How The Walkmen Saved Christmas

December 1, 2005 at 8:50 am (Uncategorized)

It is becoming a pressure thing.

Four years ago, rather than send out plain old ordinary Christmas Cards (ok, not necessarily ordinary–I went with the Addam’s Family Collection) I decided to record a CD of holiday favorites and sent them out. I added a few folks from some website forums I follow frequently as well. It was fun. It didn’t feel like it’d become a chore.

Three years ago, determined to actually get everyone on my Christmas Card list a copy, I sent them all out again. Well. You can imagine how the 10 or so folks who got a Christmas CD the year before reacted: “Dude–this is the same mix as last year!”

So. Last year. New mix entirely. Still hosting it for the time being here. I *really* like last year’s stuff. Really. Especially the intro and outro, since the Peanuts theme allows me to pretend that I’m ironic and deep, while hiding the fact of the matter, that I’m an utter sentimental dork who gets teary-eyed from nostalgia at the intro credits for “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” every damn year.

And that brings us to this year. I had the last two days off from work, my last two days off before 9 days in a row in the holidays. (I predict that by my next day off, I’m gonna look like Herbert Lom at the end of a Pink Panther movie, straitjacket and all. ) I was thinking of using what spare time I could grab on my little “weekend” by doing a quick Holiday Mix CD for this year.

…and, determined to avoid repeats as much as possible, I ran smack into a wall. There’s a lot of Christmas-themed music out there by modern artists. The dirty dark secret of it all: most of it sucks.

A new holiday mix seemed like a chore the more and more I looked into it. Finally, late yesterday, I made the decision not to do a new one this year. Next year, maybe. This year? Nah. Too tough. Not fun.

So anyway. Tonight I finally found some free time and booted up a game of Civ 4. One of the coolest things about this game is that it lets you play music from your own .mp3’s. I set it to play in my music folder, and every game I play I hear stuff that I’d totally forgotten about, stuff I didn’t remember I had, you know how it goes.

And so tonight I’m playing and I hear the remarkable and strikingly beautiful song from the Walkmen, “Summer Stage”. (Think you haven’t heard the Walkmen? If you watch TV, you have; at least two of their songs have found their way into national ad campaigns.) Scrambling to remember the song (and I think it was in my music folder because Morton had suggested it for the July mix disc back when), I stumbled onto the fact that the Walkmen have a number of Christmas-possible songs for a mix. Huh.

Energized, I start doing some searching on that intarweb thing the kids talk so much about nowadays. I find some good stuff. Then I find some really good tunes. Then I find a couple of songs that stop me totally in my tracks and make me play them again and again. Then I find a few more. The songs I’d checked into from The Walkmen probably aren’t going to work in the context I want for my holiday mix, but that’s ok. I’m still totally digging them and in total rediscover mode (they really are Our U2.)

The upshot of all this? I suddenly find myself feeling like Uncle Ebeneezer waking up to find that the Prized Goose is still hanging in the window down the street. I’ve got at least 10-12 new tracks that are “definites” for Holiday Mix ’05, and that’s a good thing. There will always be some old favorites that appear perenially in the mix. Get used to it. For me it isn’t Christmas until Kirsty MacColl has called Shane MacGowan a scumbag, a maggot, and a cheap lousy faggot; “Fairytale of New York” is always gonna be on there, and that’s how it is. Anyway, just an update. I probably won’t get them out to those of you whom I exchange cards with for a while yet, but I’ll have a downloadable version up here soon, hopefully.

Hope you’re all in good cheer and happy and healthy!

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