A box of Christmas Crackers.

As promised, here are the rest of my 2022 Christmas Songbook selections for your post-Christmas enjoyment. (C’mon, we can still enjoy these until Epiphany, right?) Minimal commentary, because we’re here for the music, right? So let’s get right into it!

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The Christmas Shoes – FM Static

I think I have exhaustively explained my extreme dislike for Newsong’s hit “The Christmas Shoes.” But as I stated on my “Terrible to Bearable” post back in 2018, FM Static’s version is less awful. So there you go. If you’re a fan of the original, maybe you’ll enjoy the remake. If you hate the original, maybe you’ll hate this less.

Joy to the World – The O.C. Supertones

I just heard this version recently, and man, I love me some Supertones. That’s all.

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas – Gayla Peevey

It’s terrible, but I love singing along and cheesing it up as much as possible. So sue me. Bless that little girl’s Ethel-Merman-sounding heart.

I Hate Christmas Parties – Relient K

It’s an unbelievably emo Christmas song, and I kinda love it, even if I’m long past my “sad emo boy” phase.

Tennessee Christmas – Amy Grant

This song is forever linked to Christmas for me. I remember my parents playing the vinyl album (and later the cassette) of this record every year. The cover art of Amy in her patterned Christmas sweater with the snowy backdrop is as indelibly burned into my brain as Mariah Carey’s red snowsuit (though obviously for different reasons). Anyway, this is a great track and a Christmas classic.

White Christmas – Bing Crosby

I love this movie, thanks to my wife. And as such, I love this song. Here’s the big finish, and it’s gorgeous.

You Gotta Get Up – Rich Mullins

Any excuse to put Rich Mullins on a list, I’ll take it. This song is great, the album it comes from (A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band) is one of my all-time favorite Christian albums, and the vibe just makes me smile.

I Celebrate the Day – Relient K

Okay, a lot of Relient K on this list, but their Christmas album (Let It Snow, Baby, Let it Reindeer) is pretty much in constant rotation at my house each year. And whatever their current trajectory, this song is worshipful and well done.

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Right, I believe that catches us up. So what now?

I’ll post maybe 1 or 2 more times this week, and then starting next week, my 2023 posting schedule will be probably something like Mondays and Fridays. Maybe I’ll try another posting-every-day streak again in the fall, but for now, let’s set our expectations a bit lower.

I have to say though, I’m proud of myself for posting over 100 times since September 1st. That’s a big deal for me. While I know that the quality of posts has certainly varied, the goal for me was just to publish as much as possible and stretch these neglected muscles. I’m glad to say I’ve started doing that. This month got a bit too busy to do that on a daily clip, but I’m still way ahead of where I was even a year ago in terms of post frequency.

Looking ahead, I’ll definitely be shifting to “less often, but better written” goal. I don’t want to just churn out junk and get random hits. For your sake, dear reader, and for mine, next year will be about going a bit deeper and giving you a better return for your time and attention. All the same, I hope you’ve enjoyed this year’s posts. I have enjoyed the challenge.

Check back Friday for a post about the books I’ve read this year (spoiler: not nearly as many as I would have liked).

Packing up my Christmas leftovers…

Hi friends.

I did indeed have posts planned for the last ten-plus days to close out the Christmas Songbook well, but there was more to do than I expected, and I had to choose the necessary things.

Since today is Boxing Day, I’m packing up my leftover Christmas goodies for you to enjoy once more, but that will have to wait one more day. Don’t worry, they’re like fruitcake; they never go bad!

All that to say, I’ll have a few more posts for you this week. Stay tuned. And a belated Happy Christmas to you and yours!

Can’t think of a better way to end the post than this:

Christmas Songbook Day 15*: “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime” by Sir Paul.

You need to watch the video in its entirety for this to make sense.

This song landed on my “Eggnog” list when I went through my top-five beloved, hated, “eggnog” (guilty pleasure), and “terrible to bearable” lists of Christmas songs back in 2014.

The original is still on my “Eggnog” list. It’s weird but I kinda love it. If there were an Island of Misfit Christmas Songs, this track would be voted President for Life.

Where to begin? The juxtaposition of Doctor Who-style synthesizer with jingle bells? The weird constellation person? The fact that the constellation person suddenly summoned a party of people dancing and drinking and singing along with a charismatic central figure who’s the focus of the…

This is “Must Be Santa” all over again, isn’t it?

Paul McCartney appears via cosmic magic (?) and starts the party in that older couple’s living room. Everyone’s going nuts, including the previously staid house owners. As he’s singing, suddenly you see that Paul (or his doppelganger!) is singing simultaneously on the television, and we are transported to that jam session. Everyone’s face is stretched with a sort of manic glee. It’s clearly sorcery.

So the question we must ask: Are Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan both Christmas wizards? Are they aware of each other? Are they IN LEAGUE with each other? Are they different classes/degrees of wizard, like Gandalf and Radagast? Or is it more like Gandalf and Saruman, since Dylan seems more chaotic and reckless, while McCartney is more playful?

Also, SPACE KEYBOARD HANDS! STAR PEOPLE SINGING! FLYING LIGHT ORBS! A HORSE! IN SPACE!

I mean, the revelers are dancing around a bonfire singing, and at one point, Paul is singing back and forth with a doppelganger. There are angels leaving Christmas graffiti on walls. It’s pretty much a fever dream. (Come to think of it, the pre-roll ad that YT assigned to this song was for a chewable supplement that was made using that wacky tobaccky, so draw your own conclusions.)

I gotta admit, though, Paul’s bowler-and-scarf combo are pretty snazzy (and vaguely Tom-Baker-ish).

Bottomline: The video is wild, the song is an inane puff of peppermint cotton candy, and I don’t care. I’m simply having a wonderful Christmastime, too.

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All of that said, here’s a fantastic version of the song, featuring another great scarf:

Christmas Songbook Day 14*: “Little Drummer Boy”

Let’s start off with the baseline: on its own, when performed in a traditional, choral way, this song gets on my nerves.

The droning bass part of either “Drum, drum, drum, drum” or “pum, pum, pum, pum.” The dragging tempo. The tediousness of the lyric. I just don’t care for it in its basic/classic form.

That said, I don’t hate the idea of the song, so I’m down with versions that change things up. So, here are some of the versions I enjoy the most or have discovered recently that I dig:

Bowie and Bing’s Duet is classic TV and I don’t acknowledge the parody

The pre-song patter is sometimes considered cheesy and unnecessary, but it seems fitting for an era of musical/variety television, so it’s a nice time-capsule of that moment. And I legitimately love the weaving of the two melodies by two master vocalists. I’ll find myself suddenly humming the Bowie part as I’m going through my day. This clip is wholesome and I love it.

For King And Country, because of course

It’s a song about a drummer. It’s practically an international crime not to include these drum-centric songsters. The cinematic nature of the music video is also pretty rad.

Johnny Cash sets his own tempo, you hear me?

It’s so strange, but I still dig it. All the extraneous “pa-rum-pum-pums” are gone, the whole thing’s a little off-kilter, and the image of the little drummer boy opening his mouth to speak and Cash’s voice coming out is just bonkers, and I love it.

ETW – Drummer Boy (from Yo Ho Ho)

Okay, here’s the deal: I love this track for many reasons, but 3 come to mind immediately: 1) You have that nice harmony on the initial chorus, giving you a little Boyz II Men throwback vibe; 2) Once the beat drops, you can clearly hear some Run-DMC influence; and 3) there are a ton of samples from my favorite (and arguably, the best) Christmas movie of all time, It’s a Wonderful Life. While the title track of the album is a lot of fun, I think this one is actually the star at the top of the early-90’s CHH tree.

Christmas Songbook Day 13*: “Yo Ho Ho!” by DC Talk

Travel back in time with me to the long-forgotten era of 1990.

The US was on the precipice of war with Iraq in Kuwait. Cheers, Roseanne, and A Different World dominated the TV airwaves. And somewhere in the great state of Texas, little 4thDave was in 4th or 5th grade, discovering Christian Hip Hop for the first time right around Easter.

My favorite cassette tapes on constant rotation were DC Talk’s self-titled debut album and Nu Thang. I was getting into fellow Forefront Records artists ETW (End Time Warriors). (This would be the extent of my childhood rebellion until my high school years when I was smuggling mixtapes into the house with Collective Soul and the Cranberries on it.)

My parents didn’t get my fascination with hip-hop but, according to my mother, “at least it’s not the Beastie Boys,” which were her reference point for secular rap. (Not that I think she could even name one BB track, because she certainly never ch-ch-checked it out.)

So, imagine when to my wondering eyes did appear a Christmas album heavily featuring my two new favorite hip-hop groups. Enter Yo Ho Ho.

I love this album cover. And yes, I still have the functioning cassette tape.

I should let the song just speak for itself, but I want to highlight just a few key things:

  • Dig that pure late-80’s drum-machine and synthesizer beat. I mean, I’m *thisclose* to breaking out in some Cabbage Patch or Kid-n-Play steps. This was the era of “fun” hip-hop and Fresh Prince, right?
  • I appreciated that DC Talk was explicitly Christian in their lyrics. I mean, they always were to some extent, but there’s just no embarrassment about it in their early stuff.
  • The ad-libs! So many ad-libs!
  • The breakdown when the drums fade out, and it’s just the vocals and the synth. Love it.
  • The “little drummer boy” call-out at the end before the fade-out is actually a teaser of the next track (and our next entry in the songbook!).

So, without further ado, let’s keep this party going with one more track from this musical masterpiece.

Well…stink.

Missed my window to post today, and it’s now past midnight. I’m not gonna cheat and backdate a post I’m not even starting until the next day, so my posting streak ends here. Oh well.

I’m just under the gun in a lot of ways right now, gang. I have a list of posts to write in this #ChristmasSongbook series, but at the moment, my holly-jolly is being swallowed up in a sea of not-so-fun responsibilities.

At this point, I may not even be able to put together a Wednesday post, so you’ll just get a stack of music posts at some point a bit later in the week. Hope that’s okay.

In the meantime, here’s a fitting send-off for missing my (self-imposed) blog deadline.

Christmas Songbook Day 11: “Mary, Did You Know?”

Hey friends, quick post today, something different.

I had the privilege of preaching at our church this morning. My text for the day is Luke 1:26-56. My sermon title was the song’s title.

Here’s the video of the morning service, including our worship team’s cover of the song. I hope the service and sermon are an encouragement for you. If you watch it and have questions or comments, feel free to share those below!

Thanks for reading and watching. See you tomorrow!

Christmas Songbook Day 10: “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” by Thurl Ravenscroft

Alternate title for this post: “Sympathy for the Grinch (Hoo, hoo)”

Let’s be honest: Grinches aren’t always born; sometimes they’re made.

In college, I used to say that this was one of my favorite Christmas songs. I think that was just my 20-year-old edginess coming to the fore. I did always enjoy the Grinch TV special, though. But this year, as I heard this track while driving somewhere, I was struck with an alarming realization.

The song’s lyrics are bitingly cruel, such that anyone on the receiving end of such a barrage is almost assured to turn to villainy.

Consider what the Grinch is called by the narrator during this theme: a mean one, a heel, cuddly as a cactus, charming as an eel, bad banana (with a greasy black peel), monster, heartless, brain full of spiders, soul of garlic, untouchable, foul, ugly termite-ridden smile, disposition of a sea-sick crocodile but less desirable, rotter, king of sinful sots, dead/rotten heart, disgusting and poisonous, foul, nasty, stinky, gunk in the soul, stink-stank-stunk.

The Grinch is laid low by this litany BEFORE HE DOES ANYTHING BAD in the special. When we first see him, the Grinch isn’t harming anyone. He’s just an introvert, a somewhat-cynical hermit, living with a devoted and (by all appearances) well-cared-for pet. He just wants to be left alone. But the Whos fill the valley with their noise-noise-noise, and the sad, lonely, unwanted Grinch finally snaps.

I would propose, dear reader, that while the Grinch is clearly guilty of B/E and burglary, he is not a violent offender but rather the victim of a constant barrage of emotional mistreatment by both his thoughtless neighbors and a heartless narrator who seeks to prejudice the opinion of the TV special’s audience with an opening song that is not just well-poisoning but outright slanderous.

We assume that the Grinch is all these things that the narrator describes because we are conditioned to trust the omnipresent, all-knowing baritone voice in our heads telling us what the characters are thinking.

But can we trust this narrator? Hmm? More importantly, SHOULD we?

These are the hard questions we need to ask, friends.

In the meantime, I have just one final statement: JUSTICE FOR THE GRINCH! DOWN WITH NARRATIVE TYRANNY!

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Nevertheless, Sixpence None the Richer’s version of this track is a banger, so here ya go:

Christmas Songbook Day 9: “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey

The OG version. Keep your Biebers away from this song.

Yep, we’re doing this.

So I’m pretty sure I remember exactly where I was when I first heard this song. It was November/December 1994. I was sleeping over at a friend’s house. In the morning, over breakfast, I listened to his younger sister and her best friend (whom I would later have a bit of a crush on) obsessing over Mariah Carey’s new Christmas album. I was admittedly more intrigued by the album artwork, because I was a 14-year-old boy in need of sanctification.

Over that Christmas and the next, every time I heard this song, I would think about that girl (the sister’s friend) whom I grew to admire from a distance and only got the courage to ask out once (to Homecoming–about a day after someone else asked her out). I will admit, to my great embarrassment, that no small amount of overwrought poetry was written in her honor.

The lyrics of this song are saccharine-sweet, pure teenage exuberance — essentially, I don’t want presents or treats or toys, I just want you, you would make my Christmas wish come true, oh baby baby baby. (I guess it makes sense that Justin Bieber eventually intruded into this song.)

I can imagine that Mariah Carey eventually got tired of singing this song for 30 years. (Or maybe not. Let’s be real, the royalties off this track alone have probably set her up for life financially.) I doubt anyone (Carey included) anticipated that it would become a cultural touchstone during the Christmas season, both deeply loved and also much maligned.

Personally, I don’t get why the track inspires the vitriol it sometimes does. Of course, it’s cheesy; so is “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” and you don’t see people freak out when Little Michael and his brothers start belting that out.

Maybe I’m just prone to enjoy cheesy music more than the average person. The whole “Whampocalypse” thing makes me chuckle, too, because “Last Christmas” is obviously silly and shallow but I’m not going to get mad about it. (There are only a few Christmas songs that really get under my skin; and yes, Michael, I am going to address that particular one before the month’s out.)

So hey, if you love the Mariah Carey track, or if you hate it, you have to at least acknowledge that it’s super catchy, it’s easily singable, and it’s got a degree of timeless wholesomeness that has kept it around for the last 3 decades.

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Since you know how much I adore unique covers, I’ll leave you with two for this song.

The first, by (4thDaveBlog favorite) Alex Melton, plays up the overwrought emotion with an emo-pop-punk take on the track:

And the second, from the criminally under-appreciated Jamie Cullum, brings a jazzy playfulness to the song that I really love: