Posts Tagged ‘humor’

“Christmas Eve/Sarajevo” by The Trans-Siberian Orchestra

December 11, 2012

Last night, around 8:45 PM, I crashed. My day had consisted of work, the commute home, a simple dinner, clean up, two rounds of “Hip-Hop Dance Party” with my son, and then collapsing on the couch.

The aforementioned child, meanwhile, was still going strong. He had played a total of nine rounds of the same game and was still spinning and doing his own personal version of breakdancing. When he got bored with that, he swooped into the next room to play Nerf basketball. This was after a full day of school, an hour of running around at aftercare, homework, studying, and various other activities.

Eight years old. 9:00 PM. Raring to go. His parents told him it was time for bed, and he dragged us upstairs and put us to sleep.

Two years ago, the whirling dervish who is my child became enamored with today’s song. Part of his affection for this piece is related to the initial reactions of his parents to it. The first time we all heard it, it was playing loudly on the radio at the end of Thanksgiving. I looked at my husband with weary eyes and said, “This is not relaxing holiday music.”

“I know,” he answered. “This sounds like something that should be playing while you’re dodging sniper fire.”

Immediately our son burst out laughing. This led to all of us posing increasingly outlandish scenarios set to the background of “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo”—dogs leaping over piles of rubble, babies parachuting from planes, old men catching one another as they jumped from burning buildings.

And the song was, begrudgingly by some and lovingly by one, adopted as a holiday family favorite.

Last week, my husband called me while I was at work. It was around 4:00 PM. I asked how his day was and how our son was doing. “He’s on the couch taking a nap,” was the response. “He said he had a headache.” I immediately knew I would be home from work the next day to take care of him, because he was getting sick. The only time the tempo slows, the volume lowers, the energy dwindles is when my son is not feeling well. Mercifully, those times are rare.

This song captures something internal about my little guy and his character since he was born—filled with manic energy, experiencing life with intensity, interpreting his world in a unique and imaginative way. At times he overwhelms me, like last night, when all I wanted was to rest quietly and all he wanted was for me to set up his LEGO Website account, help him write notes to MistleJoe the Elf, watch the new dance he created to “Sexy and I Know It,” and quiz him for his upcoming Social Studies test. All within 15 minutes.

But while he was sleeping on the couch last week, not himself, all I could think was how wrong things were. Even if my internal holiday radio is generally set to Johnny Mathis or Annie Lennox, I’ve gotten used to our external Christmas life being set to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

And I really wouldn’t want it any other way.


“This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway

December 10, 2012

Dear Santa Claus:

This letter is a request to help make my Christmas very special.

I listen to the radio, both traditional and satellite, a lot during the holidays. I know that I have the option of turning to my own music collection, and I sometimes do, but I have always enjoyed the random nature of radio–the anticipation of wondering what the next tune will be and the hope that I’ll hear one of my favorites when I need it most. I know I can always play a great song 100 times in a row if I want to, and sure, I enjoy that. But there still is nothing like listening to the radio and hearing that same song pop on after waiting patiently through seemingly endless commercials and jingles, smiling silently as I know that timing and fate conspired to ensure that my ears were in the right place at the right time.

For fans of the holiday music genre, this time of year requires a certain tolerance of repetition. There are only so many holiday songs, and most stations rely on a small selection of well-known favorites. Stations try to minimize the repetition by trotting out the same songs, but spicing things up by including different versions by assorted artists. I don’t mind this–in fact, in several cases, I welcome it. Even with some of my most preferred songs, by some of my most beloved artists, I am happy to hear alternative interpretations. The best example of this would involve “Wonderful Christmastime.” I really always want to hear My Sir Paul alone sing it. But I can grant that The Shins just released a decent, listenable cover, and about five years ago, Jars of Clay did an awesome version for which I give them eternal props.

But some songs really should be played only in one version. And for me that’s true of “This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway.

Why would I want to look at a fifth-grader’s attempt to mimic Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh? Why would I watch Gus Van Sant’s lame attempt at Psycho with Vince Vaughn when Alfred Hitchcock got it perfect the first time with Anthony Perkins? And why would I ever, ever want to hear anyone else sing this song, rendered in perfect voice by the original artist, at the right tempo, with an awesome band behind him?

Could you consider working a little Christmas magic over the radio stations and, when it’s time for this song to be in rotation, for them to play it only in Donny’s incarnation? Even the late Amy Winehouse knew there was nothing anyone could teach that she couldn’t learn from Mr. Hathaway.

As I said earlier, I know that when it comes to Christmas music there’s not a ton of variety with which to work. So if we can’t strike a deal to limit “This Christmas” to my preferred version only, can I at least ask to somehow be spared the following:

  • Chris Brown’s version, because I don’t want to think of him luring any young woman to spend a very special Christmas with him
  • Christina (or should I say Xtina) Aguilera’s version, because she sounds like she’s having indigestion, Tourette’s syndrome, a stroke, or maybe all three through most of it, and I can’t take it
  • Above all, Gloria Estefan’s misguided and headache-inducing version, which includes cheesy, dated synthesizers, a cutesy children’s choir (never, in my opinion, the right backup group for a sexy, romantic number in which the lead singer pleads to “hang all the mistletoe, I want to get to know you better”), and strained vocals way outside her narrow and limited range

I’ve been really good this year. You already knew this, being Santa and all.

Merry Christmas. XO. Shake a hand, shake a hand now.


A Lifelong Fan and True Believer