We're not quite at that level yet, but we're slowly building our own story. These things take time. But so far our story seems to involve a lot of Disney ornaments or ones made by the local jewelry school. Which is all good.
Anyway, I was making fun of Roger Whittaker, but I thought I would put up my favourite Christmas songs. I make fun of Christmas music and don't listen to much of it because, really, so much of it is just awful. And I'm not being a cynical bastard. If I was, I'd hate all Christmas music, but I don't. But if the ratio of a good song to a bad one is 1:50 (a number I'm pulling out of a hat), then Christmas music has the odds even more stacked against it. The ratio has to be 1:500 or something.
The fact I can pick 10 favourite Christmas songs is a sign of that. If you asked me to pick my Top 10 all-time favourite songs, couldn't do it. No idea where to even begin. It would be a nearly impossible task.
But here's my Top 10 Christmas songs. Once you get out of the Top 5, it gets pretty arbitrary, but the first five are pretty solid.
1. St. Stephen's Day Murders - The Chieftains and Elvis Costello. Yes, the title sounds particularly grim. And yes, the song is about contemplating murdering your family during the Christmas holidays. And yes, the song's narrator seems pretty joyful over the prospect of doing it. But it's a fun song about really loving your family, even with all the quirks. And even if, like nearly all of us, you're desperately ready for them to leave by the time St. Stephen's Day (Boxing Day) rolls around.
2. Fairytale of New York - The Pogues and Kristy MacColl. All right, this one is depressing, no two ways around it. But it's classic, haunting and sad. And it never hurts to have a reminder that not everyone is having a merry Christmas.
And honestly, I can think of few lyrics that hit me as hard as these sung between Shane MacGowan and MacColl:
I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can't make it all alone
I've built my dreams around you
3. The Rebel Jesus - The Chieftains and Jackson Browne. I could put pretty much the entire Bells of Dublin album on this list, as I love it. But I'll stick to these two songs. This one just a reminder that perhaps there's more to Christmas than sales and to try and do better.
4. The Holly and the Ivy - Pamela Morgan and Anita Best. The entire album wobbles a bit and I'd love to hear Morgan and Best do an album without youth choirs and what not. But The Holly and the Ivy just shines, with two of the finest female vocalists in Newfoundland harmonizing beautifully.
5. Maybe this Christmas - Ron Sexsmith. Every blue moon someone comes out with such a simple, pretty Christmas song that it make you ache and wonder why more people can't do this. And then you remember that the really good songwriters make it look effortless.
6. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan. That the Barenaked Ladies can groove out a Christmas song and have some fun is no real surprise (sorry Laura), but it's always so refreshing to hear McLachlan sing something that doesn't sound like she's in mourning.
7. Song for a Winter's Night - Sarah McLachlan. Having said that, when she does it right, and you're not numbed by every single song sounding the same, she can do a pretty, slow and sad Christmas song (although it wasn't originally released as a Christmas song, it's been co-oped into one). I will also commit the sacrilege and say her version is better than Gordon Lightfoot's original. Sorry.
8. Snoopy's Christmas - The Royal Guardsman. Despite being absolutely played to death over the years, I still have affection for this song, which I loved as a kid. Although I remember being deeply puzzled and annoyed that the rest of the songs on the album were just standard Christmas songs and not more about the Peanuts gang and Christmas.
9. Gabriel's message - Sting. It's totally over the top and overly dramatic, but I do like it. It's one of the few Christmas songs that remain on my iPod year round.
10. I saw three ships - Bruce Cockburn. There are likely thousands of versions of this song. I just like Cockburn's guitar playing and the comfort of his voice.
Any favourites of yours that I should consider? And don't bother suggesting anything by Mariah Carey or I'll have to come over there and slap the life clean out of you. Seriously.
1. There's a fire - OK Go
2. Two - Ryan Adams
3. You make lovin' fun - Fleetwood Mac
4. The man with the child in his eyes - Kate Bush
5. No surprises - Radiohead*