We all have them, songs that seem to touch a secret place in your soul – sometimes secret even from you. They can grow and occasionally fester like an open wound, or they can fill you up, inspire you, and occasionally even heal you. Sometimes they don't even reflect your musical tastes. They can be shameful secrets that you keep from family and friends. You feel like a drug addict craving your next fix. At times like those you thank the powers that be for MP3 players – the syringe of those suffering with this affliction.
This is a special Christmas installment of songs that touch my soul but, unlike most of the “Songs” column’s, this edition isn’t full of passion, desire, and lust – because even I can’t make Christmas lusty. Usually just five songs long, this holiday special will be 12 songs (one for each day of Christmas) over a two-part column. Not a traditionalist, you’ll notice that many of these songs are not the regular favourites, although there are few golden-oldies that I simply couldn’t do without.
“When I get Home for Christmas” – Snow Patrol
Oh how I love Snow Patrol and Gary Lightbody’s unfailing ability to do all the wrong things, get his heart broken, and then write a beautiful melancholy love song to make up for it. Hell, he wouldn’t have a shtick if not for his romantic ineptitude. This time it’s in Christmas song form, a classic example of Snow Patrol finery wrapped up in Christmas paper and tied with a big red bow. Lightbody’s lyrics say it all. “When I said that I loved her instead/ It's funny how you misunderstand”, ah yes the classic oops I told the wrong person I loved them and you got all huffy about it story. Ah, Christmas…
“Little Drummer Boy” – Dandy Warhols
This fun, energetic rock version of “Little Drummer Boy” should be the definitive version; Christmassy but definitely rock, traditional but thoroughly modern. Dandy Warhols have updated this stuffy, old carol, perfectly with great harmonies, electronic flourishes, indie guitar and, of course, killer drums. Truly the perfect modern update. I have attached the video below for you to see and believe.
“In Dulci Jubilo” – Mike Oldfield
This is one of those traditional tunes with a modern twist. “In Dulci Jubilo” or “Good Christian Men, Rejoice” (I’m neither Christian nor male so it doesn’t apply to me) is a twelfth century German carol originally written in Macaronic verse (basically it was written in a mixture of languages and even occasionally has a few bi-lingual in jokes – early intellectual snobbery). He of Tubular Bells fame, seems to have taken great joy in Christmas with his mixture of instruments rejoicing exuberantly but with gently restrained fervour. What makes this the best of all versions for me is simply the instrumentation, the perfect mixture of acoustic and electric instruments. Old and new dancing together in festive delight, I’m convinced that if sugar plum fairies do dance, this is what it will sound like.
“Every Day is Christmas” – Webb Brothers
I’ve never heard anything else by the Webb Brothers, but I know this is a jewel in the crown of alt Christmas indie rock music. From the sons of legendary songwriter Jimmy Webb, “Every Day is Christmas” is a sweetly longing love song, that seems only to have been contributed to the greatest alt Christmas album ever It's a Cool Cool Christmas, from Jeepster Records. Released only in the UK (2000), it’s the greatest Christmas compilation album ever and now a cult classic.
“White Christmas” – Bing Crosby
How could I not? It is the most famous Christmas song of modern times. It even spun its own film. No this Irving Berlin classic isn’t from the film White Christmas it’s from the film Holiday Inn (1942) and originally sung as a duet between Bing and Marjorie Reynolds. The simple, heart-felt lyrics and the better-in-the-old-days sentiment appeals to all ages and social classes. This is truly the perfect festive song, and it wouldn’t be Christmas without it.