Alternative festive songs for an unorthodox Christmas

Andy Richardson

This festive season, instead of queuing up the Bublé playlist or Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, maybe slip into something a little different and have yourself a wonderfully unorthodox Christmas.

Tom Petty – Christmas All Over Again (1992)

It always comes too soon right? No doubt because of the ever-earlier reminders we see popping up. Petty’s track perfectly captures the whirlwind that is Christmas and it is a personal favourite of ours.

It’s also, very fittingly, the song Kevin McAllister is listening to in Home Alone 2, while on the wrong flight to New York City. I wonder if Tom ever did get that Rickenbacker Guitar.

 

 

The Kinks – Father Christmas (1977)

By far the most underrated Christmas pop song. Like a lot of the best Christmas songs, the subject matter isn’t all chestnuts and reindeer. Far from it. Dave, Ray and the gang take us on a rocky jaunt through the streets in their slightly twisted slant on a fireside Christmas yarn that involves mugging Santa Claus.

I’m sure there’s a social comment there somewhere.

 

 

John Lee Hooker – Blues For Christmas (1949)

Definitely one for those wee, whiskey soaked hours. John Lee Hooker, the father of the blues, can tell you some sad stories about Christmas I’m sure. But hey, we’ve all had the Christmas blues before; we drink too much, we spend too much, but we do it every year so why fight it?

Pour yourself another drink, undo that top button and just sit back into that inexorable easy chair. 

 

 

The Fall – Hark! The Harold Angels Sing (1994)

Unlike any version a school choir could produce! The Fall are notorious for their off-beat approach to music, and their covers are no exception. This could almost be a Fall original with black-board-scraping “harks” to boot.

No doubt, after a few pints down the local, this is how most Christmas standards would sound. Cheers! Oh and if that intrigued you this Yuletide, why not watch frontman Mark E Smith reading a Christmas ghost story for the BBC here.

 

 

James Brown – Santa Claus, Go Straight to the Ghetto (1972)

You’ve opened your presents, had a few glasses of bubbly. It’s probably about that time where things inevitably start getting funky. No? Well try this one on for size and see if you still disagree.

 

 

The Who – Christmas (1969)

A Who classic, but not so much as a Christmas song, despite the seasonal title.

The track laments on poor Tommy, who cannot see, hear, nor comprehend Christmas. Like a tale from a Dickens novel, this number tugs on the heartstrings in G Major.

 

 

The Damned – There Ain’t No Sanity Claus (1980)

Not only is this a great play on words but it’s also an absolute corker of a Christmas tune. For a motley group of troublemakers, I don’t think they could have just taken to the piano and re-worked “Jingle Bells”.

 

 

Daniel Johnston – Christmas In The Looney Bin (1988)

There’s something about outsider musician Daniel Johnston’s child-like innocence that lends itself so well to Christmas. Although there’s a sadness attached to his music there is also a glimmer of hope in his optimism towards the stars above in this one.

 

 

Tom Waits – Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis (1978)

If anyone can paint a debauched picture in a festive frame, Tom Waits can. The twinkling (slightly inebriated) piano is the bauble in the rough of his voice. It’s beautifully melancholic in both its musicality and narrative. 

 

 

The Vaselines – Sex Sux (Amen) (1989)

Twist and shout, it’s Christmas!

Let’s hope you get those platform shoes and that leather jacket you always wanted. In the meantime, shake it with this anti-everything holiday doozy from the Glaswegian quartet who heavily influenced Nirvana. Thank God for The Vaselines.