Saturday, December 15, 2007

The good, the bad and the merry

I love Christmas music of any variety. But there are some holiday tunes I just can’t handle – like anything by the Carpenters. There must be at least three radio stations in the Albany area that play non-stop Christmas music. But as soon as I hear Karen Carpenter’s voice I reach for the tuner. It’s like a reflex.

But there is one song that I think has the indisputable claim to the Worst Holiday Song of All Time title. I was working out the YMCA recently, listening to seasonal songs on the radio, when “The Christmas Shoes” came on. ARRGGHH!!! When you’re exercising you want energetic music that pumps you up. This song makes you want to slit your wrists. I don’t condone censorship, but I’ll make an exception in this case. This song should be banned from the airwaves forever!

I think my favorite Christmas song on the radio right now is Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan performing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

One of my all-time favorites is “O Holy Night.” I’m a sucker for any version of it – except Mariah Carey’s. I always worry the glass in the windows is going to shatter when she shrieks the high notes.

On another note, while thinking about Christmas music recently it dawned on me that the ongoing writers strike is going to rob all of us of one of my favorite holiday traditions: the “Late Show with David Letterman” Christmas episode. You can count on this episode every year for three things:

  • Paul Shaffer will do his impression of Cher singing the aforementioned “O Holy Night” (“OOOooooo HOOOOooooolllly Night, the stars are brightly shiiiiiiiiining!”).
  • Jay Thomas will come out, as he has every year since 1998, and tell his classic Lone Ranger story and then he and Dave will take part in the Late Show Quarterback Challenge (you can read the story and an explanation of the QB Challenge in this recap of last year’s show).
  • And last, but certainly not least, the great Darlene Love comes out to blow the lid off the dump with a rousing rendition of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”

Darlene first performed the song for Letterman in 1986 on “Late Night” on NBC. She appeared on “Late Show” on CBS to do the song in 1994 and has returned every year since (except this year).

Of her 14 Letterman appearances singing this song, I found six on YouTube. I wanted to pick one to post here and narrowed it down to two. When I couldn’t decide further, I figured what the hell, let’s post them both. You decide which one is better.

First up is the 2000 appearance. Darlene is backed up by the Singing Sergeants of the U.S. Air Force and the performance was broadcast live to service members overseas.

Next up is last year’s appearance. This slightly extended version (compared to the other clips I found) is another show-stopper, complete with a sleigh on stage and a brief appearance by Late Show’s Grinder Girl and Hula Hoop Girl.


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