I love the holiday season through and through. I loved Christmas as a kid, and am a sucker for every sappy, sentimental, saccharine moment of the holidays to this day. But not even the power of Christmas can fully rid me of the left-of-center, transgressive part of my personality. The part of me that considers A Nightmare Before Christmas to be a Christmas movie. The part of me that thinks Krampus needs to be a part of Christmas again. And the part of me that likes to throw in some odd choices into my Christmas song mixtape. Songs that involve Christmas, but don't quite seem to fit into the festive holiday mood. Except, perhaps, to me.
So here are my five top unconventional X-mas songs:
5. Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis - Tom Waits
There is no mention of Christmas in the lyrics, and it's the title that gives the lyrics their meaning. That, and the cynical tone of the lyrics--a theme you're gonna see a lot of on this list--pretty much guarantees you won't be hearing the Muzak version of this song in an elevator during the holidays any time soon. But this is Tom Waits, people. How can you not love this song? It is the combination of nuanced lyrics and Waits' unique vocal style that makes this one of my holiday favorites.
4. Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses
This is one of those songs that you will, on occasion, hear played on the radio. It makes me wonder if those program directors took the time to listen to the lyrics, or if they were distracted by all the Merry Christmases in the chorus. Well, the song ends on a happy note, and isn't that Christmas enough?
3. A Christmas Carol - Tom Lehrer
There is no subtly in this song, boy. Like a lot of his music, Lehrer wears his cynicism on his sleeve and keeps tongue planted firmly in cheek with this take on the holidays. He's not charitable, but he also ain't wrong.
2. Same Old Lang Syne - Dan Fogelberg
This is one of those bittersweet songs that used to play regularly on the radio, and I'm old enough to remember those days. I always get nostalgic when I hear that song, apropos given the lyrics. Sometimes we remember the good times; sometimes, the regret. Sometimes, it's all one and the same.
1. Fairytale of New York - The Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl
If the last song was about regrets and what could have been, this one is about what never should have been. Although this song is about a couple brought together by foolish dreams, and perhaps they would have been better off never getting together, by the end of the song we still see their bonds amidst the wreckage. As a long-time fan of the Pogues, I never get tired of listening to Fairytale of New York.
Honorable Mention: Santa Claus and His Old Lady - Cheech & Chong
Not a song, but still a favorite of mine around the holidays. Until you've heard Cheech Marin explain it, you really don't know Santa. Or his old lady.