Tuesday, July 16, 2024

PHALON’S FILE: Jingle Blues

Hey, I like Christmas and holiday music as much as anybody. But, come on. Some of these tunes are painful enough to make you want to run to Arbor Day.

I’m not firing a shot across the bow in the imaginary War Against Christmas. Rather, I’m
concerned about a few songs that are becoming serious earworms and are affecting the
collective American psyche or promoting dangerous behavior.

Many radio stations play only Christmas music after Thanksgiving. I enjoy that. But let’s expand the playlist for Santa’s sake! And a few of those songs. Really? Let’s start with the date rape song.

You’ve probably heard some rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” Did you ever really
listen closely? The woman in the song is obviously being pressured into not leaving his place when she wants to.

Then she sings, “Say, what’s in this drink?” The male voice responds, “Your
eyes are like starlight now,” to which the woman says, “I wish I knew how to break this spell.” Paging Bill Cosby.

In case there’s any doubt, in older versions of the lyrics, the male part is called the “Wolf” while the female part is called the “Mouse.” You can hear this 400 times a day through January 1.

Then there are a couple numbers that do not promote good mental health during the holidays.

“Where Are You Christmas” is not going to improve anybody’s mood. Whiny and sappy, the
voice singing the song laments that she just can’t find Christmas.

Get a life! You think Christmas is a stroll in the park for the rest of us? “Where are you
Christmas, I can’t find you.” Go to the mall, go to the Walmart, go online, it’s everywhere! They are arguing about it on Fox News! The guy up the street is blaring it out his window, completely out of synch with his Christmas lights!

If you go to the mall, you might run into the kid from “The Christmas Shoes” who his trying buy his sick mother a new pair of shoes so if she dies on Christmas Eve she’ll look good arriving in Heaven.

There is a nice angle to it. While he’s counting his pennies, a stranger—the narrator of
the song—steps in and helps him with the amount he is short. “You see she’s been sick for
quite a while. And I know these shoes would make her smile.”

A good message in this song. But 400 times a day?

The whiniest song of all: I love Dan Fogelberg, but his self-indulgent “Same Old Lang Syne” from the early 80s is over the top. He meets his “old lover in the grocery store” on Christmas Eve.

The narrator has since become a rock star. The old girlfriend says, she’s married an architect who “Keeps her warm and safe and dry,” adding, “She would have liked to
say she loved the man but she didn’t’ want to lie.”

Oh, that’s big of her. Marrying for money. And on Christmas Eve. If we weren’t feeling rotten enough, at the end “the snow turned into rain.” Was there a worse feeling than seeing the snow turn into rain the night before an exam you weren’t prepared for and were counting on a snow day? Now the kid with the mother’s footwear issues is going to be soaked.

And let’s not forget Joni Mitchell’s 1971 song, “A River,” a somber Christmas song that’s
enjoyed a resurgence on holiday radio. But it does include the refrain, “Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on.”

What are the first things you learned about winter? Don’t eat the yellow snow, of course. But the second was NEVER, EVER walk on a frozen river. The ice is too unpredictable. You’re all through. And drown or freeze or both in the currents.

Now that’s sad.

Less downer music, more “Peanuts” and the Vince Guaraldi Trio.

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.