Some of you might be aware that my brother, Sean, and I have this phrase that we plan on developing into a book and/or film someday. That phrase, my friends, is Mesh Christmas.
We came up with it (I can’t remember which of us was the first to say it, but we’re equally credited with coining the phrase) one night years ago, upon noticing the rag-tag nature of Christmas lights and various other holiday paraphernalia that decorated our neighborhood. It just all seemed so arbitrary and jumbled, the way one ten-foot strand of multicoloured lights connected with a four-foot strand of blinking white lights, with the rest of the roof decorated with hanging icicle lights. Or the not-quite-sufficiently inflated Frosty sitting on a grassy lawn, or the plastic Santa lit up and tied to the top of a palm tree.
Mesh Christmas is a way of life, at least during the holiday season. Yes, at first glance a Mesh Christmas house can appear pathetic. But at the heart of it, Mesh Christmas carries a wondrous and complex spirit full of paradoxes. A participator of Mesh Christmas does not merely sit idly by and let the holiday season pass through unnoticed, nor does a Mesh Christmas practitioner become overly concerned with a show of outward superiority—in short, a properly decorated Mesh Christmas house conjoins childlike enthusiasm with haphazard carelessness. Who gives a crap if my decorations have absolutely no symmetry or even a consistent theme? It’s Christmas, and I’m gonna throw my tawdry lights anywhere I please, thank you very much.
Anyway, in the spirit of Mesh Christmas, I decided to make my holiday edition of Mix Tape a tribute to the outer fringes of gaudiness. Here are some of my favorite songs of Christmas kitsch. Most of them are not actually tacky, per se, but they’re at least unorthodox enough to satisfy the roster. AND there are exactly 25 tracks, coincidentally just the appropriate amount for a Christmas album! Sometimes my unplanned genius scares me.
So here’s a hearty “Happy Mesh Christmas!” to all you dear Creeter Readers.
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Mix Tape Tuesday – Mesh Christmas 2008!
1. Countdown to Christmas Party Time – XTC. This one is entirely too much fun to dance to. XTC had another Christmas song, which you’ve probably heard if you’ve ever stepped inside a mall during the months of November and December. I prefer this one, because it has more groove-factor. Plus it’s great to mimic the increased frenzy with each day in the countdown.
2. Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer Mambo – Billy May. Another one that’s more awesome than just plain gaudy. It’s not Christmas in my family until this song is played.
3. Sister Winter – Sufjan Stevens. A sad and beautiful original tune by Sufjan. You should check out his entire Christmas box collection, it’s got lots of good stuff. Including a bunch of stuff he’s written and drawn. Seriously, it’s a great gift for anyone who enjoys the Suf-man.
4. We Wish You a Turtles Christmas – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Okay, now we’re gettin’ to the truly awkward stuff. I feel obligated to stress the fact that this is not the “Coming Out of Our Shells” tour Ninja Turtles. They were actually fun and had a tinge of awesomeness to their kitsch. All of the songs on this album (yes, unfortunately, there was an entire album) are horridly difficult to sit through. And the between-song banter is even worse. Maybe I’ll put a song from Coming Out of Our Shells on a future Mix Tape so you can see how a Ninja Turtles album is supposed to go.
5. I Wonder As I Wander – Wovenhand. Back to the serious Christmas music. Wovenhand is David Eugene Edwards, formerly of 16 Horsepower. He’s from the Sounds Familyre label. Anyway, I love his music, which is occasionally defined as “brimstone rock” or “folk gothic.”
6. O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Sufjan Stevens. Yeah, I’ve got a few Sufjan songs on here, mostly because he’s got so many of them. I like this full version of the song, but the reprise later on is really beautiful. But I’m gonna make you wait for it. Ha!
7. Santa is the Greatest (Surf-Rap) – Nichole & the Dreamcatchers. This song (and a few others on here) came from an album I downloaded a few years ago, called Krismus Karuls. I can’t remember which site I got it from, but it had some connection with Sufjan and Half-Handed Cloud and other Sounds Familyre friends. Most of it consisted of songs by this truly gifted 12-year-old girl with amazing vocal power. She wrote them herself, if you can believe it!
8. Winter Wonderland – The Roches. These three sisters are amazing. Read about them, won’t you?
9. Ah-Ooh-Nee-Oh – Mary Krismus. Another track from Krismus Karuls. I love this woman, whoever she is.
10. What’s This? – Danny Elfman. It’s fairly appropriate, no?
11. O Holy Night – Sufjan Stevens. This is my favorite version of this song. I truly and honestly enjoy it. The cracked voices and imprecise nature of it adds to the beauty, I think. And even if you don’t agree, you can at least agree that it fits into the Mesh Christmas spirit.
12. Joy to the World – The Fab Four. This song cracks me up. It’s great when songs do a bait and switch. For instance: “Yea! it’s a classic Beatles tune! Whaaaaat? Christmas?” Fantastic.
13. The Chanukah Song – Adam Sandler. I wouldn’t be a proper aspiring Jewess if I didn’t include at least one Chanukah song. So what better than The Chanukah Song?
14. Happy Christmas Song – Jessichristmas. This is a very special track by my friend, and one that is being used without permission, I must admit. So, sorry Jess, I can take it off if you want. She also does a great rendition of Blue Christmas, by the by.
15. What a Day for a Dog of Gold – Nichole & the Dreamcatchers. Oh, Nichole, I wonder how you feel about that album wandering over the internet? Rest assured you brought a lot of genuine smiles to my face. I hope you kept up with your vocal career.
16. Winter Wonderland – Flemming & Jon. I love fake lounge room noises in songs.
17. O Come, O Come Emmanuel [reprise] – Sufjan Stevens. Here’s what I’m talking about.
18. Sleigh Ride – C-3PO with R2-D2. I’m trying to remember where I got this….I think Dan gave it to me. Well, thanks, Dan. Thanks for spreading the Mesh Christmas love.
19. Deck the Halls – The Roches. Here are those crazy sisters again!
20. Go Tell it on the Mountain (for Cousin Paul) – Mary Krismus. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: I honestly love this woman.
21. Riu Chiu – The Monkees. This is one of my favorite Monkees songs. They performed it at the end of their Christmas episode. It’s a 16th century Spanish carol.
22. What Sweet Child O’ Mine Is This? – Joey Sehee. Honestly, what’s better than a Guns’n’Roses tune morphed into a cheesy lounge Christmas song? My favorite part: “When we feel our world spinning out of control and we just want to throw up….our hands…” I’d say that’s just about on par with “I hate the homeless….ness problem that plagues this city.”
23. All the King’s Horns – Sufjan Stevens. More Sufjan, what can I say?
24. Don’t Be Scared There is a Savior – Joel Pickell. Another from Krismus Karuls. I like the lo-fi quality. But then, I’m a lo-fi kinda girl.
25. Jingle Bells – Christmas 1978. This last one is also from Krismus Karuls. I think part of why I love it so much (besides the wonderful home-movie aspect) is that the man introducing it sounds exactly like Michael Nesmith circa 1997.