Sunday, December 06, 2015

My Musical Advent Calendar

"Green Christmas" /
Barenaked Ladies

To my mind, the real version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is the 1966 animated short with Boris Karloff's voiceover; I never saw the live-action 2000 film with Jim Carrey.  Why on earth pump up a charming perfect fable with all that extra plot and action and special effects?

Nevertheless, the movie has a super-duper soundtrack, from which I've pilfered several holiday tracks. Here's track 3, by the always fun Canadian band Barenaked Ladies (whose 2004 album Barenaked for the Holidays is also worth checking out, if you're a holiday music junkie like me).

The idea of a "green Christmas" -- as opposed to a white Christmas, I suppose -- makes me fret about climate change, or about living in Los Angeles. But I assume this Christmas is green because it's seen through the eyes of the ultimate green-skinned sourpuss, Mr. Grinch.

As he catalogs all the trappings of Christmas that he hates -- presents!  shop displays! tree decorations!  icicles! carolers! stockings! -- the loping lilt of this song simultaneously allows us to stroll through, enjoying it all.  Barenaked Ladies songs always have deft lyrics; I particularly dig the image of "Five red mittens drying on the rack / And needles shedding tannenbaum."  I can almost taste the cocoa.

In the bridge, the singer explains why the Grinch is so green: "Green, cause of everything I miss / All this mistletoe, no kiss / And with every Christmas wish / There would be no greater gift / Than to have this envy lift."  Hmmm... in Dr. Seuss's original book, the Grinch was simply a Scrooge-like fellow (we all know someone like that) who hated Christmas and wanted to ruin it for others; the fact that he hates it because he's jealous of Whoville's happiness doesn't come out until the end.  Having the Grinch be this self-aware in the beginning of the movie kinda spoils it for me. 

But if it's not about the Grinch -- just someone who can't get into the Christmas spirit this year, for one reason or another (and we all know someone like that, too) -- then this jaunty little song works very well.  The way that melodic line bounces up the scale, the buoyant yearning of the bridge -- sounds to me like this Grinch has already rediscovered the reason for the season.  I know I have.

1 comment:

Nancy Barker said...

Never heard of this song until today Holly H!! May be growing on me :)