"Please Daddy (Don't Get
Drunk This Christmas)" /
One last dysfunctional Christmas tune -- and this one's a beaut.
You'll find this gem on the 2007 compilation An Alternative Rock X-Mas (accept no substitutions).
It's a cover, actually, of a 1973 John Denver song -- who knew John Denver could go this dark? -- and it was written by Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert of the Starland Vocal Band, whose big hit was "Afternoon Delight." So, yeah, we're bucking the odds here. But this delicious holiday anti-classic is squarely in the camp of Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas to the Family," a trailer-trash anthem to the holiday season as way more people than we'd like to admit know it.
When the Decemberists sing it, of course, it sounds like a sea shanty. But then, most everything the Decemberists do ends up sounding like a sea shanty.
Due to some conspiracy between YouTube and BlogSpot, I couldn't upload the otherwise-available-to-all-users YouTube video of this song, so I made my own. (Which took AGES.) And I stole a picture of the Decemberists on The Simpsons because it makes my heart happy to think that the Decemberists were featured on an episode of The Simpsons.
I love the Decemberists. An alt band out of Portland that's addicted to old-school British folk? Naturally that hits all my hot buttons. You got your post-modern irony, but you've also got a healthy dose of loving respect for the music that went before.
One of my favorite Christmas tunes when I was a tot was "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," a kids-view version of Christmas with an ironic adult twist. We all know that Santa Claus is Daddy in a cotton-floss beard, but the kiddo hasn't a clue. This gorgeous little number takes the same kid-centric view, but Daddy isn't just giving Mommy a peck on the cheek -- he's staggering into the house drunk as a skunk, and Mommy's pissed as hell.
I love the specificity here. "Last year when I was only seven / Now I'm almost eight as you can see / You came in at quarter past eleven / Fell down underneath the Christmas tree." (The difference between seven and eight is so important when you're eight.) The kid has scars, I tell you, scars. And his Christmas joy is seriously compromised.
Last year, Mommy sent him upstairs, but the kid's seen enough. And naturally he takes her side. "I don't wanna see my momma cry," he urgently repeats. (Kids siding with their moms? Hellyeah.)
Well, we're not eight -- we are older than that -- and personally I'm siding with Mommy. And worrying about the kid. And maybe phoning my lawyer.