“Hewlett” by Planxty (Amazon Advent Calendar day 24)

Hewlett Planxty The Well Below The Valley Genre: Folk I should warn you: this is a bagpipe number. The Irish folk band who recorded “Hewlett” list the instrument as “Uilleann pipes,” no doubt exploiting the same regulatory and moral loophole that allows the restaurant industry to print the word “sweetbreads” on the menu instead of…

“Christmas Time Is Here Again” by The Beatles (Amazon Advent Calendar day 23)

I said “Merry Crimble” to everybody all through the holiday weekend, despite a unbroken streak of Not Saying That which began, I suppose, with my first exposure to air and daylight. (Before that, there were no witnesses to anything I might or might not have said, and I refuse to ask you to accept unreliable…

“Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy” by Buck Owens and his Buckaroos (Amazon Advent Calendar day 22)

Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy Buck Owens and his Buckaroos Christmas With Buck Owens And His Buckaroos Genre: Country C-day Minus One. Time to focus on the Christmas-ey sort of tunes, no? We can file this song in the same thematic category as “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” Both are first-person, unreliable-narrator accounts…

“Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) by Darlene Love (Amazon Advent Calendar Day 21)

Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) Darlene Love The Concert Of Love Genre: Rock Yesterday, I thrilled you all with an English paper I wrote during the second semester of my third Sophomore year in high school. I got a solid “B” on it and I’m real pleased with how it turned out. I think this…

“A Christmas Carol” (performed by Patrick Stewart) Amazon Advent Calendar Day 20

A Christmas Carol Patrick Stewart A Christmas Carol Genre: Audiobook Boy, oh, boy. Patrick Stewart’s one-man dramatic reading defines “A Christmas Carol” for me. It gets straight to the heart of the original, as I see it. Scrooge isn’t healed by the Christmas spirit…he’s healed because he’s forced to evaluate the bad choices in his…

“Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me” by “Weird Al” Yankovic (Amazon Advent Calendar day 19)

Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me “Weird Al” Yankovic Alpocalypse Genre: Pop Last time, I talked about novelty versions of pop songs. I believe (checks notes) ah! Yes, as I suspected: I said critical, sweeping things about an entire genre, and dismissed it out of hand mostly because I, personally, have no taste for it.…

“Hard To Handle” by The Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain (Amazon Advent Calendar day 18)

Hard To Handle The Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain The Secret Of Life Genre: Pop I have a very low tolerance for precious novelty interpretations of pop hits. I don’t really understand the concept. Let’s take “Achy-Breaky Heart” as a case study. My problems with this song are as follows: repetitive melody; not particularly catchy…

“Camel Walk” by Southern Culture On The Skids (Amazon Advent Calendar Day 17)

Camel Walk Southern Culture On The Skids Dirt Track Date Genre: Pop You shouldn’t look things up on the Internet when you know that the answer can’t possibly do you any good. There are three titles associated with this song and two of them are wonderful. “Southern Culture On The Skids” is a fantastic name…

“I Believe” (from “The Book Of Mormon”) – Amazon Advent Calendar day 16

I Believe [Explicit] Andrew Rennells & Ensemble The Book Of Mormon Genre: Broadway As I write this, I’m watching a nice little special on Turner Classic Movies about holiday films. Famous people (Chevy Chase, Chazz Palminteri), once-famous people (the guy who played the mean kid in “A Christmas Story,” the woman who played Zuzu in…

“I Can’t Write Left-Handed” by John Legend & The Roots (Amazon Advent Calendar day 15)

I Can’t Write Left Handed John Legend and The Roots Wake Up! Genre: R&B “Wake Up!” was one of my favorite buys of 2011. A pal recommended “I Can’t Write Left-Handed” to me and after I gave this version of it a listen, I had to slap myself twice. First, because the album had been…

“Stardust” by Bing Crosby (Amazon Advent Calendar day 14)

Stardust Bing Crosby & Matty Melneck Bing Crosby: A Centennial Anthology Of His Decca Recordings Genre: Jazz This week’s episode of my podcast was a particularly fun one. It was a holiday special in which I explained, in terms so plain as to guarantee their assent, that “White Christmas” is a terrible, terrible movie. You…

“Existential Blues” by Tom “T-Bone” Stankus (Amazon Advent Calendar day 13)

Existential Blues Tom “T-Bone” Stankus Dr. Demento 20th Anniversary Collection: The Greatest Novelty Records of All Time Genre: Books & Spoken “Existential Blues” will be familiar to any kid who spent Sunday nights listening to The Dr. Demento Show. It was one of perhaps 18 tracks that were perennial staples, a collection of tunes that…

“Keep It Gay” from “The Producers” (Amazon Advent Calendar day 12)

Keep It Gay The Producers The Producers Original Broadway Cast Album Genre: Soundtrack “If you’re going to go to the trouble of walking up to a bell, don’t just tap the bell. Ring the bell.” That’s the money quote from an interview with Mel Brooks I read a while back. It sort of defines his…

“Is There Anything Wrong With That?” by Helen Kane (Amazon Advent Calendar day 11)

Is There Anything Wrong With That? Helen Kane Betty Boop Best Of Genre: Jazz This is a fun song. Remember fun songs? No? Me, neither. I blame the fact that we all grew up eating regular, nutritious meals; we were guaranteed an education through age 18; there were laws prohibiting the use of child labor;…

“Lucky Penny” by John Doe (Amazon Advent Calendar day 10)

Lucky Penny John Doe Keeper Genre: Alternative This is just a goddamn beautiful song. Why bury the lede? It’s a pure, simple love song, with an uncluttered melody and uncomplicated arrangement that bespeaks a certain confidence. And the instrumental part has just enough rattle and edge to it. Last week’s post about Billy Joel’s “Big…