When the sheriff in the TV miniseries “Lonesome Dove” was fixing to ride off in search of a “bad outlaw,” he told his cantankerous wife that he was going to leave behind his deputy, Roscoe, to look after her.
“I don’t need no lookin’ after,” she snarled.
Want to bet that “I don’t need no lookin’ after” is also what Sir Paul McCartney would say – albeit with a Liverpudlian accent – if he knew I am here trying to defend his perennially panned Christmas song from the annual onslaught directed at it?
If you’ve turned on a radio or walked through a mall from November through January in the past 37 years, you are familiar with Sir Paul’s “Wonderful Christmastime.”
I am a fan of the song – I’m soaking in it right now – and my only criticism is that the 45 rpm I have has “Christmastime” as one word.
Grammar, old bean, grammar.
Others, apparently, hate everything about McCartney’s joyous, foot-tapping, head-bobbing song that in recent decades has become as much a part of Christmas as eggnog and out-of-town guests.
Just like particularly obnoxious out-of-town-guests, though, many people think the song stays around too long – in their heads – and makes them yearn for a vat of eight-day-old, unrefrigerated eggnog to leap into.
Paul McCartney was only a member of the most influential pop band in music history and one of three musicians to sell 100 million records in a group and solo, so it’s unlikely he lies awake nights lamenting the yuletide tradition of trashing ‘Wonderful Christmastime.’
McCartney was only a member of the most influential pop band in music history and one of three musicians to sell 100 million records in a group and solo, so it’s unlikely he lies awake nights lamenting the yuletide tradition of trashing “Wonderful Christmastime.”
On annual lists of woeful Christmas songs, it’s usually between “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” by Elmo & Patsy and those dogs barking “Jingle Bells.” One list had it ranked even lower on the most hated list than Tiny Tim’s “Santa Claus Has Got The AIDS This Year (And He Won’t Be Around to Spread His Christmas Cheer).”
That’s a real song. Go ahead and look it up. I’ll wait.
Rolling Stone magazine, once considered the music lovers’ indispensable bible but now a periodical that mostly prints “best of” and “worst of” lists, has ranked “Wonderful Christmastime” the worst Christmas song of all time. (Of course, it also ranked “Like A Rolling Stone” the number one rock song of all time and “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones as number two. No self-serving, credibility-sapping coincidence there, huh?)
Just last week, Esquire Magazine wrote that “Wonderful Christmastime” is “a song whose black hole of musicality is almost powerful enough to suck the life out of everything McCartney did before.”
Really, yo? It’s so bad that it makes us forget “Hey Jude,” “Yesterday” and “With a Little Luck,” among other great songs that he wrote?
Another writer stated that if there’s Christmas in hell, that song is playing on a continuous loop from mid-November to January.
I don’t know about that and hope not to find out, but the song is playing on a continuous loop on the ever-present Christmas CD in my head and truck.
Consolation can be found in knowing that the people who hate “Wonderful Christmastime” are probably music snobs, people who’ve determined that every song’s message must be couched in symbolism or importance and must take two months to produce. Nearly every criticism of the song mentions that it sounds as though it were written in five minutes.
So what? Swiftness is not incompatible with eminence. When I interviewed Charles Brown in Carrboro several years ago, he stated that he wrote “Please Come Home For Christmas” in about 10 minutes. Whether Clarence Carter took 10 minutes or 10 months to compose “Back Door Santa,” it’s still a great song because many of us think that, dang it, sometimes a good song is just a good song.
Are there two better Christmas songs than those two?
I submit that there are not.