The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #280: 80s Christmas Songs and Reworking “Many Miles” for the Zillionth Time
This week, just before Christmas drops, I thought it’d be fun to talk a bit about 3 songs from the 80s that aren’t traditional Christmas songs but are, in many ways, still holiday songs.
The holidays often serve as a time to reflect on the year and think about what you’d like to see happen in the future – a time of hope, good cheer, and family. Of course, it’s not that way for a lot of people. And that contrast is why I picked these three songs:
1.) The Waitress (1981) – “Christmas Wrapping”
I didn’t know who did this song about a woman who’s a bit over the hype of holidays season until recently but always thought it had a great hook. There is also an almost 30 second funky instrumental break in the middle that I think would actually be a good breakbeat.
2.) The Pogues (1988) – “Fairy Tale of New York”
I love the piano intro, the penny whistle, and bantering / squabbling couple duet-ting in this song of hopes, dreams, and disappointment.
3.) Band Aid (1984) – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
There are things to like about this song – e.g. the melody, the chord progressions, the collaboration, the underlying good intentions (raising awareness of famine in Ethiopia and raising funds for assistance) – but … the lyrics are horrendous! They reinforce the stereotype that Africa is a place of “dread and fear / Where the only water flowing / Is the bitter sting of tears” and “nothing ever grows / No rain nor rivers flow.” Ok, folks, I get you were writing about famine, but the entire continent? The best gift “they’ll get this year is life”? Holy self righteous Jesus, Batman. But, if you put images of colonialism and missionaries doing God’s work aside and ignore 95% of the lyrics, you get a song that essentially about remembering to be grateful for what you have and that there is a “world outside your window.”
I’ll do a deeper dive on Instagram this week!
These songs were something I was mentally thinking of for a Christmas song episode with show guests Joe Esch
and Adam Crohn
(last on the shows when we discussed 80s foods and The Lost Boys – 272
). We had tossed around a bunch of ideas for nontraditional Xmas movie ideas (like Gremlins
and Die Hard
) and then the song one, but never quite got around to recording. As you may know, Adam has been tied up with more urgent things than recording podcasts these past few weeks as his dog, Mooge, just had surgery for lung cancer and will need extended treatment in the near future. Of course, nothing in life is ever simple. You can read more about their challenging journey on the GoFundMe by clicking on Mooge’s picture below. But the upshot of all this and the connection to the above is that I’ll be looking at some ways to continue to raise funds into 2021 to help Adam and Mooge and will post more over the coming weeks.
So in lieu of retro Xmas movie podcasts this year, please go check out Shawn and Colin over at I Used to Like This One for several weeks of Christmas movies. They’ve put together a much better lineup than I ever could. So far, they have episodes on Home Alone, Lethal Weapon, and A Christmas Story!
Lastly, I’ve decided to wrap up by trying to finally finish a song that I’ve tried to work and rework many, many times, the aptly named “Many Miles,” a song I wrote for the next Thirteenth Hour book and last worked on in episodes 190-199). I reworked the intro, created a new opening riff, added a short chorus section, and cut out a few redundant verses. So – essentially starting almost from scratch and reworking it from the ground up. I have a backing track done so far and will be figuring the vocals next. So far, I think it will work! I was practicing while holding my son earlier today, and we were singing along with the new repeating riff (and it sounded okay!).
If you still have a cassette player, take advantage of the following deal and be transported to another world! SALE! While supplies last, grab Long Ago Not So Far Away on cassette! Just $1/tape!
There are now Thirteenth Hour toys! If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up (https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThirteenthHourStudio) and get them there.
If the past few months have got you needing a break, you may want to chill out to this 80s synth throwback track for a upcoming LP with the accompanying music video:
Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.
Stay tuned. Follow along on Spotify! There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.
Check it out!
As always, thanks for listening!
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