From the years 2000 – 2013, L.A. Beat Music editor Bob Lee created annual compilations of all of his favorite and hard-to-find Holiday music called “Thanks for Christmas.” He has created a Spotify list this year with 100 of the best cuts to share with you. You might have to sign up for a Spotify account, but it’s free. Oh, and commercials–sorry.
These are not your standard carols, although some do appear in unusual renditions, like “Greensleeves” by Wes Montgomery, “The Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer Mambo” by Billy May, and “Silent Night” by the Dickies. The mix is heavily weighted towards punk rock, Motown and surf music, with everything from the Ronettes to Sonic Youth.
One of Bob’s favorites is “Santa’s in a Wheelchair” by the Kids of Whidney High, which sounds horrible at first, but it’s by kids from a school for disabled students, and is about Santa overcoming a disability to be able to give out the presents, with a little help from the students of Whidney High. According to Bob, some of the most beautiful Christmas songs are tracks from the Roches, an a capella sister group from New Jersey. Another touching song called “Christmas will be Magic Again,” from The International Language, is about someone moving to L.A. and missing the wintertime. Ok, it’s a song bagging on L.A., but Bob is a transplant and really feels this one.
Local L.A. artists like the Creamers, Descendents, The Shitbirds, The Bomboras, and El Vez are represented, as well as The Muffs, who sadly lost guitarist and lead singer Kim Shattuck this year.
Unfortunately, a number of L.A.-centric songs, like Redd Kross’ “Super Sunny Christmas” are not on Spotify. Neither is the eponymous “Thanks for Christmas” by XTC.
A number of my personal favorites are in this collection, like “Christmas in Hollis,” by Run D.M.C. “Father Christmas,” from the Kinks, “Marshmallow World” by Darlene Love, “2000 Miles” from The Pretenders, “I’m Gonna Lasso Santa Claus” by Brenda Lee, and The Beach Boy’s “The Man with all the Toys.” It even has the hilarious and naughty “Homo Christmas” from Pansy Division.
Bob’s love for this music is that it’s about the holiday itself, not about a particular religion or Jesus. In fact, the holiday is older than Jesus. At the beginning of winter, right as everything is getting dark and cold and kind of scary, the whole town will take the day off and get together with family and eat good food, and sing songs and be a little bit nicer to each other than every other day. It’s important for human survival during the harsh winter months. “Even traditions that are kind of corny, I think are positive. It’s fun to sing songs, but those songs don’t have to be corny. It’s not about the kind of music; it’s about everybody getting involved.”