If you’re reading this, you’re alive. That’s a good thing considering that this year claimed just about every celebrity in existence.
We wanted to give a little shout-out to John Hughes. His films have left an indelible impression on our generation. Movies like The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink, and Sixteen Candles basically created a whole new genre. It’s spawned many imitations, but none have captured the magic of Hughes. He also contributed some of the best holiday movies in recent history. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is one of the best films of the past fifty years—a truly touching comedy that features the best work by both Steve Martin and John Candy as two wayward travelers making it home for Thanksgiving. Hughes also wrote Home Alone (see the note below on the Mel Torme song), Home Alone 2 (which was still pretty good in my book, if not predictable), and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. These days, it’s nearly impossible to contribute a holiday film that is placed in the canon. Hughes wrote three—PTA, Home Alone, Christmas Vacation—and all are watched in my house in November and December. If you’ve never seen these, please check them out. And speaking of films, what are your favorite holiday movies? Let me know.
For the songs today, let’s highlight some tracks from those great holiday Hughes films.
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York.
“I'm not sorry. I did what I did because Buzz humiliated me and since he gets away with everything, I let him have it. And since you're all so STUPID to believe his lies I don't care if your idiotic Florida trip gets wrecked or not! Who wants to spend Christmas in a tropical climate anyway?”
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York.
“I know I don't deserve a Christmas, even if I did do a good deed. I don't want any presents. Instead, I want to take back every mean thing I ever said to my family. Even if they don't take back the things they said to me. I don't care. I love all of them... Including Buzz. I know it isn't possible to see them all. Could I just see my mother? I'll never want another thing as long as I live if I can just see my mother. I know I won't see her tonight, but promise me I can see her again. Sometime. Any time. Even if it's just once and only for a couple minutes. I just need to tell her I'm sorry.”
“Allow me to introduce myself, Gus Polinski How are you? Polka King of the Midwest? The Kenosha Kickers? No? That's okay I thought you might have recognized—...Anyways I had a few hits a few years ago. That's why I... Polka, Polka, Polka?(singing) Polka, polka, polka... No? Twin Lakes Polka... Domavougi Polka A.K.A. Kiss me polka...polka twist?”
Judy Garland has the best version of the song, but Mel Torme’s is my favorite, originally featured in Home Alone, which Hughes wrote. Torme was called The Velvet Fog, and for good reason—that voice is smooth. Fans of the television show Night Court might remember that Harry Anderson’s character loved Mel Torme. For some reason, my father loved Nigh Court and Mel Torme. My mother and I saw Home Alone twice in December of 1990. My father had been dead for a few months by that point. It had been a hard year and we hadn’t laughed that much in a long time. Even though I had heard the song plenty of times, when Torme’s song played at the end, I actually listened to the lyrics for the first time. The promise that next year would be better, that someday everyone would be together, and that troubles would be out of sight—it stuck with me. Composer John Williams produced this version and adds his unmistakable instrumentation behind Torme’s warm and endearing vocals. Every time I watch Home Alone, I am reminded of sitting in a dark theater with my mother and laughing until it hurt.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
“Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny f*cking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.”
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
“Hey! If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I'd like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit he is! Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?”
I am that man from Pennsylvania who just wants some homemade pumpkin pie.
This always brings a smile to my face.
One of the saddest songs of the season.
I’ve been shoveling the past two days. I’m sore, and not the way a man in a 1940s movie is sore. I’m actually wincing each time I type a letter. So long PC—we’ll see him again next year, I’m sure. We do hope to have another project, but the response to 77 Santas is so strong each year, how can we stop? I just ordered two new Christmas compilations last night so I’m not going anywhere.
Here are some new drawings. We are getting close to 77! It promised to be a doozey. I’ll be here until Wednesday to send all of you into Christmas Eve in style. So get ready—as usual, I’m closing things out with an explosion of goodness.
Her voice… It’s… Ah, it’s good, it’s good.
Jim, it sure doesn’t.
Ring, ring, ring.
Totally off-the-wall piano.
An 80s classic.
It’s in the air, can’t you hear it?
Sadly, this song rings all true.
I don’t care what you call it, this is a keeper.
Lead singer Steve Ripley used to play guitar for Bob Dylan. He also used to smoke a lot of cigarettes, or at least it sounds that way.
I love the cash register at the start of this song.
Nothing like some psychotic rockabilly.
One of my favorite country Christmas tunes.
Hushed and soft, another great version.
1. Is mom cheating on dad? 2. Does mom not know some more updated dances?
You want a white Christmas? Well, Central Virginia may have a white winter, because I can’t imagine how this snowy wallop is going away anytime soon. 18 inches have piled up outside my house, and it’s still coming down. We might have two feet before all is said and done. But that’s okay. Make some hot chocolate and relax to some Christmas tunes.
We’ve got some great Santa drawings (65, 66 for those keeping score at home) today that put mine to shame. David Gessner was kind enough to pass along some of his drawings. And just for fun, I’m linking to his YouTube videos as well. You know, with this snowstorm blasting the northeast, a lot of people will have to buy some gifts online. If you’re looking for books, you could pick-up Soaring with Fidel, Return of the Osprey, and Sick of Nature. And you could also get The Gossip of Starlings, written by his wife Nina de Gramont, for readers on your gift list as well. Look at how I just solved shopping problems for you.
This is a great sweet little song, laid-back and melodic.
They aren’t purple just yet. Put I still have
Look, it’s not a Christmas song, but it’s by the brilliant Nick Cave (whom PC saw on a street in Chicago this year!). And there’s a good chance we’ll have fifteen feet of pure white snow by the end of the day.
Need to get the intensity of Nick Cave out of you? This should do it.
like the Wagonmaster at Christmas time.
Best version of this song in my book. If you disagree, we’ll have to resort to fisticuffs.
Get rocked by rocked by the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, hard-rocking, booty-shaking, earth-quaking, nerve-breaking, Viagra-taking history-making, legendary E Street Band.
We’re ten days out from the big day. Wow. PC is currently covering his entire neighborhood with fake snow. That’s why you haven’t heard from him lately. But I think he’s got one or two posts left. Enjoy the songs today. And here’s a brand new drawing for you kids!
Something tells me these two didn’t have the hap, hap, happiest of holidays.
Is it a Christmas song? I don’t know. But it’s great.
Some dirty blues for your holiday.
Dig the Dandy Warhols sample. Lyrically, well, it’s basically being horny on Christmas. Probably not one for the office Christmas mix.
Here’s a little plug for a superb blog The Late Greats. This is from the 2007 mix—each year is stellar.
Three Stooges Santa, Peeping Tom Santa, and Naked Burt Reynolds Santa. Only 18 more to go—and I’ve got some dandies planned. In the next day or so, we should hit our 100,000th visit! Tell your friends. Tell your enemies. Tell those Burt Reynolds fans you know and love.
This one is dedicated to our dear friend, Pookie McSween, spending Christmas far away from the mainland U.S. on an island in the Pacific. But that doesn’t mean that PC and I don’t miss him everyday.
If I’m not mistaken, I believe that Lou Dobbs attempted to have this song banned from the radio for supposedly promoting illegal immigration. That just seems cruel, man. Alright, I go sleep now.
Here’s another dedication to the Matterns of Little Brick Road. I think I can see the Christmas lights from here, Clark!
Pure power pop at Christmas time. Add this to your eggnog and drink it down.
The last I can find, Gayla Peevey lived on the west coast. She left the music industry, became a teacher, and later owned an advertising firm. She’s a grandmother now. By all accounts, it’s been a wonderful life for her, and I wish her many more. And I hope that during this time of year, she knows how much joy this song brings people, especially those of us at 77 Santas. We’ll close out the season with another song by her in a few weeks.
He’s everywhere! He’s everywhere! Here’s an old-testament Santa Claus—he knows everything you do. It’s disturbing and creepy.
There are only 22 Santas left to be hand-drawn. Today, we had Crying Tim Tebow Santa, Santa Lincoln, and John Wilkes Booth Elf—yeah, it was dark. But here we have Lebowski Santas downing some half and half. Clearly you’re not a golfer.
I love nearly every version of this song. Here’s a plaintive piano rendition, perfect for looking out the window on a snowy evening.
The crickets and the rust-beetles scuttled among the nettles of the sage thicket. "Vámonos, amigos," he whispered, and threw the busted leather flintcraw over the loose weave of the saddlecock. And they rode on in the friscalating dusklight.
One of the late great and forgotten Boston bands. Christmas heartache sure is catchy when they sing it.
This song of mine, in three quarters time…
My Queen of Christmas, Ms. Brenda Lee, can’t find much reason to cheer when every day is lonely. (MP4 file.)
For some reason, this song reminded me of the 1994 film Trapped in Paradise, which I believe took place around Christmastime in the Pennsylvania town of Paradise. Wow, why do I remember that movie?
Sweet Georgia Brown is it cold outside! It’s not even the middle of the month yet but the winter has fully set. This is the first of two posts today. Enjoy!
I’m really baffled as to how this song came to be associated with Christmas. Anyone know? I love this bouncy, horny version (horny as in brass horns, you perverts!).
Put on your smoking jacket, pour yourself some brandy, and relax next to the fire. This is smooth.
Then nothing will. (MP4 file.)
Yep, this one is just kind of creepy. Creepy in that “kiss her once for me” kind of way.
Okay, now this is horny as in let’s be naughty under the mistletoe. Actually, that might be too innocent for Kay Martin.
A little different post today—I don’t have this song, unfortunately, and we’re going to YouTube it. When I was a kid, I used to listen to Dr. Demento every Sunday night on Magic 99. It was the highlight of my week—yes, those were dark days for me! I taped the songs off the radio… Wow, I’m not doing myself any favors here, am I? Anyway, one of my favorite songs from the doctor’s annual Christmas show was “Santa, Welcome to the Modern World.” Years passed. I all but forgot about this song but then it hit me tonight—just popped into my head. So I did a little Googling on the interwebs and found this. It’s not a video. It’s not an MP3. It’s just the song. If anyone out there has this though, let me know—I’d love it.
Nothing tops Darlene but this stripped version holds its own.
One of the best modern Christmas songs, especially for those who love reverb.
So wait, why is he running out the back door? Oh…
A rap classic.
PC posted this a few days back. I love both the studio and this live version.
The first true snowfall of the year and I couldn’t be happier. Central Virginia doesn’t get nearly enough of the white stuff, and it was all the more beautiful that it came on a weekend, when I could sit in my office at the computer and watch the flakes out the window. Unfortunately, it will be gone too soon, but at least there were a few hours of that silent tranquility.
PC reports a wicked cold front moving into Chi-town. And that means he had to give up eating those fudgesicles. I believe he’s now working with kebob sticks.
Stripped down and bare.
This song inspires some great versions. This is the opposite of the Jigsaw Seen track from a few days back—full of reverb, whistling, and menace.
Looking at that white blanket out my window, this seemed a perfect fit. There’s no way that this song could sound anymore melancholy.
The Handsome Family is gothic country at its very best. Whether or not this is a true Christmas song is debatable. However, what’s not up for argument is the awesomeness of this song.
The holidays should usually be a blast, but I realize more and more, my favorite songs of the season aren’t about joy or happiness. They’re about loneliness, death, and sorrow. But relax—I don’t want to depress everyone so I threw in two bouncy tunes to clean your palette of the salty taste of your own tears.
I know PC is enjoying his first snowfall in the second city. The weather forced him to abandon his project of sculpting a life-size Santa out of the mud of Lake Michigan. Now, he’s working on building a life-size replica of Santa’s sleigh out of fudgesicle sticks. And is he ever eating the fudgesicles! I told him to just let them melt but he insisted that it would be cheating. Hopefully he can get a picture up of his progress, just as soon as his body temperature rises to a level where he’s capable of basic hand-eye coordination.
The twenty-fifth day of December in the last month of the year. (Yes, this is one of the happy tunes!)
A choice nugget from Mann’s fantastic holiday album, One More Drifter in the Snow, has some fantastic images. There’s just something here that drives you into a depression—the commercialism, the starless sky, and the endless search for comfort.
Me? I’ll bounce right back. Something tells me that she won’t. Dolly nails the restless, aimless days of spending the holiday season alone.
A true bluegrass weeper with an important message—don’t forget to call your mother on Christmas.
This seems like a natural follow-up—another staggering tearjerker.
And yet another song about facing death at Christmas—this one is about the death of Vince Gill’s brother. Gill, a supremely underrated as a modern country artist, has a voice that could carry the weight of Santa’s sleigh.
Enough with the downers! Let’s close out today with that bloody Red Baron. Merry Christmas, my friend!
Today brings a special treat for those who enjoy my Santa drawings—several in one! Maybe I shouldn’t assume anyone enjoys my crude childish drawings. First up, we h
ave Triangle Santa, followed by Iwo Jima Santa. Of course there’s The Old Santa and the Sea. And my favorite of the year thus far, a little tribute to my dearly beaten-up Steelers. Let’s hope no. 43 can get out on the field before he delivers presents this year.
I’ll close out the year with a new Santa (or two) everyday. PC has promised that he is going to hand-sculpt a life-size Santa out of the mud of Lake Michigan. I’m sure he’ll get right on that.
I’ve hopefully fixed the links from the first day. If there are problems today, I’m going to hang my head in shame and find something else. But we’ll try it again.
Year in and year out, I usually love pretty much every version of this song—we’ll certainly post many more. But Fahey is absolutely one of the best musicians to ever pick the guitar.
Yes, Santa Claus is coming. But come on—say it like you mean it. I bet the big man hears this scream all the way in North Pole.
There aren’t many modern Christmas songs that I’d put in the cannon, but this quirky, bouncy tune would perhaps make the list.
This one is a bona-fide classic in my book. No matter the eccentricities and drunken debacle, the holiday is ultimately about family. Kudos to Keen for his recent cameo in The New Yorker.
About half-way through you get to hear Jerry Reed tear into a solo. An underrated guitarist and sadly, the Snowman is no longer with us.
Paint It Black meets Christmas. I love the full-on force of this track. Few Christmas songs make you want to pump your fist. This one does.