Monday, December 17, 2007

christmas music/therapy

I am a creature of habit. That being said, the year was 1980. The sun had already bid adieu and there was a chill in the air. The date? December 24th. John Lennon had been gunned down a mere 16 days prior.
Christmas generally strikes me as a melancholy time of year and I wanted nothing more than to just be left alone, so I lied to my family and claimed to have a gig that night.
Not so much of a stretch as I had performed at DJs in Dallas the previous Christmas eve.
To this day, oddly, that stands as my favorite show ever. The club was packed and I realized that so many people must seem out of touch once the holiday season rolls around and they have nothing much to do.
That, however, is another story.
I lived in an apartment complex in Hurst that was situated on the westbound access road off the airport freeway. On the other side of the highway existed a gas station with a lot next to it that was selling off Christmas trees at a very reasonable discount. It was, after all, the last time they would be open for business. Or at least until another year would pass.
For whatever reason, there were some old decorations in the back of the closet, so I walked over to the place and purchased a small tree. I figured it could fill space for about a week and would come down on New Year’s Day.
The desire to go to the store for groceries did not sound at all appealing, so I merely whipped up a batch of Hamburger Helper stroganoff. I really can cook, but hey, the stuff was in the pantry. Plus, I had plenty of Carlo Rossi wine and a 12er of beer, so I was pretty much set. (For those too young to remember, 18 used to be the legal age to buy alcoholic beverages.)
Now all that was left to add to the ambiance was some mood music to share with the tiny tree as it was being decorated. Now, these three records I am about to mention really have nothing to do with Christmas per se. They did, however, bring a sense of the world being an accepting place on a lonely night.
I would imagine not everybody would choose the same three, but they worked for me. With the exception of living outside the country and not having access to them, I play these same albums every year sometime around the eve of the big day. Sort of a self-hibernation, if you will.
Curious? Here we go. I shall list the selection in the order I played them that night as I created a tree shrine as an ode to solitude:

1) ‘End Of The Century’– The Ramones
This is far from their best recording effort, but does have sort of a sadness about it that the others do not. Also a bit different is that it was produced by Phil Spector. This would probably explain why the best track on the thing is a remake of Baby I Love You. Joey Ramone outdoes himself on this one. It’s the first song on side two. I always start with that side.

2) ‘drums and wires’- XTC
Okay, think of early Beatles if they had been really excited about their new material, so excited in fact that they decided to take downers before recording it.
One of my favorite records of all time. It got me all the way to the hanging of the icicles on my tiny , yet now colorful tree.

3) ‘For Your Pleasure’- Roxy Music
Hanging icicles on a tree is a slow and delicate procedure. They need to be patiently placed, one at a time, like the rhythm of waves gently splashing on a welcoming shore.
For Your Pleasure is the second Roxy Music LP and will take you right there.

Okay. That’s it. Just wanted to share. Perhaps you can find your own collection of make-peace-with the holidays music. These just happen to be my choices left over from another time that refuses to be forgotten.
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