Welcome to the 2nd Annual Big Media Vandalism Christmas Special. We started this tradition last year, and it features soulful Christmas songs that you can listen to while you're wrapping your presents and waiting for Santa Claus. It's a tradition at my house to crank up tunes like these (and last year's offerings) as I attempt to wrap my presents. The finished product always looks wrapped by an arthritic monkey; at least the recipients know I didn't pay anybody else to do the job.
Last year, I had some of the more familiar choices you might be expecting, so check that out if you haven't already. As far as holiday wishes go, I'll leave you with what I said last year:
Surrey down to our Stone Soul Christmas Picnic and sample our Christmas playlist. Merry Christmas to the Christians, Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish audience, and Happy Kwanzaa to the folks who are Blacker than I'll ever be.
As pennance, I start with a song from a musical I dislike, sung by a woman who wants to kick my ass for prior offenses here at Big Media Vandalism. Miss Ross gets our first spot in the playlist, and deservingly so. Like Coltrane's take, the Supremes' version of Rogers and Hammerstein's My Favorite Things is different and wonderful. I don't know how this became a Christmas staple, but whenever I hear it, I smile, showing the teeth I am sure Miss Ross will one day knock out when she catches up with my Black ass.
2. Please Come Home For Christmas, Charles Brown
You're probably familiar with the Eagles cover of this, a fine version in its own right. But this is the original, and true to its blues origin, it's sadder and more bittersweet. Sad though it may be, it's just perfect for a nice slow dance with the one you love. That is, if he or she has heeded Mr. Brown's musical advice.
3. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Temptations
While nothing can top last year's Temptations choice, Silent Night, this choice is almost as good. This cover has so much soul that one can imagine Rudolph sporting an Afro. I love love love when the guys yell out "HEY RUDOLPH!" The delivery of the lyrics ("c'mon c'mon c'mon c'mon and guide my sleigh tonight") is so much fun you'll want to play it again and again. Not exactly what Gene Autry had in mind, but I doubt he'd complain too much.
4. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, The Jackson Five
Last year, I had Mike and his bros singing what I once thought was called "Give It Up On Christmas Day." Apparently, Ma Dukes must have also thought that was the lyric, for here she is playing tonsil hockey with Jolly Old Saint Nicholas. Instead of leaving out milk and cookies, Santa is getting Mom and nookie. Of course, Santa turns out to be daddy in disguise, which only makes the song creepier. Finding out your parents are into cosplay will scar a kid for life. And speaking of randy Santa Clauses...
5. Back Door Santa, Clarence Carter
This was a special request from last year's show comments. I knew of the song, but I tried to have a G-rated Christmas special in 2011. With the inclusion of this raunchy 1968 number, we might have to run this show on HBO. Sung by the man my mother once referred to as "that nasty blind bastard," Clarence "Strokin" Carter, Back Door Santa is about exactly what you think it is. Santa comes more than once a year, and he leaves his women "sassified" for sure. The horn hook in this song was sampled for Run-DMC's Christmas In Hollis. Speaking of Santa coming to the 'hood...
6. Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto, James Brown
The Godfather of Soul makes a plea for Father Christmas not to forget those less fortunate. Somehow or other, Santa managed to make his way to the ghetto, at least for me. Knowing what I know about Mr. Claus now, all I can say is: Some years, my parents must have had magic wands at their disposal.
Once again, Beat Street's famous Santa Claus rap gets shafted, but as the singer of this song once said "That's the Breaks." Before Run (who called himself "the son of Kustis Blow") and DMC took Santa to Hollis, Blow and his DJ told a funky story about Santa showing up to party and deliver presents. Sometimes Blow's rhymes make you say "WTF?" (A stereu, Kurtis?!!) No matter. Play this loud while you pop and lock.
8. The Christmas Song, Nat King Cole
Mel "The Velvet Fog" Tormé's greatest gift to the world wasn't his 7 million appearances on Night Court. Tormé wrote this holiday classic, here given life by the unforgettable Nat King Cole. How can anyone not like this song? The imagery, and Cole's beautiful presentation of it, could melt even the Grinch's two-sizes-too-small heart. And here's Nat singing it live on his old NBC show. What else can one say about this version other than it is utterly perfect? Not so perfect is that version where Nat's pushy daughter, Natalie, invades this song to "duet" with her late father. This is the musical equivalent of that commercial with Fred Astaire's image dancing with the vacuum cleaner.
9. Someday at Christmas, Stevie Wonder
Last year, I said this song was just too damn depressing to be included, because it made me cry every time I heard it. That was last year. This year, I need to cry. We all do.
10. All I Want For Christmas Is You, Mariah Carey
Truth be told, I was never crazy about this song. At least not until a) I had someone to dedicate it to this year and b) Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, Mrs. Nick Cannon, musical toys and some cute little kids made me love it. Even a cold, calculated cynic such as I could hold no grudge after seeing this performance. When the kids show up, your smile will be bigger than Kool-Aid's. It's the perfect way to end this year's Big Media Vandalism Christmas Special.
Happy Holidays to all!