This is a reposting of a blog entry that was originally published on OpenSalon.com on December 14, 2010. This is the second in a series of Christmas-themed posts.
Filmmaker/writer/artist John Waters truly is the Pope of good-bad taste.
It comes as no surprise, then, that 2004′s JW-curated disc, A John Waters Christmas, really sets a gold standard in great yuletide music WTF?-ism. AJWC is a distinct alternative to the typical seasonal music fare, exploring a diverse variety of genres—ranging from foul-mouthed redneck C&W to a delightful yuletide toe-tapper played on a Theremin—and is one of the few Christmas discs to come with a content warning label.
As expected, a High “am I really hearing this?” Quotient is front and centre on AJWC, particularly in the case of such questionable tunes as Little Cindy’s execrable Happy Birthday Jesus and the-beyond-maudlin cringefest that is Little Mary Christmas, possibly the only Christmas song about a plucky disabled orphan, smiling through the tears. At least it has a happy ending.
Waters also includes several intentionally fun/silly tracks such as Santa Claus Is A Black Man and The Chipmunks’ spin on Sleigh Ride while wisely throwing some full-on terrific old-school R&B numbers into the mix, such as Big Dee Irwin & Little Eva’s I Wish You A Merry Christmas and Stormy Weather’s doo-wop selection, Christmas Time Is Coming.
With a cover featuring Mr. Waters looking calmly concerned as a Christmas tree bursts into flames beside him, A John Waters Christmas will truly aid in making your Holiday a ridiculous one—in the best possible sense.
Here are links to fan-created videos for two tracks from the disc: first, Little Cindy’s, ahem, “charming” Happy Birthday Jesus (this video is set to a great little clip from The Exorcist, LOL) ….
… and, well I don’t know what to say about this one except Beware—my spouse and I routinely find ourselves aimlessly wandering around our house, compulsively chirping this nauseatingly cute confection against our better judgement, driving each other nuts in the process: Rita Faye Wilson singing Sleigh Bells, Reindeer and Snow.
To complete the John Waters Christmas experience, I would strongly recommend reading his hilarious essay, Why I Love Christmas, originally published in his 1986 collection, Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters. Back when I was a college radio DJ, I made sure to read this piece over the course of the morning during each pre-Xmas show, sandwiched between the most bizarre seasonal numbers I could find (Wild Man Fischer’s I’m A Christmas Tree was a perennial favourite). If Waters’ seasonal wit doesn’t get you fired up on Xmasmania, complete with double rum-and-egg nogs, then I’m afraid nothing will.
While I’m at it, his most recent book—this year’s Role Models—would make the perfect gift for the humorously twisted in your circle. The chapter on Baltimore dives and their denizens, particularly the life of lesbian stripper Lady Zorro, is worth the price of admission alone.
Other Christmas-Themed Entries:
Xmas #1: December 1986: My 3 Xmas Weekends From Hell Snuggle in for a heartwarming seasonal tale of being a store manager and having to endure armed robberies, flouncing Christian employees, slap-happy Santa helpers, and looting mall rats. Merry Christmas to one and all!
Xmas #2: Twisted Seasonal Sounds: A John Waters Christmas The Pope of Filth curates what is probably the most “unique” collection of seasonal tunes on the market, filled with redneck children singing Happy Birthday to Jesus, ornery’n’tourette-inflected C&W, Theremin-driven toe tappers, and other joyfully questionable sonic Christmas delights.
Xmas #3: Ludicrous Seasonal TV: Star Wars Holiday Special George Lucas once said of this special “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.” Read here and find out why.
Xmas #4: KA-CHING-A-LING: Xmas Advertising Highlights 1949-2011 A collection of seasonal ads from my magazine archives, taken from a variety of international publications spanning 60 years. Which items were singled out as worthy Christmas lucre from then until now, and how were these retail treasures flogged and positioned? And what do you need and need to know about seasonal entertaining: the booze, the turkey and fixins, the cards, the decorations, and so on, as well as how to capture it all for posterity.
Xmas #5: Christmas Advertising: LIFE Magazine, November 30, 1959 This entry zeros in on the Christmas-related ads featured in a single issue of LIFE from November 30, 1959. What was being proffered up as gifts and seasonal accoutrements during those final weeks of the 1950s, and how were they being depicted and sold? These specimens bark out the rigidity and restrictions of the day as the epoch of the 1960s was about to commence.
Xmas #6: I Believe In Father Christmas, or: Brown Shoes Don’t Make It We all find out the truth about Santa Claus at some point. Here is my story of crestfallen discovery and it involves … my dad’s shoes.
Xmas #7: VariousArtists’ 12 Days of Christmas Viewing A dozen alternative xmas-y eyeball suggestions that you may wish to consider, even if a few of them take liberties with the concept of being Christmas-related (and two look forward to New Year’s Eve).
Xmas #8: VA-Tel presents 20 OUTTASIGHT XMAS SENSATIONS! Here’s some fun’n’hip shakin’ musical accompaniment for the annual Santafest. This splendiferous list mostly avoids the obvious or overly solemn, and should get the gang groovin’ at your seasonal shindig while helping to mask the sound of partygoers vomiting in the bathroom after too many Baileys … or drive everyone swiftly out the door, depending on the circles you run in. (A playlist of this terrific 20 can be found over on my YouTube channel, VATV). Featuring the Ramones, Jingle Cats, Judy Garland, Wild Man Fischer, Sharon Jones, RuPaul and many more.