Home > christmas, music > The Den Mother’s Christmas Music Sampler, Vol. 6

The Den Mother’s Christmas Music Sampler, Vol. 6

Monday, December 20, 2010, 10:27 EST Leave a comment Go to comments

(Click here to listen to today’s music in a separate window/tab while you read about it below. The player seems to be a bit temperamental today, so if it gets stuck and refuses to advance to the next song, just click on the song to get it restarted.)

Every few years, someone makes a Christmas song designed to convey a social or political message, something beyond the customary generic peace-on-earth-goodwill-toward-men theme. Here are some of the best from throughout my lifetime.

  • In “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night,” Simon & Garfunkel combine the quintessential Christmas hymn with a simulated 1966 newscast. The contrast between “sleep in heavenly peace” and the troublesome headlines of that time is poignant. See Lyrics Freak for the text of the news.
  • At the height of the Vietnam War, John Lennon and Yoko Ono bought billboard space in several major cities on which they proclaimed, “War Is Over! (If you want it). Happy Christmas from John and Yoko.” A couple of years later, Lennon repeated the theme with his 1971 song “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”
  • Greg Lake called his 1975 song “I Believe in Father Christmas” a commentary on the commercialization of Christmas, but according to lyricist Peter Sinfield, it is really about loss of innocence and childhood belief. I think it works on both counts. Plus I like the singer’s first name.
  • “Father Christmas” made another appearance in 1977, this time with The Kinks, who sang about street kids threatening to beat up Santa if he doesn’t give them money. The toys, they tell Santa, can go to “the little rich boys.”
  • The Ethiopian famine of 1984 provided the ideal reason to make a Christmas song for a cause—and for money for famine relief. Band Aid, a project involving dozens of British and Irish musicians, recorded and released “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” just in time to appeal to the world’s charitable holiday sensibilities.
  • I have no idea who Steve Wash, Jr., is. But when he came up on Amazon.com as a free Christmas download, I took a chance. “The Christmas Rap” (2010) talks about what’s really important.
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