My Musical Advent Calendar"Merry Christmas to the Family" /
Instead of a glitter-spangled scene with doors for every day of December, how about a daily treat from my iTunes holiday playlist?
Ah, yes, let's get ourselves in a holiday mood with this deliciously dyspeptic charmer, written by the brilliant Texas country songwriter Robert Earl Keen Jr. and sung by the subversively charming Jill Sobule. You can find it on You Sleigh Me, a 1995 Atlantic Records compilation of Christmas songs by various of the label's artists. (This would have been just after Jill's self-titled sophomore album and her first MTV hit "I Kissed A Girl".) No wonder she looks like a kid in this video:
An interesting choice for a young pop hopeful, on an LP where her label-mates were crooning stuff like "Blue Christmas" and "The First Noel." But then, Jill has always marched to her own drummer, and that wicked glint of humor in her eye is precisely why I love her.
Now that we're sunk deep in the reality TV morass of Honey Boo-Boo and Duck Dynasty, perhaps this dysfunctional family portrait doesn't seem quite as satiric as it did 20 years ago, but it's still a hoot. It's like a slow-motion train wreck, as each ill-assorted family member strolls in the door. I can just feel the downward spiral of events gathering force.
But notice how Keen keeps the sentiment just this side of snarky, mainly with that innocently holy refrain of Feliz Navidad (leave it to a Texan). And Jill brings her own daffy sweetness to the table, judging nobody and ready to go with the flow. Because, hey, why not?
Truth be told, if you strip away the socio-economic particulars, doesn't this out-of-control holiday reunion bear a scary likeness to all our families? The names have been changed to protect the innocent, that's all.