I'd like to close out the advent goodness by attempting to rehabilitate a song that's been criticized a lot in recent years,
I love this song. I love call and response songs. I love the variety of ways the roles can be played in it. (
Roles. Remember that. It's important.) I love the variety of deliveries folks can give it. It's a really well-crafted song, but it's a problematic song.
The song has a bad reputation lately because, to modern ears, the lyrics sound date-rapey. It sounds like the woman wants to leave, and the guy is being a dick about not letting her do so. It sounds like he's trying to press her into consenting to things she doesn't want to do.
But that's the wrong context for it. The mistake is in sticking the song into a real-world context. It wasn't written for that context.
Look, here's the actual context for the song. It's sung by a husband and wife. No, really, in real life it was written by Frank Loesser and sung as a duet with his wife, Lynn Garland, in front of their friends. Garland adored the song and was mad when he sold it. It's two consenting, married adults, role-playing. That's not my interpretation. That's what the song actually is.
When she says
The answer is 'no', she's not really saying
no. In modern parlance, it would be like any sort of naughty sex role-playing, where there's a safeword when you really mean
no. (Of course, this is 1944, and the naughty part is her bucking societal expectations by staying at all.)
When she says
What's in this drink? she's chiding him; she's not really suspicious of the drink. They're role-playing in the song.
In the wake of 50 Shades, we have a society in which rough BDSM sex is accepted, because we all know that it's consensual role-playing. Yet, somehow, we can't figure out that this wonderful song is the same sort of thing.
Anyway, my favorite version of the song is the Ann-Margret/Al Hirt version. It's slow and sensual, clocking in at just a hair over three and a half minutes. Ann-Margret plays at innocence, purposely failing spectacularly at it.
Baby, It's Cold Outside
Now, it's true that you can make the song creepy. I watched a local holiday production where they had two kids singing it. That was creepy. Of course, having them pretend to have rough BDSM sex would have been creepy, too. Some things aren't meant for children.
People often ask me what's my least favorite Xmas album.
Well, okay, no one really asks me that, but I'm gonna tell you anyway.
It's Bob Dylan's
Christmas in the Heart. Now, don't get me wrong. Dylan is a genius songwriter. I'll not even think of arguing that point. But the guy just has an awful voice. I understand some folks like it. They're wrong. When he was young, it was a whiny nasally thing. With age, it's just become worse.
This album came out in 2009, so Bob's pretty old on it. He sounds fucking awful. He sounds like a creepy uncle who might touch you inappropriately. Meanwhile, he's
singing over bog-standard versions of the songs. There's nothing remotely interesting about this album, musically. There's nothing remotely redeeming about this album, vocally.
I dunno; maybe this was meant as a joke...
Christmas in the Heart
Odd and awkward, yet still somehow endearing, here's Bing and Bowie singing a duet.
The Little Drummer Boy (Peace On Earth)
I mentioned earlier how Henry Rollins' voice really wasn't suited to singing
Carol of the Bells. He's just not good at fast precise enunciation. Then I mentioned that Leonard Graves Phillips from the
Dickies would have been a better choice. So here are the Dickies, with Silent Night.
Here's another song from deep within my collection of Xmas-themed music. As usual, I don't know from where I obtained it. I don't even know the name of the artist. It's a weird song, with a backing track that keeps cutting out a beat too early. It's
off musically, but endearingly so.
Christmas on Prozac
I didn't always love and collect Xmas music. In fact, I can still remember the CD that led me down the path. It was
Anyway, it's a swell listen, with classic Xmas songs played on a combination of wood-working tools and traditional instruments. Yes, it's a goofy novelty disc, but that doesn't mean the songs aren't well done. This is a listenable chunk of Xmas goodness.
Why does today's post feature Charo's version of
(Mamacita) ¿Donde Esta Santa Claus? Because Charo; that's why!
(Mamacita) ¿Donde Esta Santa Claus?
(Safety note: Don't insert a candy cane that's lacking a crook. No one wants an embarrassing, and sticky, trip to the ER.)
Carol of the Bells. It's so agressive, easily the most agressive of all the traditional carols. Because I like that aspect, I really only like versions that move at a good clip. If your version of
Carol of the Bells is longer than a minute twenty, you're going too damn slow!
One of my favorite versions is from some obscure slab of vinyl called
A Saint Louis Christmas, with this particular track sung by the Fox Senior High School Honor Choir. It really flies, yet with good diction.
Carol of the Bells by the Fox Senior High School Honor Choir
Some versions replace the singers with some sort of instrument. That's just cheating. It's too easy to do. The magic comes from the voices. That said, this version on a Moog is fairly fun, despite the cheating.
Carol of the Bells by the Moog Machine
Finally, Stephen Colbert invited Henry Rollins onto
The Late Show to sing a punk version of it. It's okay, but Henry's punk schtick was slow-burn bellowing, not precise fast singing. A much better choice would have been Leonard Graves Phillips from the
Dickies. (Don't worry. The Dickies may well make an appearance on this list by the 25th.)
Carol of the Bells with Stephen Colbert & Henry Rollins
If I can be serious for a minute, let's all have a moment of silence in remembrance of Rowdy Roddy Piper.
Christmas Carolling with Roddy Piper