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Run, Run Rudolph

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Maybe you’re young and single. Maybe you’re struggling to make ends meet in (another) down economy. Maybe your love life, work life, and drug life are all tangled up. If so, you’ll likely find the songs on the CD The Edge of Christmas relevant, not to mention rocking. It might even spark some warm feelings in your jaded old heart.

Then again, maybe you came of age about when Reagan rode into Washington with nuclear guns a’blazin. Like I did (came of age that is; I stay away from guns). If so, then this album is for you, too, even though the nostalgia factor may be a bit overwhelming.

Or, perhaps you just appreciate the artifacts of rock-pop culture, in which case you’ll probably enjoy this blast from the 1980s, a decade that is in the spotlight right now on VH1’s amusing series “I Love the ’80s.”

The Edge of Christmas collects 12 songs, 10 of which were recorded during the ’80s, with the other two just before or just after that decade. They are all winners, save one. In a good many of the songs, Christmas is something desperately needed – either the idea of peace, the reuniting or reconciliation with loved ones, or the desire to put a positive exclamation point on another tough year. It’s all exemplified by The Payolas’ “Christmas is Coming.”

“Christmas is coming/It’s been a long year/I wish you were here” goes the chorus. The song details the singer’s scrappy existence: unemployment, apartment kitchen in need of repair (an inch of water on the floor, but the landlord doesn’t care, “he only wants more”), playin’ records too loud.

The Payolas weren’t familiar to me back in the day, but that song is a gem. Most of the artists on the CD are familiar, though. Here they are, in order:

Queen (“Thank God it’s Christmas” gotta love that title, and the song. Bombastic, yeah a bit, but Freddie pulls it off.);

Pat Benatar (“Please Come Home for Christmas” – don’t laugh, it’s a credible blues ditty and she belts it out nicely);

The Pretenders (“2000 Miles” – what can I say, Chrissie Hynde. Heartbreaking and beautiful);

Kate Bush (“December Will be Magic Again” – I get the gist, but not much else; it’s unintelligible and annoying after a while, i.e. it’s Kate Bush);

David Bowie w/ Bing Crosby (“Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” – weird wild stuff, and it works; great vocal by Bowie, worth the price of admission);

Cocteau Twins (“Winter Wonderland” – never a fan, but this is quite nice);

The Smithereens (“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – pure, unadulterated rock spirit — these boys had it)

Dave Edmunds (“Run Rudolph Run” – a great Chuck Berry song that rocks so tightly that even Chuck would smile; this and the previous are a one-two punch guaranteed to have your butt movin.)

The Pogues w/ Kirsty MacColl (“Fairytale of New York” – has there been a greater rock band? Or a more original rock Christmas song?)

The Ramones (“Merry Christmas (I don’t want to fight tonight)” – “where is Rudolph, where is Blitzen, baby?” …immortal)

The Waitresses (“Christmas Wrapping” – a pun on rapping, ‘cause that’s what it is. Would have also made a good blog entry)

“Bah, humbug!” No, that’s too strong
‘Cause it is my favorite holiday
But all this year’s been a busy blur
Don’t think I have the energy

To add to my already mad rush
Just ’cause it ’tis the season.
The perfect gift for me would be
Completions and connections left from

Last year, ski shop,
Encounter, most interesting.
Had his number but never the time
Most of ’81 passed along those lines.

So deck those halls, trim those trees
Raise up cups of Christmas cheer,
I just need to catch my breath,
Christmas by myself this year.

Calendar picture, frozen landscape,
Chilled this room for twenty-four days,
Evergreens, sparkling snow
Get this winter over with!

Flashback to springtime, saw him again,
Would’ve been good to go for lunch,
Couldn’t agree when we were both free,
We tried, we said we’d keep in touch.

Didn’t, of course, ’til summertime,
Out to the beach to his boat could I join him?
No, this time it was me,
Sunburn in the third degree.

Now the calendar’s just one page
And, of course, I am excited
Tonight’s the night, but I’ve set my mind
Not to do too much about it.

Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
But I think I’ll miss this one this year.
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
But I think I’ll miss this one this year.
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
But I think I’ll miss this one this year.
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
But I think I’ll miss this one this year.

Hardly dashing through the snow
Cause I bundled up too tight
Last minute have-to-do’s
A few cards a few calls
‘Cause it’s r-s-v-p
No thanks, no party lights
It’s Christmas Eve, gonna relax
Turned down all of my invites.

Last fall I had a night to myself,
Same guy called, halloween party,
Waited all night for him to show,
This time his car wouldn’t go,

Forget it, it’s cold, it’s getting late,
Trudge on home to celebrate
In a quiet way, unwind
Doing Christmas right this time.

A&P has provided me
With the world’s smallest turkey
Already in the oven, nice and hot
Oh damn! Guess what I forgot?

So on with the boots, back out in the snow
To the only all-night grocery,
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
In the line is that guy I’ve been chasing all year!

“I’m spending this one alone,” he said.
“Need a break; this year’s been crazy.”
I said, “Me too, but why are you?
You mean you forgot cranberries too?”

Then suddenly we laughed and laughed
Caught on to what was happening
That Christmas magic’s brought this tale
To a very happy ending!

Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
Couldn’t miss this one this year!
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
Couldn’t miss this one this year!

~ Chris Butler, The Waitresses

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About George Partington

  • http://www.beingjenraj.blogspot.com Jen Raj

    All on frequent rotation on Z-100’s (when they did not suck so much) (NYC) 24 hours of Christmas. As kids, my oldest younger brother and I would listen to about 20 of those 24 hours together as a sort of ritual. Count the repeats.. predict the next play, etc.

    Now I can barely stand the stuff, but all of the above get a few free passes :-)

  • http://www.geocities.com/drclueful/christmassacre.html Chris Clark

    The Payolas were a Canadian new wave band who had a big hit with “Eyes Of A Stranger” (produced by Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson) that was featured in “Valley Girl.”

    If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of rockin’ Christmas tunes that don’t suck, check out:

    http://www.geocities.com/drclueful/christmassacre.html

  • Eric Olsen

    Mega-successful hard rock producer Bob Rock was in the Payolas, later Rock and Hyde.