A holiday soundtrack, minus the schmaltz.

I really do love Christmas. Or the holidays, or Festivus, or Hanukkah, or whatever. I don’t care what you call it. December is when you hang out with the people you love and give each other presents and eat too much and drink champagne and drag out decorations that any other time of year would be tacky — but in December, they’re beautiful. In fact, the BDN has it’s own online tool to find the best Christmas lights in your town. Take a look, and take a drive one of these nights. It’s only eight days til the big day. Enjoy it while it lasts!

When my husband and I put up our crappy cheap-o fake Christmas tree two weekends ago, I of course went to work to put together a soundtrack for decorating. I have a relatively high tolerance for Christmas music, though by Christmas Eve I, like many sane Americans, want to throw a large rock at the speakers whenever Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” comes on in the store. And I actually really love Christmas music that isn’t shoved in your face from mid-November onward. So here’s a rough approximation of my Christmas tree decorating (and later gift wrapping) soundtrack, featuring some lesser-known holiday gems. Feliz Navidad, mis amigos!

Anything from the John Waters Christmas Album — This is a warped but hilarious collection of Christmas oddities, put together by the gloriously strange film director, who is also a big music fan. Personal favorites of mine from this album include “Santa Claus is a Black Man,” by Bill Arwin and Little Sweetheart, “Fat Daddy” by Paul “Fat Daddy” Johnson, and, of course, Tiny Tim’s stirring rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” For the non-conformist Christmas fan in the family.

Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin – It’s a Marshmallow World — I know the Rat Pack Christmas stuff gets totally overplayed during the holidays, but for some reason I NEVER hear this song anywhere! It’s the goofiest one of the bunch, with Dino and Frank at their most ring-a-ding-dingiest. You can practically hear the Scotch glasses clinking in the background. Nothing else gets me in the holiday spirit quite like this one.

The Sonics – Santa Claus — The Sonics were the great unsung band of the early 60s; the first true garage rock band, who were loud and snotty way before The Who arrived. And yes, they recorded a Christmas song. For the punk rock Santa.

The Raveonettes – The Christmas Song — I’ve always liked the Raveonettes, partially because when I was music director at WMEB at UMaine while in college, Suze, the female singer, called me out of the blue and thanked us for playing her record. And partially because they’re a very good band. And they’re Danish. And this Christmas song is really sweet and chill.

Andrew WK and Rodney the Mailman – Silent Night — Andrew WK is totally crazy! And this is totally hilarious and sweet and fun. Andrew WK and Rodney the Mailman played “Silent Night” for the Onion’s AV Club. Love it.

Bob and Doug McKenzie – The 12 Days of Christmas — The greatest Christmas song of all time. Period.

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, UMaine graduate, proud Bangorian and a writer and editor for Bangor Metro Magazine, the Weekly and the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food to all the cool things going on in the Greater Bangor area. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra. She's interested in everything that happens in Maine. Albums for review are accepted digitally only; please no CDs.