Thursday, 15 December 2016

My Top Ten "Bah, Humbug!" Songs (Volume 1)

Before I get to my Top Five albums of the year... I suppose I better do this. Because it's that time of year again. The time when you can't walk into your local Co-Op without hearing Macca wishing you a Wonderful Time, Elton imploring you to Step Into It and Noddy screaming at the size of his royalty cheque. I'm even getting sick of Shane & Kirsty. And I swear if I hear Chris Rea get into his car one more time...

To counteract that... here's ten less-well-played songs "celebrating" the other side of the season...

(Bonus points if you can identify my celebrity Santa. It's not too difficult.)

10. Matthew Thiessen & The Earthquakes - I Hate Christmas Parties

Matthew Thiessen is the lead singer of Canadian Christian alt-rock band Relient K, so you might imagine he'd be more into the festivities than he actually is. Turns out someone left a broken heart under his tree for him this year. Poor sod.

9. Loudon Wainwright III - I'll Be Killing You This Christmas

What better time of year to take a jab at the second amendment? Good old Loudon.

8. Jim White - Christmas Day

I remember quite clearly, a bad Muzak version of James Taylor's big hit, 
Called "Fire and Rain" was playing as you crouched down and tearfully kissed me, 
And I thought, "Damn, what good fiction I will mold from this terrible pain."
Plus: songwriters are bastards. Don't ever date / dump one. Especially at Christmas.

7. John Prine - Christmas In Prison

One of my favourites from JP. I didn't realise it was as old as it is. 1973? That's just a year younger than me!
It was Christmas in prison and the food was real good
We had turkey and pistols carved out of wood
I dream of her always, even when I don't dream
Her name's on my tongue and her blood's in my strings
6. Everclear - I Will Be Hating You For Christmas

I'll never understood why Everclear weren't massive...

5. Frank Kelly - The Christmas Countdown

Father Jack, before joining the clergy, recorded this alternate version of the 12 Days of Christmas back in the 80s and it was a firm favourite of mine growing up because Terry Wogan used to play it every year. I play it here in tribute to both Frank and Terry, since we lost both of them this year.

4. Jesse Malin - Xmas

There was a time I believed Jesse Malin was the future of rock 'n' roll. Around the time this album, The Fine Art of Self-Desturction was released. I'm still waiting...

3. The Killers - Don't Shoot Me, Santa

The Killers release a new Christmas song every year. They've just compiled them into a collection, Don't Waste Your Wishes, for charity. I would buy this. With money. Unfortunately, they've made it exclusively available on iTunes which means I can't buy it. With money. Because iTunes breaks my computer every time I try to use it and I hate it with a passion. Still.

I do love this one, from a few years back.

2. Spearmint - Oklahoma

The title track to one of my favourite Christmas albums. Shirley Lee's ode to a tragic homeless drunk from his local town who spread the Christmas spirit with his rendition of Rogers & Hammerstein songs. They miss him when he's gone...

1. The Handsome Family - Stupid Bells
Christmas is the season where most folks kill themselves
Christmas is the reason for all those stupid bells!
Leave it to the Handsome Family to give the grinch a run for his money...
Repent sinners!
This pagan holiday full of tree worship and fairy lights is an affront to Jehova!
The candy cane is Satan's walking stick!
Merry Christmas from the Handsome Family!

"Happy" Christmas to you all. What's your favourite not-so-festive Christmas song?


  1. No surprise to see the Handsomes at number one. Acheery bunch whatever the season.
    Can I offer up Better Off Dead with All I Got for Christmas was Drunk

    1. Never heard that before, but it's great.

  2. It's probably too cheerful a ditty to qualify, but the b-side of Greg Lake's 'I Believe in Father Christmas' was actually titled 'Humbug'.

    1. Never heard that before either... I think I'll stick with the A-side.

  3. I hadn't heard that Handsome Family anti-Christmas song before - thank you sooooooooooooooooooooooooo much. Be sure it will be blasting out at my place throughout the "festive season" - JOY!

  4. I'm looking forward to listening to all of these later, but I know it's going to be so good just by your words. We all need to wallow in a little misery at Christmas. And "...songwriters are bastards. Don't ever date/dump one" my god that must be so true and (if you haven't already done one?) a great theme for a top ten.
    Now.... who IS that celebrity Santa?

    1. Shane MacGowan of The Pogues.

      I did do a Top Ten Songs About Songwriters:

      But I suspect the follow-up post, My Top Ten Songs About Songwriting is more what you're looking for, under the circumstances... particularly the Number One.

    2. Thanks!
      And I didn't recognise Shane McGowan in those shoes.

  5. Handsome Family was a nice find. I'll give the others a listen soon.

    The b-side Another Lonely Christmas by Prince (1984) comes to mind if we've talking not-so-festive xmas songs.
    A Winter's Tale by David Essex (1983) is about a relationship, and not about celebrating. It is considered a seasonal classic though, so that might rule it out.

    1. The Prince song is great, I should feature that next year.

      I LOVE A Winter's Tale far more than is right... but yeah, it's probably disqualified on the grounds you mention.

  6. Here's a couple more anti-Christmas songs for you.

    1. Thanks for dropping by and sharing those, Uke. They made me smile.

  7. Another vote for the Handsome Family here. New to me too. I make a holiday mix every year, and it's a must to have a few of these songs from the other side of the tracks on there. Great list, Rol.


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