Last year, a Christmas miracle occurred in Massachusetts: December was warm. Really warm! In the 50s and 60s for most of the month, and even 70°F on Christmas Day! I'll take it! This year, on the other mitten... So far, December 2016 has been one of the worst I can remember bad enough that even the Masshole-iest of Massholes are putting on long pants and jackets for once.
Since it's that time of year again, I'm gonna need you Gentiles to listen up. I have some bad news regarding a few of your most-played holiday tunes... A lot of them aren't even about Christmas at all. They're about snow. Seriously! The lyrics to these songs are so ingrained in our heads that we just never stop to think about what they mean. We've just memorized them all phonetically through repetition. Then one day, I realized, "HEY! These are WORDS!" It's true, Christmas songs mean stuff, but the songs listed below only seem to have gained a reputation for being Christmas songs via the imagery of cold weather and bells. (Clearly, Australia did not get a vote in this.)
Yes, we all know about the cartoon where Frosty goes to the North Pole to meet Santa while fighting off a magician who wants his hat back. And of course, the song usually ends with the line about being back on Christmas Day, but that wasn't always the case. Written by two guys born in the mid 1900's and first recorded in 1950, Frosty the Snowman did start out as an attempt to make a Christmas record. However, upon being released to the public, "Frosty The Snowman" made no mention of the holiday season at all. "I'll be back again someday" ended the final verse, and only afterwards was it retro-fitted to be more Kringle-compatible. Gene Autry and Nat King Cole released versions of this song in December 1950, and they both made the Top Ten. Happy birthday, indeed, Frosty.
Turns out, that's the real title: three times, each with an exclamation point. That's a level of enthusiasm we usually reserve for "Tora". Sources say this one was penned in Los Angeles, so the cavalier attitude towards snow is understandable. The people in this song are pretty smug in knowing they won't have to deal with the aftermath. "Shoveling snow is for the little people who have to get up and go to work in the morning," they gloat. When's that apocalyptic, California-rending earthquake going to get here already?
At least "Let It Snow" had the courtesy and presence of mind to stay indoors. This one? They're actually walking around outside. My ears are getting stuffed up just typing this. It really is a puzzle as to why everyone decided to take ditties like this and incorporate them into Christmas, as if there weren't plenty of songs to choose from already. It's bad enough that it's taken over one-sixth of the calendar, now Christmas has to eat other songs, too? What's next; turning that refrigerator episode of Punky Brewster into a holiday tradition as well? That had snow in it! As it stands, this is just another secular song about the weather.
And this one. Come on. It's like they weren't even trying. This just makes me think about that Muppet Show skit with Miss Piggy in the steam room.
Many would not consider this a Christmas song either, but it's been on many a Christmas album. Diana Ross, Andy Williams, Dionne Warwick, Carole King, Rod Stewart, and Kenny G have all used this one to fill out their holiday-themed LPs. "But Audrey," you fret, taken aback, "surely not Family Force 5 as well??" Yes, even Family Force 5: Crouton, Chap Stique, and Soul Glow Activatur themselves have recorded a version. Of course, this one is from that famous musical about World War II which premiered only 14 years after the war had ended. Can you imagine that happening now with a musical about Iraq? On second thought, forget I said anything. There's probably already at least three of 'em.
Much like "Frosty", "Sleigh Ride" was basically about snow, only to later have the words "birthday party" papered over with "Christmas party" once a few singers noticed a distinct lack of anything Christmas-specific. Currier and Ives lithographs get name-checked, though. In a way, sleigh songs like this have become more and more relevant to the holiday over the years, as sleighs are obsolete and now solely the territory of Santa, so it kind of balances out after all. Which brings us to...
Yep, the big one. The one recorded by thousands of artists. Go over it in your head. Everyone's heard it a million times, but it seems like no one has ever noticed that it isn't about Christmas. No Santa, no reindeer, no Jesus, not even one stinkin' present! It is said that this song originated in Massachusetts, so the argument could be made that our state is also indirectly responsible for "Jingle Bell Rock", too. If you're waiting for a blog-ready cliché of "I apologize on behalf of all of Massachusetts!" from me, ferget it. I don't apologize for things wot I ain't done.
Stay warm out there.