I Know I’m A Jew But Are These New Christmas Songs The Worst Or What?
Scott Sings That Classic Tune, "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer!"
Call me old fashioned or whatever you want but for my money, I want to hear about sidewalks busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style and not about Grandma getting run over by a reindeer. When I was in high school we used to sing Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" every year for our annual Christmas concert (yes, it used to be called the Christmas Concert and not Holiday Concert though I was always the one who ended up singing "The Dradel Song" in the show as the token Jew number) and I was even fine with "in excelsis deyo" (mainly because the whole dey-o part made me feel a little like Harry Belafonte) but I gotta tell you that I know I'm a Jew but are these new Christmas songs the worst or what? - Don't Get Me Started!
I've done Christmas shows for years and as someone who is a performer and Jew, I'd "fall on my knees" to "oh hear the angels' voices" as long as someone is paying me. (And that means I'd sing it in December or August as long as there's a paycheck. Makes no difference to me they're just songs. Not only will I sing it but to the chest pains it gives my Mother, I'd make you believe I believed it too). So rest assured that I know all the songs, the classic tenor harmony part to all of the carols and if you needed me to I can even recite ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas or Yes Virginia There Is A Santa Clause, having done all of that at one point or another during my illustrious career. From the classic stuff like Nat King Cole's "Christmas Song" to the Chipmunks' "Christmas Song" I could go on Christmas Name That Tune and smoke any Christian they'd put me up against.
So several years back when I was performing and started to get all the novelty numbers in the holiday shows (being told I was the Danny Kaye of the show - still don't get that reference as they weren't patter songs, I'm not a redhead but I am Jewish like him so maybe that's what the director meant, who knows?) I was given the infamous "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" number. This fact that this number is stupid is a given although it didn't really matter how swell I sold it, twanged my voice or looked good in my Christmas vest with my cowboy hat because there were other members of the cast behind me (complete with my six foot mate dressed and acting the part of Grandma) that had the audience in stitches therefore not caring if I was singing this song or some satanic heavy metal song. You see a guy in a nightgown and cap always sends audiences into gales of laughter. (There's your theatrical tip of the day in case you're directing a show any time soon.) And while I'd like to think this experience shaped my dislike for the newer holiday songs, I know that this is not the case, they are just really bad songs nowadays.
While I hate "Grandma" there's another song that I hate even more and I can't seem to turn on a radio without hearing it (even having to be woken up to it one morning on my radio alarm). "The Christmas Shoes" song sung by Bob Carlisle is perhaps the most annoying, cheap sentiment song ever created for Christmas and now as if it wasn't bad enough having to listen to it; the Lifetime Channel has created a movie based on the song. If you haven't heard this song let me sum it up for you. A guy is doing last minute shopping when he sees a boy "dirty from head to toe" (I have no idea why it's supposed to make us feel more for this boy because he's dirty, but I digress) who is standing there with a pair of shoes. Through the course of the seventeen verses of the song we find out that the boy's mother is dying and he wants her to have a nice pair of shoes so she looks beautiful when "she meets Jesus tonight" but he doesn't have enough money to buy the shoes. So the man singing this endless crappy song gives the boy the rest of the money to buy the shoes (couldn't he have sprung for the full price of the Hush Puppies so the boy could have also bought a bar of soap to get clean?) and the boy rushes home to his dying mother while the narrator of the song says that he knows God sent this boy to him so that he would remember what Christmas is all about. Really? Is buying a dying woman a pair of shoes what Christmas is all about? Is it about shopping? I know I'm Jewish but doesn't this over commercialized holiday have something to do with someone named Jesus? (And not just looking pretty for Jesus; which frankly seems a little unseemly doesn't it?) This song is designed to make you cry more than an episode of Extreme Home Makeover but to me it's just a sappy song that never hits the right note. What's more is that it's so freaking annoying that I don't care if the dirty boy gets his mother's shoes or the narrator learns anything about Christmas. These types of intentionally written "tug on your heart strings" numbers need not be written, recorded or heard. Give me the old, "Jingle Bell Rock" that I can swing to or "Away In A Manger" that tells a story that has something to do with the holiday, any day.
So I ask as a member of the human race who listens to the radio, will you Christians stop all ready? All the Christmas music that is good or works was all ready created long ago (with the exception of Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" song, which is fabulous and adorable). I mean look at all the carols and the songs written from the 1920's through the 1950's and then tell me that Wham's "Last Christmas" or "The Christmas Shoes" song are the same caliber. You can't convince me. So I don't mind having to hear all about Jesus for a month every year but I'll be God Damned if I'm going to listen to songs about dirty kids buying shoes for their mother so she can get a date with Jesus. That's where I draw the line. I know I'm a Jew but are these new Christmas songs the worst or what? - Don't Get Me Started!
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