CultureWill BryantComment

The Day the Christmas Music Died

CultureWill BryantComment
The Day the Christmas Music Died

Tis’ the season Argylites! I smell a pie baking in the kitchen, the turkey is thawing, and presents are piling up under the tree.  Happiness and beauty overstimulate my senses as the lights glowing cast an unmistakable smile across every face. To quote Bruce Springsteen,

“You guys know what time of year it is?

(Yeah!) What time, huh? What? (Christmas time!)

What? (Christmas time!) Oh, Christmas time!”

The holidays fill us all with joy, cheer, and laughter, and it’s due in large parts to songs such as this by the E Street Band and their rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

But let’s face the cold truth. Not all Christmas songs fill us with these positive feelings and good will. While there are a considerable amount of what I’ll call “trash” holiday efforts, one tune sits below the rest, in a circle meant only for old reruns of Duck Dynasty and Jersey Shore — The Christmas Shoes.

For starters it brings about sadness. In a time of year meant for peace on earth and goodwill toward all, we get this melancholy tune focused on death. I understand Christmas can be different for every person, depending on the experiences you have around the season, but come on.

My beef with the writers here is, there is just so much bad in the world right now, everywhere you look. Why do I need to have more reason to feel sad, when this is the one time of year everything is supposedly good?

However, I’ll give the song credit where it’s due. The opening line “It was almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line / Tryin' to buy that last gift or two,” is a real, and common event. But the following words “not really in the Christmas mood” is just blasphemous.

If the writers were trying to trying to bring awareness to people in need, they could have done so in a much less gloomy way. "Do They Know It's Christmas?" is a perfect example of a song that raises awareness while also raising my happiness meter by a good 71 percent.

At this time of year, anyone who celebrates — and likely anyone who has their radio tuned to a station playing Christmas music — can agree that you listen to these songs to get in the mood. That Christmas spirit that is so coveted, and sometimes hard to reach. So why do I need to be reminded of the sadness that can squash my warm, fuzzy Christmas feels through this trash attempt at a song?

Now I understand completely that this song likely has deep meaning, and is stemmed from a traumatic experience for the writers. I blame the radio stations much more than the songwriters. They felt like they were writing a legit Christmas song, giving a real, intense meaning.  But the radio stations? Choosing to play this disarranged piece on the radio. You know, I looked up some Christmas-themed radio station names, and I see “Joy,” “Merry” and other synonymous words. Yet, this song is not that.

The song is deep, and emotional, and likely belongs somewhere to be heard. Given the strong, religious tone I could honestly see it being presented on a religious station and doing fine. But given its slow, melancholy mood, it is not meant for a traditional holiday radio.

Now the message is clear, and the sound is on key for the message at hand. All I’m saying, is that the message is not meant for a joyous, Christmas tune.

One thing that frustrates me immensely about the song is the way the group utilizes the voices of children at the end. I mean yes, the story is told from the perspective of a child, but I do not need the extra salt on the growing wound I get from listening to this tune.

This song has virtually garnered a cult following at this point, and I cannot fathom why. We're talking about a Debby Downer Christmas garbage can, that people are actually setting aside their time to listen to. Heck, they even made a movie after this song. If it were up to me, these shoes would've been burned a long time ago.

Is Christmas commercialized? Absolutely. Is it overdone and made to be so much more of an influence than it is? Probably. But it’s a time a lot of people choose to feel happy, promote cheer and goodwill, and just spread love. No need for a mood-dampening tear-jerker on my radio.

This is an ill-advised attempt at a Christmas song, but a wonderful message by a Christian band. With that being said, I will continue to skip it each and every time I hear that eerie piano rift come over the speaker.