23 December 2010

A Whoopee in Hell Christmas, Redux

Once upon a time, not long ago, when people wore pajamas and lived life slow, we used to post mixes on this blog. The most popular of them was the 2008 Christmas mix I made from tunes I'd scraped from across the blogosphere--nothing traditional, but soul, blues, country, indie rock, and hip-hop. In the spirit of Christmas (and because we're a day or two behind on our reviews, what with Christmas travel), I'd like to post (a slightly updated version of) that mix, along with a much revised version of the text that accompanied it.

I've lived in the Upper Midwest most of my life, and what I've missed most these last few Christmas, in California and Texas with my wife, or even worse, sitting on the knife edge of the quickly approaching Sahara Desert in Nigeria, was the snow and cold. Obviously, apartment living helps--I haven't shoveled a meaningful amount of snow in three years. But today, I'm back in the Upper Midwest, at the parents' house, looking out on some light drifting, and feeling the sharp bite of the cold when I go out. I'm not much for Christmas--frankly, it's a holiday that has little meaning for me, now that I'm grown and in that liminal space between being my parents' son and having my own family--but I do love winter.

As such, we begin this mix with the Rev. A. W. Nix, who has a depression-era message of Christmas warmth--the kind that you feel deep down up in your bones from sidling up next to Satan.
Having gotten our priorities and our souls right with God, we're able to get down to our sexy, funky business. While I love a great pop song more than the next guy ("Baby Jesus, born to rock!" is E's Christmas manifesto on track two), my highlights are the blues and soul songs, particularly Sonny Boy Williamson II's message of Christmas materialism (blues singers almost inevitably call St. Nick "Santy Claus," which is fine by us), and of course Clarence Carter's loverman "Backdoor Santa," who looks ridiculous but still cuckolds you Christmas morning--"he don't come but once a year," if you get his drift.

Also, some of you may recognize the lead singer of Adam's House Cat as the Drive-By Truckers' Patterson Hood. He and guitar hero Mike Cooley were singing about smack-addled Santas long before writing the "Southern Rock Opera." And we end, naturally, with some spoken-word recollections my Mr. Johnny Cash, from his 1963 Columbia album, "The Christmas Spirit":

Christmas came, and Christmas went,
Christmas that year was heaven-sent.

And my daddy put on his rubber boots
and faced the floor, waitin' for the thaw,
back home in Dyess, Arkansas

A Whoopee in Hell Christmas, Redux

1) How Will You Spend Christmas - Rev. A.W. Nix
2) Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas - Eels
3) Christmas With the Devil - Spinal Tap
4) There ain't no Santa Claus on the Evenin' Stage - Captain Beefheart
5) Christmas Feeling Ska - Toots & the Maytals
6) Poor Mr. Santa - Andre Williams
7) Santa Claus - Sonny Boy Williamson
8) Backdoor Santa - Clarence Carter
9) Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin' - Albert King
10) Christmas Celebration - B.B. King
11) This Christmas - Donny Hathaway
12) I Hear Jingle Bells - Freddie King
13) Who Took The Merry Out Of Christmas - The Staple Singers
14) Lonely This Christmas - Lucky Soul
15) Christmas Time is Here - Mayer Hawthorne
16) Christmas '83 - Centro-matic
17) Listening To Otis Redding At Home on Christmas Day - Okkervil River
18) Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis - Neko Case
19) Grateful for Christmas - Hayes Carll
20) Merry Christmas from the Family - Robert Earl Keen
21) Too Much Wine - The Handsome Family
22) Christmas is for Losers - Mike Nicolai
23) Here It Is Christmas - The Old 97's
24) Jesus Christ - Big Star
25) The Christmas Song - Weezer
26) Sometimes You Have To Work On Christmas - Harvey Danger
27) A Poundland Christmas - Wild Billy Childish & The Musicians of the British Empire
28) Christmas In Baghdad - Black Lips
29) Christmas Lullaby - Cary Grant
30) Santa's Out of Rehab by Christmas - Adam's House Cat
31) Merry Christmas Baby - The BellRays
32) Jingle Bells (Dan The Automator Remix) - Dean Martin
33) Thank God It's Not Christmas - Parenthetical Girls
34) Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa - De La Soul
35) Christmas in Harlem - Kanye West
36) My Christmas Bells - Hard Call Christmas (Peanut Butter Wolf)
37) Jingle Bells - Ice-T
38) Santa Claus is Sometimes Brown - El Vez
39) Please Come
Home For Christmas - Charles Brown
40) Santa Claus' Daughter - Charlie Rich
41) They Shined Up Rudolph's Nose - Johnny Horton
42) Lonesome Christmas (Part 1) - Lowell Fulson
43) Silent Night - Tom Waits
44) Christmas As I Knew It - Johnny Cash

part 1 (tracks 1-20) here
part 2 (tracks 21-44) here


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