Christmas is a living hell for many reasons – perhaps you’re homeless, recently suffered the loss of a loved one or you’re stuck as a wage slave in the postal or retail businesses. I had to work ten years in retail. Being forced to hear Burl Ives singing “Holly Jolly Christmas” every ten minutes every holiday season will scar anyone for life.
Christmas could be made more bearable with a better soundtrack. Granted, you are probably stuck with some Christmas-loving family member or co-worker and cannot get away from Christmas music entirely. See if you can insert these five songs into the holiday playlist or play them for yourself as an antidote to the Christmas madness. I originally was going to make this list ten songs, but then I got really depressed and shortened it to five. You’re welcome.
Number Five: The Theme From “The Great Escape”
This only works if you live in any other country but the UK. For those UK-impaired, the World War II movie “The Great Escape” (1963) is played EVERY SINGLE BLOODY CHRISTMAS, sometimes more than once, depending on how many channels you have. It’s been played so much that British television adverts uses this theme as part of their promotions. Play it for Americans and tell them it’s a traditional English Christmas song and watch it play with their heads. Another bonus is that there aren’t any words.
Number Four: “Linus and Lucy” By Vince Guaraldi
OK, so how about if you’re stuck living in the UK? Play this piece and call it a traditional American Christmas carol. Although commonly thought of as the theme for Peanuts television specials, it made its debut in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965.) Only three guys produced this evergreen tune. And, of course, there aren’t any words.
Number Three: “Peace On Earth” By U2
You don’t really think of U2 as big Christmas carol writers, but this is a poignant tune buried in their hit album “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” (2000.) Especially good percussion work adds to but does not overpower the fragile melody. U2 takes the often used but empty phrase “peace on earth” and points out, “We hear it every Christmastime, but hope and history don’t rhyme.”
Number Two: “Christmas Really Sucks” By Jay Brannan
Just a video of a guy sitting on his bed with a guitar and singing his heart out. Includes the immortal line “It’s Christmas and I hate it.” However, this is a gentle melody and Jay Brannan has a great voice. Brannan is able to put words to the intense misery many of us go through during Christmastime. This video has over 28,000 hits on YouTube. See it now and you can brag that you saw it before it goes viral.
Number One: “A Christmas Carol” By Tom Lehrer
The best songwriter you’ve never heard of, Tom Lehrer penned this classic in the 1960s. Not only does it parody Christmas music and traditions in general, but how Christmas is celebrated in America. There is also some practical advice, such as never to give matching pen and pencil sets as gifts.
Good luck surviving this and every holiday onslaught on your ears for the rest of your life.