Nancy Roman

Jingle Bell Schlock

When we bought a used (sorry, ‘pre-owned‘ is the word; BMWs are very sensitive little creatures) convertible this year, we inherited Sirius radio.

Now my husband and I have lots of stations to argue about.

He likes the fifties channel and I naturally like the sixties. I think he ought to like the sixties – he was still a young man back then. The Beach Boys were popular during the early sixties. That should be good enough for him.

But NOOOOO!  He likes the really early rock’n’roll.

Now some of it is tolerable to me. When Sam Cooke sings “You Send Me” – it really does send me (although I am sure that most young people don’t understand the phrase ‘send me’.  I’m not sure what kids say today…’sprung’ maybe? ‘Texted?’).

My husband’s taste, though, runs a little more towards “Running Bear.”

Oh, there was some terrible music in those classic years.

Every time I think I hear the worst song ever…like Pat Boone singing “Tutti Frutti” – I find out I’m wrong – because I hear something like Frankie Avalon’s “Bobby Sox to Stockings.”

Not that there wasn’t any bad sixties music – think “Honey” by Bobby Goldsboro (and try not to throw up in your mouth) – the difference is that I KNOW it’s bad. My husband doesn’t seem to have a problem with “I’m Not A Juvenile Delinquent.”

This has been a long introduction to my real subject: Christmas Music.

I love Christmas Music. Mostly because I love to sing in the car, and with Christmas Music I know all the lyrics. How can you not, when you have been hearing the same songs for sixty years?

Starting on Thanksgiving, one of the Connecticut stations (my beloved little convertible is hibernating for the winter, so I am reluctantly back to over-the-air), plays nothing but holiday music until Christmas.

And I listen all month.  And sing.

Now this station doesn’t play any of the traditional carols until about two days before Christmas. I guess they feel that religious music would be offensive or something to non-Christians, whereas “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is perfectly secular.  But I really wish they would add some of the glorious old tunes a little earlier – “Joy To The World”, “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”, etc – if for no other reason than I’d have a bigger variety of songs I know the lyrics to. After all, it would be okay with me if I sang “Sleigh Ride” only 650 times instead of 700 times.

But no; they stick to nondenominational “Sounds of the Season”, and I don’t get any “Silent Night” until December 23.

But I sing away.

I have my favorites. Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” of course, and Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song.” And melancholy Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (although I also love my sweetie-pie James Taylor’s version.)

But Holy Santa, are there ever some terrible Christmas songs out there.

I actually like some dumb songs that most people hate – I think Alvin and the Chipmunks’ “Christmas Don’t Be Late” is adorable. And I belt out “Jingle Bell Rock” with the best of them.

But what the heck is up with “Dominick the Donkey”?  And why is it not against the law to play that song?

I guess there must be some four-year-olds who like “Susie Snowflake”, so maybe mothers are relieved when that comes on and little Emily stops whining for a minute.

But compared to the redeeming toddler-quieting qualities of “Susie Snowflake”, there is no excuse for “Wonderful Christmastime.” Paul McCartney is NOT my favorite Beatle, but he wrote some good music way back when. I rock out to “Maybe I’m Amazed” on a regular basis. But somewhere along the line, McCartney must have decided that 12 minutes is all the time he wants to spend now in writing a song. Fourteen minutes tops if he adds in the time he spends on the arrangement.  It is estimated, by the way, that Sir Paul makes $400,000 every year on “Wonderful Christmastime”. Just think how much money there might have been in it had he spent a whole twenty minutes writing the song.

Yes, I was sure this was the worst Christmas song every recorded, but just like there is always a worse Pat Boone song, I was wrong.

Two days ago I heard:

Jimmy Durante’s “Frosty The Snowman.”

And then I was sure THAT was it.

But yesterday:

“The Christmas Shoes” by someone or other.

There couldn’t be anything worse than that.

Till today.

Bob Dylan:  “Do You Hear What I Hear?”



  1. Chris

    Aw shucks – now I have to return your Christmas present – “A Rock N Roll Christmas”


    • If it has the Beach Boys “Little Saint Nick” – at least Hubby would be happy.


  2. Oh, no. And I thought we were kindred spirits. But you don’t just LOVE “Bobby Sox to Stockings” How could that be? How about Get a Job or Mr. Lee or It’s My Party? Heh.

    But I’m with you on the Bob Dylan Christmas. Just shouldn’t happen.
    Susan in TX


    • I am rather amazed that it happened …. Why, oh why?


  3. You didn’t mention “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” It was funny the first time I heard it about 20 or so years ago but then……..


    • Oh, that’s certainly terrible enough – but I’ll still sing to it. I think it is the polka-y rhythm. When Wonderful Christmastime comes on, I have to turn it off and sing “O Holy Night” a capella.


  4. Sorry Nancy, but this is the real winner. Worst. Song. Ever.


  5. To each her own. Something for everyone: for the tone deaf, for the kiddies, for those who care and don’t care. True, silly Christmas songs have sprouted up over the years but to me, it’s CHRISTMAS. Ride the wave. Ho ho ho.

    I like the way you take a subject apart and pick out strands to make your point. Nancy, you have a definite gift for being clear yet entertaining. Merry Christmas to you, your hubby and the cats.


    • Merry Christmas to you – I’ll sing a chorus of “Winter Wonderland” in your honor.


  6. I know I should feel guilty about it, but “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” is one of my all-time favourite Christmas songs – maybe BECAUSE it’s so bad (and because our local ‘all Christmas music’ radio station doesn’t plays it very often so its sort of a ‘bonus’ to hear it). I love my Kenny (Rogers) and Dolly (Parton) “Once Upon a Christmas” CD and play it incessantly at this time of year; oddly enough, I never hear any of those songs on the radio. I wonder why? Hope you have a very Merry Christmas!


    • You almost never hear Dolly on the radio anymore. She must have done something to irritate the radio industry?


      • The TV special that the CD is based on has never been shown since that first year, either. Very strange!


        • You’re right – that’s just weird.. when they are willing to run the sprockets off everything else.


  7. The only Christmas music I ever listen to anymore is Straight No Chaser and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. I am happy to say I have never heard Bob Dylan singing any kind of Christmas tune, and I will live a long, satisfactory life if I never do.


    • You didn’t click on the link???? I thought you were braver than that! (I saw Big Bad Voodoo Daddy in concert once….very fun)


  8. Christmas Shoes is top on my list of Christmas stinkers. They even took that sappy song and made it a movie! ICK!


    • Luckily, I think “Christmas Shoes” is too awful even for the programming director at the radio station. On the other hand, the programming director seems to love “Dominick the Donkey”…


  9. I love the music, including most of the bad ones. My husband hates almost all of it — they get stuck in his head and he gets crabby.

    So you’ve enabled me to give him an early Christmas present. I am NOT playing that Dylan version for him. Thanks Nancy!

    And Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, and all good things to you Nancy, and your rockin’ husband too.


    • But wouldn’t it be fun to have Dylan’s “Do You Hear What I Hear?” stuck in your husband’s head? Of course, you’d have to listen to him clear his throat for hours.


      • No, I’m pretty sure I’d have to find a shelter for battered women.


  10. I get SOOOO tired of Wonderful Christmastime and Happy Christmas:(“whispering “Happy Christmas, Julian”, “Happy Christmas, Yoko”). And Last Christmas…. I have my Kenny & Dolly CD, and I’m surprised I haven’t played “I’ll Be Home With Bells On” completely to death.Merry Christmas!


    • i’ll admit it – I love John Lennon as much as I dislike Paul McCartney. John could never do anything wrong in my eyes, including “Happy Christmas/War is Over.” Plus it reminds me of my sweet hippie days. The best songs are always the ones that transport you back to who you were.


  11. I love Christmas carols (which is rather ironic, because I’m Jewish) ). To add to the irony, my choir (nearly all of us Jewish) will be performing on Christmas Eve at the Jerusalem YMCA in a Christmas Carol concert for the tourists – and most of the audience is also likely to be Jewish. But beautiful music is beautiful music and if we sing Masses and Magnificats, why not carols?
    I think the main problem with “Do you hear what I hear” is Bob Dylan’s voice (or lack thereof). There are much nicer versions – like that of “Celtic Woman” for example:

    My pet hate (among the more traditional Christmas carols) is “Away in a Manger” which I find abominably twee. I absolutely love “O Holy Night” (preferably as sung by Josh Groban), but of the less traditional songs, I really, really love “The Little Drummer Boy”.

    Have a wonderful Christmas, Nancy.


    • I guess I should be embarrassed to admit it, but sometimes “The Little Drummer Boy” makes me cry. Just today I heard a really sweet folk-song-like version by Burl Ives of all people. I shed a few tears.


      • When I sing it, it does make me cry. There are some songs I can listen to (like “My Yiddishe Mama”) which I can listen to without breaking down, but when I sing them, I feel a lump in my throat and I can’t finish them.


  12. I am an admitted grinch. I hate most Christmas music until today, that’s right I don’t want to hear Christmas music until Christmas Eve. Not Secular not Religious, not anything. It gets on my last nerve and since it has been played since the day after All Hallows Eve in some stores, it is now dancing en pointe on my very last good nerve.

    I do like this one though:


  13. pharphelonus

    Maybe because I now live in the south, this one is hilarious:


    • It makes me very thankful for my Ozzie and Harriet family.


  14. I love Christmas music, and listen to it on our radio for a month or so… in fact, I’ve been known to listen to my CD’s even earlier than that. However, for whatever reason, I HATE Jingle Bell Rock. I’m not really sure why. My daughter even changes the station now when it comes on, since she knows I can’t stand it! Oh, but that donkey song – I only heard it once, and I was like “what the ???” So weird!


  15. Wonderful Christmastime is my least favorite Christmas song ever. It used to be played on the top of ever hour November through December at the department store I worked in during college. Cannot believe he makes that much money from that blasted song!


  16. Dominick the Christmas Donkey really sounds like an SNL sketch. Enjoyed your post!


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