Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Let's Hope It's a Good One, Without Any Fear

Wow, I really haven’t written all semester. Haven’t had time to do much of anything…which is probably good, since I haven’t been stuck inside my own head stewing over things. Really can’t find much to brood about, anyhow. Cept maybe how environmental ethics is making me care less and less about my major cause there’s no way to make everyone happy and nobody can come up with a compelling argument in any direction, but that’s for another entry.

“So, this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over, and a new one just begun…”

I’ve done quite a lot, actually. Funny how the most event-filled years seem to zip by. So much has changed, and for once, I think I’ve changed along with the circumstances, and probably for the better. But the year in retrospect shall, too, be for another entry.

And I’ve a feeling that’s not what John Lennon and Yoko Ono were thinking when they wrote “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”. It’s a song protesting the Vietnam War, and for it to be about personal accomplishments and strife would be nearly as selfish as a song about all the material goods you want this year (so hurry down the chimney tonight!). Christmas is, of course, a celebration of the birth of Christ, but from a secular lens it seems to boil into two things: presents and dropping everything to spend time with loved ones. Nothing necessarily wrong with the presents part: gift giving, when enough thought is put into it, can be a great expression of love and selflessness (the problem comes when you give gifts to either get one in return or raise someone’s opinion of you). But isn’t it really all about stopping and focusing on what is really important to you? And peace, admirably, was what was important to Lennon.

So here I am, on the 30th anniversary of his assassination (I’m not quite sure of the murder/assassination distinction, but in my mind he was as important/political/whatever the qualification is to warrant this term) thinking about how awesome he was/is. He wasn’t like the celebrities who adopt a cause as a PR stunt; he actually lived what he believed. Where are the people in my generation who just want people to Give Peace a Chance? It’s remarkable that Lennon still inspires young people today, but not nearly enough of them. Famous musicians release new Christmas songs every year; why are there so few that, in the spirit of peace on earth and goodwill towards men, talk about what the world needs? Have we given up?

Not that I necessarily mind commercial Christmas songs. I look forward to the day the local soft rock station starts playing them 24/7 (though recently they’ve started playing them eerily early, making it less special once the holiday season hits). “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree”, “Do You Hear What I Hear”, “I Want a Hippopotomus for Christmas”, “My Grown-Up Christmas List”. Whether religious or secular, novelty songs or serious ones, all of the songs take my mind off of finals, the cold weather, what have you, and get me ready for the month that reminds me of being a kid who barely slept for all of December out of excitement for family, food, and fun (barring maybe “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”…how did a song about date rape end up being played on family-friendly easy listening stations?).

It's not like my taste in Christmas songs has stayed the same throughout, elementary school I always looked forward to the day before winter break when we all gathered in the gym and sang novelty songs; they were so much more enjoyable than the "pretty" songs we sang in chorus (also, in the fifth grade we sang this sound called "Holiday Romance" that had lines like, "Holiday romance in the snow. Though there's a storm, our love will be warm", and at the time it seemed awkward and dirty to us). But now I can barely listen to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" if it hasn't been recorded by Carnie and Wendy Wilson or whoever sang it in the Rankin-Bass movie, and the right version of "O Holy Night" can give me goosebumps. And I never really got the appeal of love songs about Christmas—it’s the one time of year when most songs are about other stuff entirely, and you’re trying to make them just like any other conventional pop song (“Barring Hey San(t)a” by Carnie and Wendy Wilson since I have such fond memories of listening to it as a kid). Funny how you’re faced with the prospect of a month away from someone who’s meant the world to you all semester and BAM! It’s “Bells Will Be Ringing” and “All I Want for Christmas Is You” all Winter Break. (The same logic goes not apply to replacing classic Christmas movies with made-for-TV romcoms…you hear that, ABC family? People of all ages want to watch “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” and put one foot in front of the other with Topper the penguin. One would have to run out of every other winter break boredom-buster (including room cleaning and shoveling your entire neighborhood’s sidewalks) to watch “A Boyfriend for Christmas” (Umm wut, that was supposed to be a made-up title, but it turns out there’s a Hallmark movie with the name. Meh, in that case I shouldn’t judge…maybe it is somehow a wonderful film)

But I digress. Maybe someday radio stations will fill December with the perfect balance of songs that let one escape from the world’s problems and ones that seek to solve them. For now, I shall leave you with a few of my favorite Christamas songs:

1) Stevie Nicks-Silent Night Mmkay, I confess, I like this song more because its' by Stevie than I do because it's a good rendition. But I do appreciate that with a few “Well, it was a”’s it almost sounds like an unfortunate Stevie original [she does have a song with the line, “Well, she dances around in a circle, well…](Also, look what I just found)

2) Wilson Phillips-Hey Santa Like I said…and ignore the cheesetastic video

3) Joan Jett and the Blackhearts-Little Drummer Boy So David Bowie and Bing Crosby also have a beautiful rendition of this. But I’m quite partial to Joan Jett,and of course this version of the song lends itsself to some awesome drum playing, so…

4) No Doubt-Oi to the World My first favorite band ever, so they needed to be included. Yay, punk puns.

5) The Waitresses-Christmas Wrapping¬ This has always been another exception to that “eff love songs at Christmas” thing. Back in high school when Blondie and The Pretenders were all I’d listen to, this was right up my alley. And tells a nice little story. And 2010 has, indeed, been a busy blur. Maybe I don’t have the energy to add to my already mad rush just cause it’s ‘tis the season. But like the protagonist does in the end, surely I shall find the time.

6) 2000 Miles Speaking of The Pretenders and exceptions to rules…

7. The Eagles-Please Come Home For Christmas/Bells Will Be Ringing Just cause it's the Eagles

And finally…

RIP John Winston Ono Lennon

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