My sister, Diamondqueen, did a blog post about all the holiday songs that I just can’t stand. (Why my songs? I guess she doesn’t hate any. Although I’ve heard her snarl about anything by Mannheim Steamroller.) I wrote a post myself a few years ago about my particular contempt for “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” one I find especially annoying.
Yesterday political reporter and MSNBC contributor Dave Weigel Tweeted about his contempt for Paul McCartney’s holiday classic: “I’d rather hear Justin Bieber gargle the Cole Porter songbook than hear ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ again.”
I used to feel the same way about that song, especially when it was first released. I thought it was insipid and particularly un-Christmas sounding. I hated the video even more with its dark, grainy shots and cheesy special effects.
Over time, somehow, my opinion changed. I think it was due strictly to associations of happy seasonal experiences with hearing the song in the background or playing it in the car as we drove on some holly-jolly road trip. Instead of feeling my spine kink when I heard “Wonderful Christmastime,” I smiled at some cheery memory and got all gushy with Christmas spirit. Instead of crying, “Gaaahhhh!” at the first metallic reverberations of electronic tinkling, I’d get a little energy shot of pleasure. “We’re here tonight, that’s enough!” became a kind of mantra for me.
I lost some of that in the late ’90s when Linda McCartney passed away. It just made me sad thinking, “Poor Paul, his wife died, it couldn’t be too wonderful now.” Somehow a marriage, divorce, and new engagement* since then have left me feeling a lot less sorry for Sir Paul. And, yes, I admit it, I get my spirit boost whenever I hear “Wonderful Christmastime.”
*I just learned Paul McCartney actually got married recently. Glad you’ll be having a happy Christmas, Sir Paul.
Still not fond of the video, though. (See above; you be the judge.) Those people look as if they’re having a wonderful holiday because they’re soused. And those special effects still suck the sparkle out of the Christmas star.
NUDGE: What song do you despise at Christmastime? Has it been a lifelong hate, or did you just recently develop a contempt for some ditty that escaped into the musical canon of holiday pop music? Are there songs you hate mostly because of one grimace-inducing detail? (For instance, I go hunchback when Dean Martin sings “Rudy, the red-beaked reindeer…” in his lounge lizard version of the song, including his throwing in a bit of vaudevillian German accent for who knows what reason.) Or can you not stand a song because of personal associations? (I might have been able to tolerate the kitsch of “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” but it was released the same year my paternal grandmother died at the age of 84 on December 8.)