Inspired by the season and the December 1 birthdays of Bette Midler, Janelle Monae, Basement Jaxx’s Simon Ratcliff, Lou Rawls, Richard Pryor, Billy Paul, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Mary Martin, Woody Allen, Treat Williams, Sarah Silverman, Julee Cruise, Jonathan Coulton and Matt Monro.
Today is the day after Thanksgiving here in the United States of America. You’re officially allowed to start listening to holiday music now. To get you started, I compiled a playlist of what I consider to be 100 of the best Christmas songs. Okay, 98 songs, a stand-up routine and a skit. It’s a mix of standards, versions of standards with which you may not be familiar, and obscure but delightful tunes.
I celebrated my thirteenth birthday in 1976. I was your typical heterosexual teenager. My bedroom was plastered with posters of the girls I loved. Diana Ross, Bette Midler, Joan Collins, Joan Rivers, Olivia Newton-John, Donna Summer. Miss Piggy. Girls, girls, girls!
Olivia was my favorite. I had a major crush on her. I was in her fan club. I even invited her to my bar mitzvah. On her invitation I wrote “They named a country after you called Bolivia. The ‘b’ is for beautiful.”
She didn’t come.
In 1984, Olivia married Matt Lattanzi, a muscular dance eleven years younger than she. They met on the set of the 1980
smash film Xanadu. By chance at the newsstand I noticed that Matt was mentioned in Playgirl, a women’s magazine. It was in an article about up-and-coming actors. There was a photo of him leaning against a wall in jeans, no shirt. Nice-looking guy. Good for you, Olivia! Good for you! Out of my devotion to my favorite female singer, I bought a copy of this issue. Sure, as I had the magazine, I browsed though it a handful of times. There were some interesting articles that gave me insight into how females think. Also, I thought the guys were nice-looking, objectively speaking. I can see why girls would like the magazine.
In 2008 Olivia performed at West Hollywood Gay Pride. I watched her along with a few hundred other guys who I’m sure also learned a lot browsing Playgirl.
Today is Olivia’s 66th birthday. We kick off this week’s dance playlist with her smash “Physical.” The song’s video featured Olivia surrounded by a bunch of men who turn out to be gay. Can you imagine?
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In the grocery store yesterday I heard the most joyless version of “Joy to the World.” I heard a dull version of “White Christmas” that made me glad it was 77 degrees outside. I heard a rendition “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” so lifeless it would make Kris Kringle say “Fuck this – I’m staying home.”
My fourth and final Christmas playlist for 2013 includes more festive fare. Mostly it consists of Christmas songs that have not been overplayed. Some of the holiday classics are represented – “The Little Drummer Boy” as performed by Iggy Pop and RuPaul’s twist on “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” in which mommy is not the parent doing the kissing.