#999

I have to spend my day writing stuff I get paid for today, so here’s some stuff other people have written that you might like to check out:

Jon over at the Vinyl District is 10 days out from Christmas and not feelin’ it.  This probably won’t help him any: My Hmphs has 10 Bad Versions of Christmas Songs, with some more suggestions from the readership. Not 10 bad songs—because any list like that would have to include “The Christmas Shoes,” which I heard again yesterday and which is the only song in the world capable of  making me wish I were deaf—but 10 bad versions of well-known songs. One of those 10 bad versions is from Bob Dylan’s Christmas album, which has puzzled almost everybody who’s listened to it this year. So The Nation went to Sean Wilentz, the Princeton historian who’s also chief historian at BobDylan.com, for enlightenment. Maybe I’m giving myself too much credit, but Wilentz’ take doesn’t seem vastly different from my own a couple of weeks ago: the album is true to a particular vision, even if the nature of that vision is not readily apparent to us.

Chief historian at BobDylan.con sounds like a pretty cool job. It occurs to me that I’m the chief historian at WNEW.com, although I’ve described the job previously as the old geezer who drops in to remind the kids how great things used to be and to stay the hell off my lawn. I’m writing about another famous rock ‘n’ roll Christmas song over there today—“Please Come Home for Christmas.” Please go read it, and leave a comment, if you’re so inclined. (Unless you’re a spambot. WNEW.com already gets too many comments from them.)

Here’s the full list of linkage to my Christmas song posts so far:
“Step Into Christmas”
“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”
“Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town”
“Do They Know It’s Christmas”

I played “Do They Know It’s Christmas” on the radio yesterday. I’ve never been particularly fond of it—strictly as music, it’s terribly unappealing, from the ugly, tuneless way it begins through the unappetizing verse, which is capped with Bono’s “Tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.” Only after that—on the chorus—does the thing take flight at all.

Bono’s line, by the way, has always seemed callous to me. I posted that thought as my Facebook status yesterday, and a few of my friends weighed in. A couple suggested that it’s another way of saying “”there but for the grace of God go I.” Perhaps, but the more I think about the line, the more it bugs me. As another of my Facebook friends observed, “Thank goodness those poor brown people can count on some noble Western pop stars to make sure they ‘know it’s Christmastime.'” I wonder if maybe some of the critics of Band Aid had it right—that the effort was as much about celebrity self-aggrandizement as it was helping the starving. It’s certainly possible to hear Bono’s impassioned delivery of his questionable line as precisely that.

OK, if I don’t want to end up among the starving myself, I gotta get back to work. Coming tomorrow: The 1000th post in the history of this blog.

2 thoughts on “#999

  1. Yah Shure

    You mean the 999 reference isn’t going to lead to a link to purchase a complete remastering of the blog’s catalog? Dang. I was all set to order the mono box, so I could read your earliest posts for the first time without that hard left/right panning. Oh, well… ;)

    Happy 999th and beyond!

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