is a theory in the literature world that only seven book plots actually exist. All works of fiction are just
variations of these types of tales.
With all the books in the world, this seems like it’d be impossible, but
if you take a few minutes to look at the list and then start applying it your
latest reads, it’s not as crazy as you’d think. (For the avid readers and
English dorks in my life, click
here for a link.)
listening to Christmas songs more hours a day than I care to admit to, I’ve
decided this theory may apply to our seasonal carols as well. I have well over four hundred songs in
my Christmas playlist and another hundred in my “Quiet Christmas”
mix. But if you really listen to
the lyrics, they can all be stripped down to the following seven basic
Traditional Carols – These are the songs that sound best sung in British
accents while wearing Dickensian dress.
They use words like wassailing, which I never would have known meant
loud, joyous, drinking if it hadn’t been for a radio trivia game, but which I
now love and have tried to work into as many of my Christmas blogs as
possible. Traditional carols are
usually upbeat, easy to sing, and so over played we’ll be singing them well
Give Me Gifts – Truly capturing the spirit of greed, these are songs in which
the vocalist requests or more often demands some form of compensation,
usually for doing very little.
There’s “Santa Baby” where the performer asks for everything
from a car to a fistful of blank checks, usually sung in such a provocative
manner that it leaves the listener wondering just how nice–or naughty–she plans
on being when Santa hurries down her chimney. But my favorite of the Give Me Gifts category has to be
“We Wish You a Merry Christmas” in which it is demanded of the host
that she “bring us some figgy pudding.” The lyrics go on to threaten that “we won’t leave until
we get some!” I’ve never had
figgy pudding, but I can’t imagine it’s so scrumptious I’d throw all manners
out the window for it. Sure, we
all love getting gifts around the holidays, but trading tricks with Santa or
threatening an Occupy Christmas sit-in seems a little severe.
It’s Cold, You’re Hot – Winter has long nights, romantic fires, and plenty of
inhibition annihilating beverages.
We get it. No need to
explain further here. What
perplexes me is how these songs ended up as Christmas Carols. I’m all for romance and free love, but
I also don’t belong to any formal Christian religion. It seems to me songs such as “Baby, It’s Cold
Outside” belong better on the ‘Winter Solstice station’ than on the one
supposedly dedicated to Christmas Music.
And songs like Lady Gaga’s “Christmas Tree” with lines like
“Ho ho ho, under the mistletoe/ Yes, everybody knows/ We will take off our
clothes” would probably just be better left off the air altogether.
Songs Not Intended to Be Christmas Songs – Speaking of songs that don’t seem to
fit, this category is for the misfits of the Christmas Carol world. Did you know Jingle Bells was actually
written for Thanksgiving?
Yup. But since it was
probably the only song written for the holiday, it apparently got lonely and decided
to tag along with the more abundant Christmas tunes. And then there’s “My
Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. Sure, it mentions some
holiday images, but it’s not a Christmas song. Just don’t tell that to every Christmas station going. Of course we could be more
accommodating, as well as more politically correct and just rename everything
labeled Christmas as winter…
Christmas Sucks – …after all, according to the writers of this next group of
songs, Christmastime is a depressing dismal time anyway. I understand that for starving children
in Africa, the homeless, people with lost loves, and people who can’t get home
to be with family, the holidays can be rough, but lamenting about it in a
“Christmas song” just doesn’t seem necessary. Whether you’re religious or not,
Christmas ought to be a time of hope, joy, and, yes, generosity. But reminding me of others’ misery by
droning out a dirge that leaves me wanting to stake myself with a sprig of
holly (thanks, Dickens) isn’t the best way to remind me to help those in need.
Small Squeaky Things Screeching – On the topic of wanting to stick myself with
sharp objects, there are the songs sung by chipmunks, about Donkeys, for
children. And I use the word
signing loosely, because for the most part these songs are screeched, or in
Dominick’s case brayed, I guess. I
suppose if I had children I’d have more tolerance for small squeaky things in
general. And Christmas is supposed to be a holiday for the kiddos. But as a childless adult, is it so
wrong of me to want to set out some d-Con rat poison for Alvin and his friends?
WWJS? (That’s ‘What Would Jesus Sing?’) – The final category of songs might
shock and offend some of us who have become so used to the Christ being
stripped from Christmas. As I said
earlier, I no longer practice an organized religion, but that doesn’t stop me
from getting my groove on to a little “Mary’s Boy Child” every now
and then. Just because you don’t
belong to a particular religion doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate the music and
art that celebrates it, especially when the sentiment is a universal one of
love, family, and devotion.
means a lot of different things to a lot of people. Whether it’s a time to find love, to get it on, to bitch and
moan, or to rock out with baby Jesus, it’s nice to know there’s a soundtrack
out there to suit your purpose. Commence caroling!