July 25, 2008


I know—this Christmas in July is a bit lackluster. I’m sorry. Had some car issues I had to tend to, and I just didn’t have the time to roll em out like last year. That’s the nice thing about our holiday season here—you’ll get two solid months of hardcore Christmas, if there can be such a thing.

Speaking of which—I met someone today who just didn’t like Christmas. It wasn’t the commercialism or the decorations. She just flat out didn’t like it. Rather than argue with Susie Q. Grinch, I just kept quiet. I guess if you don’t feel that holiday spirit—the music, the family, the friends, and the decorations—you just don’t feel it. That’s a shame. Luckily, we feel it here every single day of the year.

If Everyday Were Like Christmas – Elvis Presley

Calling On Mary – Aimee Mann

Frosty the Snowman – Leon Redbone and Dr. John

Just Like Christmas – Low

One of You (In Every Size) – Marty Robbins

I’ll be back tomorrow, a day late, but we’ll do this thing up proper!

July 23, 2008

Back Friday

Such is life, things pop up now and again. I'll be away from the computer for the next two days and will have to make up for it on Friday and Saturday. I suppose I could make posts with my iPhone but I just got it and honestly, I have no idea how to go about that! So, see you in a few days.

July 22, 2008

Some Depression

Some of my favorite Christmas tunes are ripe melancholy. Sure, I love the upbeat around that time of year, but there’s something great about the following songs. They don’t hide their sadness or misery, no matter how catchy.

7 O’Clock News/Silent Night – Simon and Garfunkle

Oh, how that newscast could be updated to fit with today.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Pedro the Lion

Stripped down and beautiful, this has become one of my favorite versions. The vocals sound pained and there are points where you wonder if he can finish.

Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day – Brenda Lee

My Queen of Christmas.

If We Make It through December – Merle Haggard

Thanks to PC for reminding me of this one. Written in the grasp of the 1970s recession, it’s looking like this song might continue to resonate this year.

Call Collect on Christmas – Del McCoury

An all-out bluegrass tear-jerker—when your mother asks you to call on Christmas, do as she says.

Please Come Home for Christmas – Charles Brown

There are other versions—this is the best.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Judy Garland

And the same with this—nothing beats Judy’s original, the hands-down winner for the most depressing Christmas song ever written.

Christmas In Paradise – Mary Gauthier

If you don’t know Mary Gauthier, seek her out. She’s similar to Lucinda Williams and Kathleen Edwards—female singer/songwriters who write some of the most painfully honest songs.

Merry Christmas from the Family – Robert Earl Keen

Lastly, here’s a mix of happy/sad. Sure, the family has some problems—what family doesn’t? But there’s something nice about this song. At least, no matter how much eggnog is consumed or Marlboro Lights are smoked, the folks are together.

July 21, 2008

Some Dedications

Happy Christmas in July! For the next week, you're going to take a sleigh ride through some holiday tunes. Central Virginia is burning up—the air outside feels thick as butter. And I here PC is sweating the pounds off out in Chicago. All the more reason to celebrate a cold winter holiday.

As we usually do during July, we’ll throw up a few new tracks (for 77 Santas at least) and some old. So turn up the air conditioner and construct some kind of elaborate snow-making machine in your house (we’re not engineers and have no suggestions—you’re on your own). Dig out the Christmas lights and hang them up outside--people will think you're crazy but who cares.

Purple Snowflakes – Marvin Gaye

Hear those flakes fall—the music almost twinkles here and then Gaye’s great voice kicks in. This one is for PC out in Chi-town.

We Three Kings of Orient Are – The Beach Boys

This one is for Brendan—he runs The Rising Storm, a superb music blog, and is also a huge Beach Boys Christmas album fan. During the “off season” for 77 Santas, I check his site regularly and hope you do as well.

Scarlet Ribbons – Bobbie Gentry

Another blog I check regularly is Living in Stereo. Their writing is often thoughtful, interesting, and lots of fun to read. Last Christmas, they threw up a great post with some amazing tracks. Here are two of them—let’s start with Bobbie. It seems with each passing month, I love this woman more and more.

Gonna Wrap My Heart In Ribbons – Hank Thompson

Here’s another courtesy Living in Stereo. Nothing makes you want to pop open a can of brew quite like Hank Thompson—one of country music’s great unsung heroes.

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love

Finally, this one is for me—throughout the past seven months, on any given day, I have found myself listening to this, my absolute favorite Christmas song (and if you read this regularly, you know my love). Darlene, carry us out of here today.

July 18, 2008

Hard Times Come Again No More

Just an FYI—Christmas in July will start on July 21. Until then, we’ll do a little warm-up with some posts.

First up, the always light-hearted Great Depression. Lately, it’s been near impossible to turn on the television and not hear about oil, subprime mortgages, and corporations on the brink of failure. Our rebate checks, courtesy Uncle Sam, arrived in the mail—did it make a dent for anyone? Helped to pay bills or pay down debt. Times are tough for many, though just fine for the top-tier. That gap between rich and poor grows each year.

Here are some songs to get you through the hard times, most written around the Depression. They need little introduction and speak for themselves.

Hard Times Come Again No More – The Graham Brothers

Bonus: Hard Times – Bob Dylan

Stephen C. Foster wrote this song way back in 1859 and it never achieved the popularity of his other songs during the era. Decades later, the song’s lyrics of troubled-times spoke to a new generation of folk singers and those suffering through economic ruin. This was one of Foster’s favorite songs. As a bonus, here’s Bob Dylan’s take from Good As I Been to You.

How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live? – Blind Alfred Reed

Another song recently covered—with significantly altered lyrics—by a prominent American artist (Bruce Springsteen), Blind Alfred Reed’s straight-forward song tells the story of all-out depression ravaging the land. Reed, who was born blind, supposedly died of starvation in 1956.

It’s Hard Time – J.D Short

Short’s vibrato is striking—how many times have singers copied this wholly original style?

Times Is Tight Like That – Bo Carter and Walter Vinson

Carter and Vinson trade verses throughout this song—it’s fun at first but then supremely depressing once the lyrics sink in.

White House Blues – Charlie Poole with The North Carolina Ramblers

Bonus: To Washington – John Mellencamp

The current political implications of this song don’t need to be highlighted (though John Mellencamp recently did his own update). Poole’s version is about the McKinley assassination while Mellencamp uses it for contemporary comment.

July 05, 2008

We Need A Little Christmas; Also, Air Conditioning

77 Santas will return from the summer hiatus on July 21 for Christmas in July. Mark your calendars, block off your vacation days from work, and tell the kids to take themselves to the water park—you’ve got some summer holiday celebrating to do.

Like last year, you can expect some daily songs that will make you want to cover up the pool and hang up some stockings. Who needs bug spray when you’ve got mistletoe? So, like Santa, we’ll be sipping some adult beverages on the beach with the elves for a little while longer. But make sure you stop by to visit.