By Stephen Markley, @stephenmarkley
5:45 PM CST, December 6, 2012
*Editor's note: This column originally was published Dec. 4, 2011.
As a person who thinks all organized religions have been a net "bad" for human civilization, I gotta say, I still really enjoy Christmas. You get days off work, you get to see your family, your friends, there's good food, alcoholic eggnog, presents, the lights are pretty and tend to put women in an amorous mood—don't ask me why. Therefore, I'm anti-"War on Christmas." But I'm pro-"War on Christmas Music."
There's not really a way to sugarcoat this, but people who like Christmas music are morons. Think about it: If the 11 to 23 songs you most love in the world played for two straight months every year, in every building or home you entered, not only would they cease to be your favorite songs, they'd become your soundtrack every time something went wrong in your life, like getting laid off or finding out your spouse is cheating on you.
Yet these terrible songs, from the corporate inventions of Rudolph and Frosty to the more traditional ones about Noel and Santa Claus being in town, get a free pass despite being about as musically interesting as sheep flatulence.
I feel the Christmas music scourge acutely because I spend a lot of my day working in coffee shops, specifically Starbucks. Let me tell you something about the musical fare at Starbucks during the months of November and December: Whatever irredeemable weasel who came up with that rotating playlist of dreadful covers of dreadful Christmas carols, I want him tortured.
And not "funny, ha-ha" tortured like he has to sit in a room and listen to his own playlist for a year, I mean I want his limbs amputated without anesthesia and fed to his children.
I know, the obvious solution is to avoid Starbucks for two months, but my point is larger than Starbucks.
Music represents a crucial nexus of our cultural, intellectual and emotional lives. The type of music we listen to as we bop about our meager time on this Earth defines our individuality and serves almost as an avatar for our own artistic expression, which for many of us is so stifled as to be almost nonexistent. Music thrills us so that when the first chords or beats of anything from "Darkness on the Edge of Town" to "Otis" burst out over a speaker, you feel your soul get incrementally brighter.
What is Christmas music then and where does it play? It plays in department stores and office building lobbies and Gap clothing outlets—a seemingly inoffensive background muzak that dully reminds us it's time to crack open our wallets for another round of credit card-fueled conspicuous consumption. Christmas music is the antithesis of creativity and wonder.
Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on it, though. At least I'll have that snowman with his corncob pipe, button nose and two eyes made out of coal when my wife leaves me.
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