Loudon Wainwright III‘s seasonal tune is as unseasonal as you would expect from this fine songwriter. Suddenly It’s Christmas is a frenetic rant against the commercial side of the holiday and, in particular, the suddenness of its arrival each year. This is certainly not a recent phenomenon and the early marketing of Christmas puts many people off the whole thing. The song is taken from a wonderful live album called Career Moves (1993), which I first owned on cassette. I listened to this album more than any other for over a decade before replacing my Sony Walkman with an MP3 player. The album includes much more of his acerbic material as well as his moving songs about failed relationships and the single life. In addition to the songs, I loved hearing his hilarious introductions to each one and came to know his intros just as well as the songs. This humour comes across in the almost conversational nature of his delivery and is evident right from the first lines here:
Suddenly it’s Christmas,
Right after Hallowe’en.
Forget about Thanksgiving;
It’s just a buffet in between.
He claims he wrote the song well in advance of the festive period and proceeds to chart its beginnings in November. There’s evidence of Christmas decorations already, stores stocking up on prospective gift ideas and the constant bombardment of associated imagery wherever you look. My favourite verse is this one which ties together the year’s two biggest greeting card opportunities in a perfect combination of wit and rhyme:
Christmas carols in December
And November, too;
It’s no wonder we’re depressed
When the whole thing is through.
Finally it’s January;
Let’s sing “Auld Lang Syne”;
But here comes another heartache,
Shaped like a Valentine.
This is a song that I must have heard all through the year and, unlike a lot of festive songs, it’s one that’s not just for Christmas. I’ve noticed that the three songs I’ve chosen so far have been a little lacking in seasonal cheer, so tomorrow’s choice will be a bit more merry