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Christmas

Have an Existential Christmas (Circa 1965)

Yessir there’s plenty of Christmas pop and rockers, do-wop-a-doers, and soul twisters. They never stop coming, every year brings more remakes and holiday pastiches and original turns, a few good uns too; the rock and pop Christmas tune never going out of sight or out of style. Had a million different favorites myself, liked ‘em serious, solemn, sexy, soulful, antic, blasphemous, tawny, jazzy, woeful, sarcastic, folkifized, solo Beatle, real Beatle, Beatle-like, corny, powerpoppish, reflective, heartfelt, satirical, rebellious, preachy, old school, trad, subversive, and even sweet.

   Right now, today, this December, my current absolute fave rave, the one spinning repeatedly on my internal holiday season turntable, the current Tops of the Christmas Pops is The Sonics 1965 “Santa Claus.” It’s a propulsive and molten stomp all over the still ruddy cheeked Santa archetype, a plaintive holiday yelp with a backbeat (signaling “Farmer John”) where the lead vocalist (with a truly glorious garage rock  guttural howl) asks Santa for no more than “a brand new car, a twangy guitar and a cute little honey with lots of money.” The cool daddy holiday surprise is that this early 60’s version of Santa lays the shattering truth on the entitled-mondo- boot-wearing-rebel-with-a-bleat–it’s-always-about-me-shaking-my-hair-budding-protest –kid  with a stark indifference, as the dumbfounded singer exclaims in the chorus:

“And he just say nothing,

Nothing

Nothing

Nothing

Nothing

Nothing

Nothing

Nothing”



MERRY DYLAN

Old? Than the hills. Cagey? Could give Dick Cheney a run. Torn and frayed? Like a beaten up circus dog. Moves left? Bill Belichick couldn’t come up with a defense. Our collective (and still surviving) cultural bellwether Bobby D, Mr. Tambourine Man, Huckleberry Zimmerman has hooked left, faded right, gone up the middle,  scrambled around, thrown to the sidelines, flee-flickered, even tossed a few away while always mutating and forever changing from poet provocateur to white-faced song and dance man, from fresh-faced cowpoke to the ghost of Hank Snow, from lingerie salesman to wheezy-voiced carnival barker, with enough sideways traipsing and off-route detouring to last a bunch of careers. And now, Bob Dylan’s got a Christmas album.
bob dylan wearing santa hat
   Makes perfect sense, really. Yet another almost straight-faced exploration of pop songwriting roots with the attendant wrinkles emanating from that old weird America, yet another idiom accessed, yet another mixed-up, shook-up persona (Bing Crosby meets Doug Sahm over cocktails with Sammy Cahn).