Tag Archives: Radiohead

Not In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame: Radiohead

“I don’t care to belong to any club that will have Bon Jovi as a member.”
– Groucho Marx

On April 14, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will induct several worthwhile acts and Bon Jovi. Over the next month, Tunes du Jour will spotlight artists that are eligible for induction (i.e. they commercially released their debut recording at least 25 years ago), but have not been inducted as they are not as talented, innovative or influential as Bon Jovi.

First up – Radiohead. Though on the short list of acts being considered for induction this year, the group was passed over by the nominating committee, the same committee that approved for inclusion Bon Jovi.

A listen to the Radiohead’s catalogue, a sample of which is presented below, reveals a group that often changed its sound, not wishing to repeat past successes. They surprise their fans with the appearance of new releases and what those new releases sound like. Songs of theirs often morph into something unexpected midway through. Their release strategies since leaving Capitol/Parlophone Records have been as surprising as the music contained thereon.

Still, they never sang “Sometimes you tell the day by the bottle that you drink / And times when you’re all alone, all you do is think.” Do you know who did? Bon Jovi.

Here are twenty of Radiohead’s finest tunes.


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Top Songs Of 2016

Herewith, my top 99 tracks of 2016 (playlist below the written list):
1. “Sorry” – Beyoncé
2. “Happy” – Mitski
3. “Wasn’t My Fault” – Christie and the Dream Beats
4. “WTF (Where They From)” – Missy Elliott featuring Pharrell
5. “Starboy” – The Weeknd featuring Daft Punk
6. “Hold Up” – Beyoncé
7. “Tilted” – Christine and the Queens
8. “Lazarus” – David Bowie
9. “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” – Justin Timberlake
10. “The Community of Hope” – PJ Harvey
11. “Broccoli” – D.R.A.M. featuring Lil Yachty
12. “No Problem” – Chance the Rapper featuring Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz
13. “Formation” – Beyoncé
14. “Sister” – Angel Olsen
15. “On My Heart” – School of Seven Bells
16. “Augustine” – Blood Orange
17. “The Wheel” – PJ Harvey
18. “Here” – Alessia Cara
19. “Kill v. Maim” – Grimes
20. “The Pop Kids” – Pet Shop Boys
21. “Wow” – Beck
22. “Nikes” – Frank Ocean
23. “Lipslap” – Kero Kero Bonito
24. “California” – Grimes
25. “T5” – Swet Shop Boys
26. “Work from Home” – Fifth Harmony featuring Ty Dolla $ign
27. “Gardenia” – Iggy Pop
28. “Player” – Tinashe featuring Chris Brown
29. “Flesh Without Blood” – Grimes
30. “Frankie Sinatra” – the Avalanches
31. “Floridada – Animal Collective
32. “When We Were Young” – Adele
33. “Borders” – M.I.A.
34. “Wide Open” – the Chemical Brothers featuring Beck
35. “Highway Vagabond” – Miranda Lambert
36. “Boy Problems” – Carly Rae Jepsen
37. “I Have Been to the Mountain” – Kevin Morby
38. “Crisis” – Anohni
39. “Rich” – Maren Morris
40. “Hands of Time” – Margo Price
41. “Mercy” – Eric Bachmann
42. “The Big Big Beat” – Azealia Banks
43. “Too Good” – Drake featuring Rihanna
44. “Genghis Khan” – Miike Snow
45. “Straight Outta Vagina” – Pussy Riot featuring Desi Mo & Leikeli47
46. “All the Way Up” – Fat Joe featuring Remy Ma, Jay-Z & French Montana
47. “Knickers” – Jidenna
48. “Little Bit of This” – GTA featuring Vince Staples
49. “River” – Leon Bridges
50. “Radio” – Sylvan Esso
51. “Giant” – Banks & Steelz
52. “I Can’t Give Everything Away” – David Bowie
53. “Daddy Lessons” – Beyoncé featuring Dixie Chicks
54. “In Bloom” – Sturgill Simpson
55. “You Want It Darker” – Leonard Cohen
56. “Come Down” – Anderson .Paak
57. “Lake by the Ocean” – Maxwell
58. “One Dance” – Drake featuring WizKid and Kyla
59. “Life Itself” – Glass Animals
60. “Runnin’” – Pharrell Williams
61. “24K Magic” – Bruno Mars
62. “Real Love Baby” – Father John Misty
63. “Send My Love (to Your New Lover)” – Adele
64. “Boyfriend” – Tegan & Sara
65. “Cranes in the Sky” – Solange
66. “Really Doe” – Danny Brown featuring Kendrick Lamar & Ab-Soul & Earl Sweatshirt
67. “Bike Engine” – Stylo G x Jacob Plant
68. “Burn the Witch” – Radiohead
69. “I Wanna Boi” – PWR BTTM
70. “Work” – Rihanna featuring Drake
71. “Fuck Donald Trump” – YG & Nipsey Hussle
72. “Guns of Hysteria” – Annalie Prime
73. “Born Again Teen” – Lucius
74. “City Lights” – the White Stripes
75. “Somewhere in Paradise” – Chance the Rapper featuring Jeremih
76. “Sister of Pearl” – Baio
77. “U-Turn” – Tegan & Sara
78. “Shut Up Kiss Me” – Angel Olsen
79. “Moth to a Flame” – Chairlift
80. “Blackstar” – David Bowie
81. “A Burning Hill” – Mitski
82. “Pretty Pimpin’” – Kurt Vile
83. “Break” – Kero Kero Bonito
84. “In the Night” – the Weeknd
85. “Elevator Operator” – Courtney Barnett
86. “Piece of Me” – MK featuring Becky Hill
87. “Love and War” – Banks & Steelz featuring Ghostface Killah
88. “Cold Light” – Operators
89. “Vice” – Miranda Lambert
90. “Water under the Bridge” – Adele
91. “Dorothy” – Kevin Morby
92. “Say U Want Me” – Chris Farren
93. “Lifted” – CL
94. “Sound & Color” – Alabama Shakes
95. “Cash Machine” – D.R.A.M.
96. “Drone Bomb Me” – Anohni
97. “Who’s Gonna Miss Me?” – Loretta Lynn
98. “Lift Me Up” – Vince Staples
99. “Cool Out” – Matthew White and Natalie Press

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Cool New Music

Looking for some new music to check out? Here are twenty recently-released tracks that are in heavy rotation at Chez Schwartz:


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Grammy Nominations!

It seems that last week I was busy doing something close to nothing, so I didn’t get a chance to tell you who was nominated for Grammys this year. Here is the list, with my random thoughts thrown in:

Record of the Year
“Really Love” — D’Angelo and the Vanguard
“Uptown Funk” — Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
“Thinking Out Loud” — Ed Sheeran
“Blank Space” — Taylor Swift
“Can’t Feel My Face” — The Weeknd

I’d give it to The Weeknd, but I wouldn’t mind if Mark Ronson or D’Angelo won. I’ve never heard this Taylor Swift fella so I can’t vote for him. I have heard Ed Sheeran so I can’t vote for him.

Song of the Year
“Alright” — Kendrick Lamar (written by Kendrick Duckworth, Mark Anthony Spears and Pharrell Williams)
“Blank Space” — Taylor Swift (written by Max Martin, Shellback and Taylor Swift)
“Girl Crush” — Little Big Town (written by Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna and Liz Rose)
“See You Again” — Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth (written by Andrew Cedar, Justin Franks, Charles Puth and Cameron Thomaz)
“Thinking Out Loud” — Ed Sheeran (written by Ed Sheeran and Amy Wadge)

Kendrick’s “Alright” is more than alright and I have a boy crush on Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush.” As for “See You Again,” I hope I never hear it again. I’m not going to say what I think of Ed Sheeran out loud. This Taylor Swift fella’s songs are not on Spotify, which is why nobody knows who he is.

Album of the Year
Sound & Color — Alabama Shakes
To Pimp a Butterfly — Kendrick Lamar
Traveller — Chris Stapleton
1989 — Taylor Swift
Beauty Behind the Madness — The Weeknd

To Pimp a Butterfly is the best album of 2015, but the category is called Album of the Year, not Best Album of the Year. The Weeknd’s album had its moments, and I have no beef with Alabama Shakes. I wouldn’t know a Chris Stapleton song if it hit me in the ears, but I loved Jean Stapleton on All in the Family. And there’s that Taylor Swift fella again, who will probably win Album of the Year as he named his album after a year, the sneaky devil. Maybe then he’ll finally start getting some press.

Best New Artist
Courtney Barnett
James Bay
Sam Hunt
Tori Kelly
Meghan Trainor

Last year Meghan Trainor was nominated for Record of the Year for “All About That Bass.” However, per the Recording Academy, to be eligible for a Best New Artist nomination “a person or band must have or have not released an album, song, or spoken a single word any time during their life, after their life, or never.” I’m voting for Courtney Barnett, who has been putting out music since 2012, for Best New Artist of 2015. Regarding the others up for this award, I’ve heard of Sam Hunt but haven’t heard any of his or her music, and James Bay and Tori Kelly are names the Academy made up so there would be five nominees.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
“Ship to Wreck” — Florence + The Machine
“Sugar” — Maroon 5
“Uptown Funk” — Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
“Bad Blood” — Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar
“See You Again” — Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth

Are they going to have this Taylor Swift fella perform on the Grammy Awards telecast so the world can see what he looks like? I’d give this award to Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. If Maroon 5 or Wiz Khalifa/Charlie Puth win, somebody’s going to get hurt.

Best Pop Solo Performance
“Heartbeat Song” — Kelly Clarkson
“Love Me Like You Do” — Ellie Goulding
“Thinking Out Loud” — Ed Sheeran
“Blank Space”— Taylor Swift
“Can’t Feel My Face” — The Weeknd

Is Taylor Swift that guy from the Twilight movies?

Best Pop Vocal Album
Piece By Piece — Kelly Clarkson
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful — Florence + The Machine
Uptown Special — Mark Ronson
1989 — Taylor Swift
Before This World — James Taylor

James Taylor? What just happened? Is Taylor Swift the guy who wrote Gulliver’s Travels back in the 1700s?

Best Rap Collaboration
“One Man Can Change The World” — Big Sean featuring Kanye West and John Legend
“Glory” — Common and John Legend
“Classic Man” — Jidenna featuring Roman GianArthur
“These Walls” — Kendrick Lamar featuring Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat
“Only” — Nicki Minaj featuring Drake, Lil Wayne and Chris Brown

Where’s Taylor Swift’s nomination?

Best Rap Song
“All Day” — Kanye West featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom and Paul McCartney (written by Kanye West, Paul McCartney, Tyler Bryant, Kendrick Duckworth, Karim Kharbouch, Ernest Brown, Cydel Young, Victor Mensah, Allan Kyariga, Mike Dean, Che Pope, Noah Goldstein, Allen Ritter, Mario Winans, Charles Njapa, Malik Yusef Jones, Patrick Reynolds, Rennard East and Noel Ellis)
“Alright — Kendrick Lamar (written by Kendrick Duckworth, Mark Anthony Spears and Pharrell Williams)
“Energy” — Drake (written by Richard Dorfmeister, A. Graham, Markus Kienzl, M. O’Brien, M. Samuels and Phillip Thomas)
“Glory” — Common and John Legend (written by Lonnie Lynn, Che Smith and John Stephens)
“Trap Queen” — Fetty Wap (written by Tony Fadd & Willie J. Maxwell)

It’s about time Grandmaster Paul McCartney was nominated for Best Rap Song, though the fact that it took 19 people to write it diminishes what is otherwise a perfectly so-so track. MC Paul McC is up against some heavyweights, so he’ll need to keep trying for the rap trophy because this won’t be his year.

Best Rap Album
2014 Forest Hills Drive — J. Cole
Compton — Dr. Dre
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late — Drake
To Pimp a Butterfly — Kendrick Lamar
The Pinkprint — Nicki Minaj

Kendrick. Anna Kendrick.

Best Rap Performance
“Apparently” — J. Cole
“Back to Back” — Drake
“Trap Queen” — Fetty Wap
“Alright” — Kendrick Lamar
“Truffle Butter” — Nicki Minaj featuring Drake and Lil Wayne
“All Day” – Kanye West featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom and Paul McCartney

Eddie Kendricks.

Best Country Album
Montevallo — Sam Hunt
Pain Killer — Little Big Town
The Blade — Ashley Monroe
Pageant Material — Kacey Musgraves
Traveller — Chris Stapleton

Kendrick Lamar or Taylor Swift.

Best Country Solo Performance
“Burning House” — Cam
“Traveller” — Chris Stapleton
“Little Toy Guns” — Carrie Underwood
“John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16″ — Keith Urban
“Chances Are” — Lee Ann Womack

Hedy Lamarr or Elizabeth Taylor.

Best Country Duo/Group Performance
“Stay a Little Longer” — Brothers Osborne
“If I Needed You” — Joey + Rory
“The Driver” — Charles Kelley, Dierks Bentley, Eric Paslay
“Girl Crush” — Little Big Town
“Lonely Tonight” — Blake Shelton featuring Ashley Monroe

Hedley Lamarr or Motel the Tailor.

Best Country Song
“Chances Are” — Lee Ann Womack (written by Hayes Carll)
“Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” — Tim McGraw (written by Barry Dean, Luke Laird and Jonathan Singleton)
“Girl Crush” — Little Big Town (written by Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna and Liz Rose)
“Hold My Hand” — Brandy Clark (written by Brandy Clark and Mark Stephen Jones)
“Traveller” — Chris Stapleton (written by Chris Stapleton)

Swifty Lazar or Lord and Taylor.

Best Rock Album
Chaos and the Calm — James Bay
Kintsugi — Death Cab for Cutie
Mister Asylum — Highly Suspect
Drones — Muse
.5: The Gray Chapter — Slipknot

Laser Hair Removal or Tailor On Premises.

Best Dance Recording
“We’re All We Need” — Above and Beyond featuring Zoë Johnston
“Go” — The Chemical Brothers
“Never Catch Me” — Flying Lotus featuring Kendrick Lamar
“Runaway (U & I)” — Galantis
“Where Are Ü Now” — Skrillex and Diplo with Justin Bieber

Laser Beams – oh, wait. Kendrick Lamar really is nominated in this category.

Best Rock Performance
“Don’t Wanna Fight” — Alabama Shakes
“What Kind of Man” — Florence + The Machine
“Something From Nothing” — Foo Fighters
“Ex’s & Oh’s” — Elle King
“Moaning Lisa Smile” — Wolf Alice

What happened to that Taylor Swift fella? He hasn’t been nominated in the last few categories. The Academy built him up and then knocked him right back down.

Best Rock Song
“Don’t Wanna Fight” — Alabama Shakes (written by Alabama Shakes)
“Ex’s & Oh’s” — Elle King (written by Dave Bassett and Elle King)
“Hold Back the River” — James Bay (written by Iain Archer and James Bay)
“Lydia” — Highly Suspect (written by Richard Meyer, Ryan Meyer and Johnny Stevens)
“What Kind of Man” — Florence + The Machine (written John Hill, Tom Hull and Florence Welch)

I find these nominees highly suspect. Who is Highly Suspect? Isn’t James Bay the guy who directed Avatar and Transformers? I like the Elle King song, but she’s Rob Schneider’s daughter (seriously!), so give the award to Alabama Shakes or Florence.

Best Dance/Electronic Album
Our Love — Caribou
Born in the Echoes — The Chemical Brothers
Caracal — Disclosure
In Colour — Jamie XX
Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü — Skrillex And Diplo

I’m rooting for – hold on, the phone is ringing.

Best R&B Song
“Coffee” — Miguel (written by Brook Davis and Miguel Pimente)
“Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)” — The Weeknd (written by Ahmad Balshe, Stephan Moccio, Jason Quenneville and Abel Tesfaye)
“Let It Burn” — Jazmine Sullivan (written by Kenny B. Edmonds, Jazmine Sullivan and Dwane M. Weir II)
“Really Love” — D’Angelo and the Vanguard (written by D’Angelo and Kendra Foster)
“Shame” — Tyrese (written by Warryn Campbell, Tyrese Gibson and DJ Rogers Jr,)

Jazmine Sullivan put out a record this year? I don’t think so. Tyrese put out a record this year? Yeah, sure he did! I’m okay with any of the folks who actually released a record this year winning.

Best R&B Performance
“If I Don’t Have You” — Tamar Braxton
“Rise Up” — Andra Day
“Breathing Underwater” — Hiatus Kaiyote
“Planes” — Jeremih featuring J. Cole
“Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey)” — The Weeknd

This is The Weeknd’s to lose. I don’t know the other nominated songs, but I imagine they’re boring and Hiatus Kaiyote is not a real thing.

Best R&B Album
Coming Home — Leon Bridges
Black Messiah — D’Angelo and the Vanguard
Cheers to the Fall — Andra Day
Reality Show — Jazmine Sullivan
Forever Charlie — Charlie Wilson

If D’Angelo doesn’t win then the terrorists have won.

Best Alternative Music Album
Sound & Color — Alabama Shakes
Vulnicura — Björk
The Waterfall — My Morning Jacket
Currents — Tame Impala
Star Wars — Wilco

[Insert play on names Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift here.]

Best Urban Contemporary Album
Ego Death — The Internet
You Should Be Here — Kehlani
Blood — Lianne La Havas
Wildheart — Miguel
Beauty Behind the Madness — The Weeknd

You can Google Kehlani and found out who or what that is. You can Google Lianne La Havas and find out who or what that is. You can Google The Internet and NOT LEARN A GODDAMN THING ABOUT WHO OR WHAT THAT IS. When you’re done Googling, face the fact that this category is a two-person contest between Miguel and The Weeknd.

Best Spoken Word Album
Blood On Snow (Jo Nesbø) – Patti Smith
Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, And Assorted Hijinks – Dick Cavett
A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety – Jimmy Carter
Patience And Sarah (Isabel Miller) – Janis Ian and Jean Smart
Yes Please – Amy Poehler

This is Patti Smith’s first Grammy nomination. The woman who co-wrote “Because the Night” with Bruce Springsteen and made it a top fifteen pop hit and classic rock staple has never been nominated previously for a Grammy. The woman whose 1975 release Horses consistently appears on All Time Best Albums lists receives her first Grammy nomination in 2015 for reading a book out loud, a book somebody else wrote at that! This is a real category??? Too bad Smith is going to lose this award to former president Jimmy Carter who, great man that he is, does not have a “Piss Factory” in him.

Today’s playlists is made up of twenty selections that were not nominated for Grammy Awards. Not for Song of the Year, not for Record of the year, not for vocal performance in any genre, nor were the albums on which these tracks initially appeared nominated under any genre. Listen to these losers!


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It’s Jay-Z’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Back in July of this year, Morrissey, who used to make news for his music, posted on fan site True to You that a Transportation Security Administration official at the San Francisco International Airport touched his junk (i.e. his genitals, not his recently-published novel, List of the Lost). This week, Morrissey continued the one-sided conversation, saying about the TSA “It is unlikely that ISIS would stoop so low.” ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, frequently makes the news for bombings, shooting people, beheading people, and throwing people off of buildings to their death, among other things. All horrible things, to be sure, but not as horrible as having someone touch your testicles. Morrissey for president! Oh, wait – he’s British. Darn!

This week Thom Yorke of Radiohead compared YouTube to Nazis, as YouTube makes its money from the work of artists, “like what the Nazis did during the Second World War.” He asked “What’s the difference?” Hmmm…I’m stumped. What is the difference between the political party that put Jews, homosexuals, Africans, the disabled and Jehovah’s Witnesses into concentration camps and murdered eleven million of them and the Internet site that gave people the opportunity to watch and share “Gangnam Style?” You’re right, Thom. There is no difference. YouTube are monsters! Thom Yorke for president! Oh, wait – he’s British. Darn!

Though Morrissey and Yorke cannot run for president of the United States of America, they remind me of someone who can and is running for president, Dr. Ben Carson. Carson said that the Affordable Care Act is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” He’s right! One consisted of being kidnapped from one’s home, separated from one’s family, shackled, treated as someone else’s property, being forced to work in inhumane conditions, and being abused, while the other provides Americans with health insurance. I bet you don’t know which one is which! They’re practically the same thing! Ben Carson for president! Oh, wait – he’s a fucking moron. Darn!

Until one of these geniuses becomes president, or until YouTube puts me in a camp, a TSA agent throws me off a building or Blue Shield forces me to pick their cotton, I’m going to keep on dancing. Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party kicks off with Beyoncé’s “Déjà Vu,” which features Jay-Z, who turns 46 today.


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The Song Retains The Name

Winston + Bobby Brown
Today is Bobby Brown’s 46th birthday. A former member of New Edition, Brown had his first solo hit in 1988 with “Don’t Be Cruel,” which reached #8 on the Hot 100. Though it shares its title with an Elvis Presley #1 hit from 1956, Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel” is not a remake.

That brings us to today’s playlist, which I call The Song Retains the Name. It consists of different songs with the same title. I initially planned to include twenty such songs, but more kept springing to mind. Before I knew it, I passed 100 entries. There are plenty more, so I decided to open this up to my reader(s). If you have songs that share titles you’d like to add, feel free to do so.

(NOTES: I included The Jacksons’ “This Place Hotel” because when it was released in 1980 its title was “Heartbreak Hotel.” Thought he didn’t have to, Michael Jackson, the song’s writer, later changed its name to “This Place Hotel” to avoid confusion with the Elvis Presley song “Heartbreak Hotel.” Whitney Houston didn’t feel the need to make the same Hotel accommodation.

Also, though it is listed on Spotify as “The Best of My Love,” the Eagles track does not have a “The” on the 45 or the band’s On the Border album.)

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Precious and Phew! (And Radiohead)

I need to do more cardio. I am presently at 19% body fat, which is fine compared to the general population, but in the gay world that makes me Precious.

I like doing cardio. I made a great workout playlist (lots of Robyn, Prince, The Partridge Family and Pet Shop Boys) and I have excellent headphones. I invested in a pair of Bose Quiet Comfort noise-cancelling headphones. When I have them on all other sounds are blocked, so I can get lost in “When Doves Cry” or “I Think I Love You” and not be distracted by people asking me how much longer I’ll be on the elliptical or by the music the gym pumps, which is often Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull. I can’t listen to Pitbull for health reasons. I’m lactose-intolerant.

The headphones are great on planes as well. I recently flew to New York and boy, are my arms tired from throwing them in the air to the rhythms of my great travel playlist (lots of Beatles, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Bay City Rollers and Pet Shop Boys). Even with the volume relatively low I couldn’t hear the plane engines or the hysterical woman next to me.

She seemed fine when the plane took off, but at some point when I was lost in “Paperback Writer” or “Midnight Train to Georgia” or “Rock and Roll Love Letter” or “Go West” she lost her shit. I only noticed because a flight attendant tapped me to see if I’d like to buy some crackers (as if I could afford those extra calories!). When I pulled off the headphones to say “What?,” I heard my fellow passenger crying hysterically to two other flight attendants, between sobs saying “I’ve got to get off this plane. Now!” They tried to calm her down, even offering her free crackers, but she retained enough of her wits to point out that crackers do not alleviate a fear of heights or enclosed spaces. She went into the bathroom and everyone sitting in the last seven rows could hear her screaming. It was very sad – nobody else had noise-cancelling headphones so they had to endure her hysterics. I put my pair back over my ears. “S-A T-U-R D-A-Y night!”

doggies + Radio Head 2014-10-07 11.09The only Radiohead I have on vinyl

One group not on my workout playlist but on my travel playlist is Radiohead. (How’s that for a segue?) Did you know they got their name from a Talking Heads song? Yep. Today is the birthday of lead singer Thom Yorke, who released a new solo album, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, last month. Today’s playlist consists of twenty songs not on that album.

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An Atheist Jew’s Guide To Christmas Music, Part 1

Raised Jewish, I celebrated Hanukkah. For several years, my family also celebrated Christmas. We didn’t go to midnight mass, we didn’t drink egg nog, we didn’t throw a special type of log in the fireplace. (By the way, I have no idea what makes a Yule log yuley). We put tinsel and candy canes on a large potted plant my mother had in the den and bought each other small but practical gifts. For example, when I was 11 for Christmas my parents got me a salt shaker. The Christmas celebrations stopped after I innocently told Grandpa Mordechai about them. My parents were so angry with me they took away my salt shaker.

Though I no longer celebrate Christmas, I still have a major jones for Christmas music. I own many more Christmas records than any atheist Jew probably should. We’re talking in the hundreds.

I eschew Christmas classics performed by well-known middle-of-the-road acts such as Celine Dion, Michael Bublé, Kenny G (sell-out Jew), Neil Diamond (sell-out Jew) or Barbra Streisand (sell-out Jew). Frank Sinatra shows up only in a duet with Cyndi Lauper and Bing Crosby shows up only in his duet with David Bowie.

Including the Crosby/Bowie version, I have 15 renditions of “The Little Drummer Boy” in my iPod, by a diverse list of artists including Johnny Cash, The Temptations, Joan Jett, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop and RuPaul.

I have ten versions of “Winter Wonderland,” and that’s not counting the cross-dressing parody “Walkin’ Round in Women’s Underwear,” not performed by RuPaul.

I have “Christmas in Hollis,” “Christmas in Harlem,” “Christmas in Washington,” “Christmastime in the LBC,” “Christmas in the City,” “Christmas in Heaven,” “Christmastime in Hell” and “Christmas at the Zoo.”

I have Christmas songs by most of my favorite artists of all-time, including The Beatles, Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Stevie Wonder, R.E.M., Elvis Presley, The White Stripes, Kanye West, Ike and Tina Turner, Chuck Berry, and Radiohead.

Some Christmas songs aren’t Christmas songs at all. “Frosty the Snowman,” “Let It Snow Let it Snow Let It Snow” and “Winter Wonderland” don’t mention the baby Jesus or Santa Claus or presents or a bullied reindeer with a skin ailment.

Some of the Christmas songs I have are a bit odd. “I Found the Brains of Santa Claus,” a smooth jazz version of “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” C3PO and R2D2 singing “Sleigh Ride.” I have Liberace reciting “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” though his version doesn’t hold a candle to Aretha Franklin’s version, in which the Queen of Soul took a few liberties with the words: “A bundle of gifts he had and what did I get? / As I squealed, opening the package, the same old shit!” Her lyrics are downright Disneyesque compared to Snoop Dogg’s reading of the famous poem. If you’re interested, Google the lyrics because I’m not going to print them here.

I have John Denver singing “Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas).” Verse one opens with a couplet for the arithmetically-challenged: “Just last year when I was only seven / Now I’m almost eight you can see.” Santa needs to bring John some flashcards. The next two lines create a holiday image that is less Norman Rockwell and more John Waters: “You came home at quarter past eleven / And fell down underneath the Christmas tree.” Someone needs to get him to a 12-step group. He can attend a meeting with the title character of Fishbone’s “Slick Nick, You Devil You,” who came down the chimney with a keg of brew and spilled Jack Daniels all over the drapes.

I have Sarah Silverman singing “Give the Jew Girl Toys,” in which she taunts Santa by singing “You have a list / Well, Schindler did to / Liam Neeson played him / Tim Allen played you.”

Then there’s the classic “Fairtytale of New York” by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, which evokes the holiday spirit with the line “You scumbag, you maggot / You cheap lousy faggot,” something yelled at me every year by those Salvation Army Santas.

Better still is “Macarena Christmas.” I LOVE “Macarena” and I’m betting you do to though you probably won’t admit it. “Macarena Christmas” celebrates the birth of our lord and savior Baby Macarena by taking the chorus from the hit single and uncleverly inserting it repeatedly into a medley of Christmas songs, so it goes “Joy to the world, the Lord has come / Da le a tu cuerpo alegria Macarena, Que tu cuerpo es pa darle alegria y cosa Buena / Da le a tu cuerpo alegria Macarena / Eeeeeh, Macarena – ay / Jingle bells jingle bells jingle all the way.” Sound effects of what sounds like an infant with the hiccups are thrown in. It makes no sense, y me gusta mucho.

My favorite holiday album and one of the greatest all-time albums period is Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You, featuring tracks he produced for The Ronettes, The Crystals, Darlene Love and Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans. Every cut on it is classic and can be enjoyed by the whole family, except Grandpa Mordechai.

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