My Top 1000 Songs #329: Christmas Wrapping
Yes, it feels strange to be listening to & talking about Christmas music just as we're hitting the dog days of summer. But it's refreshing to revisit this song freed from the seasonal context, once again appreciating it as a simply delightful piece of new wave-era pop separate from its mall loudspeaker baggage.
As a non-practitioner of Christmas myself, there aren't a lot of Christmas (or Christmas-ish) songs I tend to play, but this one makes the short-list. It was quickly thrown together by Waitresses guitarist Chris Butler for a 1981 holiday compilation record, yet his deft songwriting, coupled with the late Patty Donahue's playful delivery (and some nifty horns), gave it surprising heft that transcended its original context (for better or worse overshadowing some of the band's other fantastic work). The song offers a romantic comedy meet-cute narrative, a year of near-misses by the can't-make-it-work couple before they finally cross paths buying canned cranberries on Christmas eve at the mini-mart. In lesser hands it would be cheesy, but I'm unfailingly charmed by the tale, and, yeah, a little teary-eyed by the final Merry Christmas refrain.Here's a fun, recent cover by Akron, OH band Detention, with Butler joining on guitar... served up as a medley with the Who's "Christmas":Kylie Minogue cover, 2015: