost (note: I said almost) rather listen to Gene Autry butcher Christmas music for twenty-four consecutive hours than to hear it played in its entirety even once. I can't for the life of me figure out how it ever made it onto anyone's playlist, but it did. It's a preposterous story made into an even worse song. If you haven't yet deciphered the identity of the song I'm describing, it is most likely because you've blocked out any and all associations with this music-related (I refuse to use the term musical in reference to this most tragic occurrence in the history of music) catastrophe. I only wish I, too, possessed the capability to block such traumatic recollections.
Anway, the song, "Christmas Shoes" recounts the tale of a little boy who wants to buy a pair of shoes for his mama on Christmas Eve because she's going to die very soon and he wants her to look pretty when she meets Jesus. I swear I'm not making this up.
I'm not unsympathetic to the plight of a child losing a parent -- it very nearly happened to me when I was a little girl-- but sometimes a manufctured story of such is nothing more than a shameless attempt to tug at the heartstrings of listeners to the tune of lining one's pockets. I can't believe anyone fell for the ruse.This is easily the worst song ever written.
Columnist Dave Barry wrote a book about bad songs called [fittingly] Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs. I sometimes wonder what Dave Barry thought when this song came out a decade or two after his book. Did he consider reclaiming as many copies of the book as he could gather so that he could throw them all into a heap, pour on a bit of lighter fluid, and torch them all to ashes, because the very premise of his book had been rendered a complete and total lie in a single drunken or deranged night of [un]musical composition? Did he give up writing altogether? (I haven't heard much from him since then, come to think of it.) Or is he holding his thoughts, knowing that any publication from him declaring a particular song to be the worst song ever will challenge some unscrewed person out there to create an even more heinous piece of musical and literary repulsiveness just to prove to Barry and everyone else that musical and literary depravity is infinite?
In the near future I will list my favorite Christmas songs. Pleas feel free to share yours as well. In the meantime, I leave you with this atrocity.