Tuesday, December 2, 2008

An Assault on Taste: Commerce and Christmas Music

Pondering the intricacies of cheese and sausage gift basket marketing during the holiday season, it's not uncommon for me to daydream songs playing on a turntable in my head. Jimmy Page guitar solos, Wilco lyrics, hell even a Rachmaninov concerto have snuck into my consciousness at which point I typically stop myself, a second or two away from humming.

Usually I hear things I've recently listened to (hence the arguably good list above). Which is why, when "Good King Wenceslas" started playing in my head this morning, I was confused. That song sucks and there's no damn way my producer (me) would have let it on the air. No way. I, nevertheless, shrugged it off and went back to analyzing pictures of smoked gouda and summer sausage.

Then I got Cheneyed by another round of birdshot in the form of notes clumped together; this time I noticed it in my ear and not emanating from my brain. "Bah rum-bum-bum bummmmmmmm." I've had homicidal thoughts about the little drummer boy since I was, well, a little boy (sans drum). No way he gets on the playlist.

Cheney + Gun

Well, it turns out that the guy who shows up to my office one day like every other week (still can't figure that one out) has his radio on one nudge above zero volume and tuned to the only radio station that can ever descend even further below Kenny G on the List of Good Taste: Christmas Carols on Repeat. No DJs. Just Terry Bradshaw and Rosie O'Donnell double teaming Silent Night, break for commercials, repeat.

I'm not going to get into a diatribe on how the ubiquity of Christmas music, sales, and presents bastardizes the true meaning of Christmas, whatever that may be. It probably does, but that's not the point. This is an assault on taste.

Do you really think God---and if you don't believe in God, imagine there's a God of Taste---is up there thinking "I'm glad humans made Little Drummer Boy. It's the pinnacle of audio-art. Put that on repeat."? Not a chance. While I'm damn tired of people speaking on behalf of God (e.g. "God doesn't like gay people", "God wants me to kill people different from me", etc.) may I put forth that God doesn't want to hear crappy music, especially on or about his birthday? He (or she) wants to read between the lines on When the Levees Break or sync Dark Side and Wizard of Oz. Maybe some Chopin when feeling down. Not The Brady Bunch sings "O Holy Night."

So turn it off and pop in some Dylan. Listen to it, because life is too short to ignore great art and even acknowledge bad art.

Oh, on the same "We Suck at Christmas" note: a bunch of greedy, materialistic wretches in Valley Stream, NY (on Long Island) trampled a Walmart employee on Black Friday stampeding for marginally discounted TVs, blenders, and furbies or whatever the hell children like these days. Cool, guys.

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