Dec 082008

The RTH Xmas record is the 15 best Xmas songs as nominated by you: the villagers of Rock Town Hall.

Here are the rules: You nominate a song for inclusion. The moment another villager seconds your vote, it’s in. We keep going until we have 15. This becomes the Official (Mod? [Mod – Why not, provided my favorite rockin’ Xmas song is included?]) Rock Town Hall Xmas Album.

This process should leave us with a pretty great mix tape or iPod playlist to pair with a single malt and drown out the shrill caroling of crazy Aunt Bea from Winnipeg.

I am going to start us off with a song I think should have no trouble at all being seconded; “Fairytale of New York,” by The Pogues.


  62 Responses to “The Rock Town Hall Xmas Record”

  1. diskojoe

    I will second “Fairytale of NY” & will submit “Father Christmas” by the Kinks for nomination.

  2. I second “Father Christmas” and will submit “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by John Cale.

  3. mockcarr

    Christmas in Suburbia by Martin Newell

  4. BigSteve

    Most of Phil Spector’s Christmas Record is pretty cheesy, but Darlene Love’s Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) is awesome.

  5. BigSteve, I happily second that one. I will third “Father Christmas”. Let’s see about adding “Jesus Christ” by Big Star…


  6. Mr. Moderator

    Because “Father Christmas” has been thirded (no less) this album may continue.

    I second “Christmas in Suburbia”!

  7. alexmagic

    I don’t expect to get a seconding on this one in particular, but I’m thowing James Brown – Let’s Make Christmas Mean Something This Year our there. JB doing some sincere spoken word/vamping around female backups singing the title phrase. Works for me every year.

  8. Charles Brown – Please Come Home For Christmas

    That one might be my favorite (next to Father Christmas, of course).

  9. hrrundivbakshi

    Alex: sorry, I can’t go for “Let’s make Christmas…” — especially when one of *my* fave JB Christmas tunes is still available: “Go Power at Christmas Time.” Heck, for that matter, the wonderful “Santa Claus (Go Straight To the Ghetto)” is vastly preferable, in my book.

    But since I don’t expect seconds for either of those, I’m going to nominate Elvis’ excellent “Santa Claus Is Back In Town.”

    And can I just vent on something? I’m not a practicing Christian; nor am I one of those paranoid politico-fundie types who’s terrified of the erosion of Christian content in the holiday season. But I *hate* the “X-mas” shorthand. You can call it “the holidays,” or you can get more specific and call it “Christmas,” if that’s what you’re celebrating. But “X-mas” just seems like such a cop-out to me. Why “X,” anyway?

  10. the Waitresses “Christmas Wrapping”
    Graham Parker “Christmas is for Mugs”
    “Soul Christmas”
    I don’t expect to get these seconded, but I like them)
    Jill Sobule “Jesus is a Dreidel Spinner” (ditto)
    Descendents “Christmas Vacations”
    RUN DMC “Christmas in Hollis”
    The Beach Boys “Little St. Nick”
    Squeeze “Christmas Day”

    I also second Big Star’s “Jesus Christ” and third (or is it fourth) the inclusion of “Fairytale of New York” (best Xmas song ever) and “Father Christmas”.

  11. 2000 Man

    I’ll jump on the sleigh for The Pogues, too. That should probably be the last song on the album.

    I know the classic rock stations will play the crap out of it, but I really like 2000 Miles by The Pretenders. I also nominate Christmastime Is Here by The Vince Guaraldi Trio. It’s not xmas without that.

    The “x” is short for “christ,” HVB. I never new why it wasn’t a “t,” but I’ve seen Christian abbreviated as xian for a long time. I think it’s supposed to be slightly derogatory.

  12. mockcarr

    Christmas by the Who
    2000 Miles by the Pretenders
    live cover of White Christmas by Stiff Little Fingers

  13. mockcarr

    I second 2000 miles, I suppose.

  14. I second 2000 Miles even though it’s only nominally about Christmas. Beautiful song.

    I would also like to second Charles Brown’s “Please Come Home For Christmas”. I’d like to but will refrain since I nominated it in the first place. Now who else is going to step up for CB?

  15. I’ll second Big E’s “Santa Claus”.

    To me, there are three essential rock Christmas records: Elvis, Beach Boys, and Phil Spector. There’s lots of tunes (like “Father Christmas”), but those are the complete albums for me.

    While I love the Charlie Brown Christmas special, I can’t send the Guraldi tune based on the notion that we’re making a rock n’ roll album. But, that record is one of my essential Christmas albums.


  16. BigSteve

    I totally second Charles Brown’s Please Come Home for Christmas (sometimes known by its first line “bells will be ringing”). Merry Christmas Baby is possibly better known as Brown’s seasonal favorite (Elvis recorded it), but we have to totally ignore the fact that both the Eagles and Bon Jovi have covered Please Come Home For Christmas.

    Elvis’ Blue Christmas anyone?

    And btw the reason for the X in Xmas is that the first letter in the Greek spelling of Christ, or Christos, is a ‘chi,’ in other words an X. The Jesuits that educated me commonly abbreviated Christ to ‘X’ or ‘Xt.’ It is not derogatory, and the tradition of using this abbreviation goes back for centuries.

  17. I nominate Warren Zevon’s “Sentimental Hygiene” LP in its entirety -the ultimate soundtrack for the Christmas holidays.

    E. Pluribus

  18. Mr. Moderator

    I love Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” – seconded!

    Hrrundi, Jesus died on the cross so that Northvancoveman could use that X. Sorry, that was probably a tasteless joke. I could say that Northvancovemen posted this piece via text message, but that would definitely be a lame joke. As an old fart I thought about putting “Christ” in the post, but then I figured I’d like NVC use his own terminology. I should always be so laid back, right? 🙂

  19. Mr. Moderator

    Gergs, funny you should mention that Zevon album. Do you know it? I just picked up a copy. I plan on writing it up later today, if I can get the time.

  20. Almost halfway there. Here are the songs that have been nominated and gotten the nod:

    1. “Fairytale of New York”, The Pogues
    2. “Father Christmas”, The Kinks
    3. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” Darlene Love
    4. “Christmas in Suburbia”, Martin Newell
    5. “2000 Miles”, The Pretenders
    6. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, Elvis
    7. “Please Come Home for Christmas”, Charles Brown

  21. Sorry Two more:

    8. “Jesus Christ” Big Star
    9. “Blue Christmas” Elvis

  22. Thank you Big Steve. I knew you were going to have my back on that one.

    Now, how about:
    Sleigh Ride by the Ventures
    Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee

  23. Mod, at the risk of..ah screw it, I doubt anyone is as much of a Warren Zevon freak as I am here. Presently I have a beautifully framed Zevon Goes Gold notice by my bed, a backstage pass around my bedside lamp, the Crystal Zevon book below it and every Zevon record on vinyl in my home office.

    That said, “Sentimental Hygiene” is the comeback record everyone would wish for from a washed up genius who “drank vodka out of a silver boot” for breakfast.

    Bonus info: local Vancouver popsters “The Odds” opened for and served as Warren’s backup band on a tour and have some hilarious stories, including one on the wrath of stealing a rehabbing Warren’s diet coke when he was on the tour bus.

    I don’t know if I would throw “Sentimental Hygiene” on at Christmas though…

  24. John Lennon – Happy Xmas (War is Over)

  25. Mr. Moderator

    I hereby second “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” thereby verifying Northvancoveman’s choice of abbreviation!

  26. Re: Zevon LP. Do I know it?

    Of course I know it. A lot of people can’t handle it because it’s such a brutally honest piece of work. I’m surprised you’re not familiar with it. I actually own a boot of outtakes from those sessions called “Emotional Mascara”. It’s on Toasted. Rare as hell, but well worth the 100 bucks I plunked down for it. I’ll bring it over next time I bring the gang for a visit. Just do me a favor, get familiar with “Hygiene” beforehand. Ever see “Heart of Darkness”? The Copolla documentary about “Apocalypse Now”? Which was actually a hell of a lot more interesting than “Apocalypse”? “Mascara” provides a similar eye opening experience.

    Talk to ya soon,
    E. Pluribus

  27. Mod, if Xmas was good enough for John Lennon, it’s good enough for me. Actually it was just laziness. We just don’t care as much about these things in the Godless socialist frozen North.

    Anyway, when we get 15 songs I am going to ask Mod to put them in order. To get a consensus from the floor on that would be impossible.

  28. Mr. Moderator

    Now I’m looking forward to the 20th more than EVER, Gergs! Make sure you pack that boot, and see if you can remember my Hungarian novel while you’re at it, the one with the two old war friends meeting up in old age. Thanks!

  29. Now that’s a great book! Although, I forget most of what it was about, I do remember that it epitomized your style of logistical justification.

    Man, you’re gonna love that Zevon boot.

    Talk to ya soon,
    E. Pluribus

  30. I’ll definitely second “Sleigh Ride” by The Ventures. I can give it up for that Ventures Christmas party of a record. Maybe I should up my essential rock Christmas albums from 3 to 4?

    I might add that for a more varied experience, we should limit each artist to only one representation. Although I love both Elvis songs, two tunes are almost too much. Plus, it makes room for more great music. I don’t know. I suppose in a great democracy, whatever gets nominated and seconded then it’s there.


  31. Just four spots left:

    1. “Fairytale of New York”, The Pogues
    2. “Father Christmas”, The Kinks
    3. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” Darlene Love
    4. “Christmas in Suburbia”, Martin Newell
    5. “2000 Miles”, The Pretenders
    6. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, Elvis
    7. “Please Come Home for Christmas”, Charles Brown
    8. “Jesus Christ” Big Star
    9. “Blue Christmas” Elvis
    10. “Sleigh Ride” The Ventures
    11. “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” John Lennon

  32. latelydavidband,

    Ideally one per artist would be my preference too, but I didn’t mention that in the original rules. The funny thing is, I know “Santa Claus is coming to town” by The Boss. Would it be heresy to switch hrrundivbakshi?

  33. hrrundivbakshi

    Whoops — just to be clear: the Elvis tune is “Santa Claus is Back In Town.” I’m sure EP did a version of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” too, so let’s be sure we’ve got the right one. “…Back In Town” is a low-down, dirty blues, rather than the family-friendly carol we all know. “…Back In Town” is the one we want.

  34. Deinitely “BACK in Town”. I like the “Blue Chrimble” but I love that “big, black Cadillac.”


  35. Big second on “Little Saint Nick.” Also second on “Christmas Wrapping.”

    It does seem wrong to exclude the almighty Vince Guaraldi album. If not “Christmas Time Is here,” how about “Linus and Lucy”? You can’t tell me that the Peanuts Kidz ain’t rockin’ when they’re dancing to that during rehearsals!

  36. This might be a long shot, but I actually like this new Christmas song from The Hives and Cyndi Lauper.

  37. The one Peanut with the shoulders and the feet. He’s most certainly groovin’.

    I suppose it all depends on how rockin’ we want the Rock Town Hall Christmas collection to. Plus, there’s always volume 2 for next year…


  38. Nobody mentioned “Run, Run Rudolph” by Chuck Berry, who also did a nice job with Charles Brown’s “Merry Christmas Baby.” Keef’s take on the Berry tune is pretty good as well, but I prefer Chuck.

    I still say “Sentimental Hygiene” is a great soundtrack for the season, with tree trimming and what not.

    E. Pluribus

  39. Two more spots or does this become the “Rock Town Hall Double Christmas Album”? How many songs are on the average double album? Also, I believe we must have a Vince Guaraldi here, which one RTH’ers?

    1. “Fairytale of New York”, The Pogues
    2. “Father Christmas”, The Kinks
    3. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” Darlene Love
    4. “Christmas in Suburbia”, Martin Newell
    5. “2000 Miles”, The Pretenders
    6. “Santa Claus is Back in Town”, Elvis
    7. “Please Come Home for Christmas”, Charles Brown
    8. “Jesus Christ” Big Star
    9. “Blue Christmas” Elvis
    10. “Sleigh Ride” The Ventures
    11. “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” John Lennon
    12. “Little Saint Nick” Beach Boys
    13. “Christmas Wrapping” The Waitresses

  40. Mr. Moderator

    I’ll second “Run Rudolph Run” before Berylant suggests those damn XTC Christmas songs. Was Berlyant also behind that Waitresses song? Man, I get sick of that in a hurry.

    Gergs, I am associating Sentimental Hygiene more with that Eastern Orthodox date for Christmas, January 6, I believe.

  41. Since most seem to go for the Guraldi, I’ll go ahead and second the nomination for “Christmas Time Is Here.”

    Since we have The Mighty Chuck, Brian Wilson, Phil Spector, The Ventures, and Elvis all represented, how about “Christmas Time Is Here Again” by The Beatles? Or will John suffice with the Fab representation? Just a thought…


  42. Mod, time to make the call: Is this it or do we go for the RTH Double Christmas Album?

    1. “Fairytale of New York”, The Pogues
    2. “Father Christmas”, The Kinks
    3. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” Darlene Love
    4. “Christmas in Suburbia”, Martin Newell
    5. “2000 Miles”, The Pretenders
    6. “Santa Claus is Back in Town”, Elvis
    7. “Please Come Home for Christmas”, Charles Brown
    8. “Jesus Christ” Big Star
    9. “Blue Christmas” Elvis
    10. “Sleigh Ride” The Ventures
    11. “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” John Lennon
    12. “Little Saint Nick” Beach Boys
    13. “Christmas Wrapping” The Waitresses
    14. “Run Rudolph Run” Chuck Berry
    15. “Christmas Time Is Here” Vince Guaraldi Trio

  43. What a record this is by the way!

  44. Can we swap White Christmas by the Drifters for that Waitress tune? The Waitresses song is played out.

  45. CDM,

    No substitutions until next year. Great 48 put that lump of coal in your stocking…

  46. Hrundi,

    When you get a chance look through your trove of New Barbarians boots. Did they ever cover “Run Rudolph Run” at any of their gigs?

    Awaiting anxiously,
    E. Pluribus

    P.S. Monkey Grip’s FINALLY been reissued on CD, by the Japs of course!

  47. A little off topic, if you’re ever in Santa Rosa (that sounds like a country hit…) check out the Charles Schultz Museum, it’s actually pretty good would be great for anyone with kids. My fiance and I drove down to Napa and stayed in Santa Rosa. Any American that builds a hockey rink in that heat gets much respect from Canucks!

  48. Trivia I just learned from Wikipedia:

    “A Christmas Gift for You” (The Phil Spector Christmas Album) was released on November 22, 1963, the day JFK was assassinated.

  49. mockcarr

    No love for the Who’s song with a couplet like this? “Did you ever see the faces of the children, they get so excited/Waking up on Christmas morning hours before the winter sun’s ignited”.

    Ignited, damn.

  50. Mmmm.

    Maybe a topic for a thread there mockcarr.

    “Worst/Best rhyming couplet in rock.”

    I can forgive Mr Townsend this one, as his genius shines through elsewhere, but not really a great Christmas song.


  51. alexmagic

    The Who representation should be Billy Childish’s “Pete Townshend’s Christmas”.

    I can live with my JB number being shot down, but HVB noted my second choice, “Go Power At Christmas”, which is a true winner and as good as anything on the list above.

    Otis Redding’s version of “White Christmas” is a killer. The Ramones’ “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight)” belongs with the the dysfunctional Christmas classics.

    The best one I’ve heard from the last few years is The Sea Navy’s “The Truth About Christmas”. The chorus is “Christmas is a time to get a lot of stuff” and it clocks in at under two minutes. What more could anybody want? It’s available here:

    Mod disapprovingly mentioned the XTC Christmas entries. I’ll throw out two disappointments of my own: “Christmas Bop” by T. Rex, which sounds like something Bolan would have done for The Muppet Show, and Wizzard’s “Rock and Roll Christmas”, which sounds like…well, it sounds like a Wizzard Christmas song, actually. Maybe that one’s not a disappointment.

    HVB, do you have a take on Prince’s “Another Lonely Christmas”? I actually kinda like that one, but it’s almost seven friggin’ minutes long, which tends not to go over well.

    After hearing all the great stuff in the Baby Flamehead post, I now really want there to be a Big Mess Orchestra version of my favorite traditional Christmas song, O Holy Night. Which, I learned around this time last year, may have been the first song broadcast over radio.

  52. AlexMagic,

    I had forgotten about “Another Lonely Christmas”, that’s a good one.

  53. Mr. Moderator

    Northvancoveman – and Townspeople – nice work in compiling those 15 Christmas tunes. I vote in favor of sticking to your guns. Next, we’ll have to look into compiling these tracks to share a little holiday cheer as 12/25 approaches.

  54. Thanks Mod, I went through the list and played them today. It really is a great collection. We’ll try again next year with the same format and see what we get.

    By the way, Oats, I really think that “A Child’s Christmas in Wales would have been a nice touch here, so we’ll look for that one in 09!

  55. Big second on “Little Saint Nick.” Also second on “Christmas Wrapping.”

    Ah, finally some sanity here. I’m very happy to see these seconded.

    I’ll second “Run Rudolph Run” before Berylant suggests those damn XTC Christmas songs.

    Well I actually forgot to nominate XTC (ala The Three Wise Men)’s “Thanks for Christmas”, though I won’t be too disappointed if it doesn’t make it. That single’s B-side, “Countdown to Christmas Party Time”, on the other hand, is definitely a big ol’ pile of suckage.

    Was Berlyant also behind that Waitresses song? Man, I get sick of that in a hurry.

    Guilty as charged!

  56. Hope y’all don’t mind, but I took a crack at sequencing the RTHXA myself, and I like how it holds up:

    1. “Santa Claus is Back In Town” — Elvis Presley
    2. “Run Rudolph Run” –Chuck Berry
    3. “Little Saint Nick” — The Beach Boys
    4. “Christmas In Suburbia” — Martin Newell
    5. “Father Christmas” — The Kinks
    6. “Christmas Wrapping” — The Waitresses
    7. “Sleigh Ride” — The Ventures
    8.”Blue Christmas” — Elvis Presley
    9. “Fairytale of New York” — The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl
    10. “Please Come Home For Christmas” — Charles Brown
    11. “2000 Miles” — Pretenders
    12. “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” — The Plastic Ono Band
    13. “Jesus Christ” — Big Star
    14. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” — Darlene Love
    15. “Christmas Time Is Here” — Vince Guaraldi Trio

    Vinyl types: the side break is between tracks 7 and 8.

  57. for next year’s collection, or maybe a special bonus track, wesley willis’ merry christmas.

  58. 2000 Man

    E. Pluribus – The New Barbarians didn’t play Run Run Rudolph, but in 1988 The X-Pennsive Winos did it once in New Jersey, the last night of the tour. I never came across a tape of it, but I’m sure it exists somewhere.

  59. hrrundivbakshi

    Yeah, but what are your feelings on “Monkey Grip”? That’s a favorite of Plurbie’s. I never really got into it, but he swears by that disc.

  60. 2000 Man

    Monkey Grip? Well, it’s better than Stone Alone. Neither album is any good, though. They’re better than Jagger’s Primitive Cool, but that’s some really faint praise.

    I found the box that has the end of my Stones bootlegs in jewel cases, which includes my Keith Richards solo section. That means it’s been three years since I played Keith’s Talk Is Cheap album. That’s just fantastic. It sounds like a million bucks, too. I think it’s one of the best rock recordings ever. I don’t let Monkey Grip anywhere near it.

  61. general slocum

    OK, I skimmed through some of the 60 comments here, but have you bypassed Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto? I saw the one JB nod in there, but good heavens. And Lou Rawls’ 1963 Christmas album offers up a few choice tidbits. Christmas Will Really Be Christmas is a funk soul gem. Of course, the oft sampled, never equaled “Merry Christmas Baby” by Otis Redding opens several of my seasonal comps.

  62. mikeydread

    Two songs: Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis by Tom Waits.

    And one from Paul Kelly, Australian singer-songwriter. It’s actually more about Boxing Day but catches the Australian seasonal mood very nicely. The first verse goes:

    It’s been a hard hard year, pushing shit up hill
    But shit happens all the time and I guess it always will
    Now the days are getting long, Summer’s on it’s way
    And I can’t wait for Christmas time, beacuse the day after is Boxing Day
    And You’ll know where to find me, ten rows back at the M.C.G
    Right behind the bowler’s arm

    It’s called Behind the Bowler’s Arm. The MCG is a 100,000 seat stadium in Melbourne and every Boxing Day a five-day cricket match kicks off there. Sometimes five days isn’t enough to settle things and the match ends in a draw. Or is rained out.
    And if you are not at the MCG on Boxing Day, chances you are at the beach listening to the cricket.

    Merry Christmas, whatever your sport!

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