How do you top the worst year you can recall? How about one that is marginally better! But hey… the year isn’t over. I have faith that humanity can really fuck it up in the next three weeks. With that, I present this 17th edition of my yearly Christmas mix to soundtrack the end of days. These mixes are never really finished in my head. I’m already rearranging it, kicking off a track or two, and replacing them. If only I could pull a Kanye and have it change from day-to-day. Wait, scratch that. I don’t wish being Kanye on anyone, especially myself. As for the contents, the mix is (as always) quite international. If I counted correctly, only 10 of 23 artists featured here are from my home country. I love that about this process… since good Christmas music is so hard to find, you really have to dig around absolutely everywhere, and you just never know where you’ll strike gold. One also should never expect my mix to be a roundup of what was good this year, as I truly do not care when a song came out. Is the song amazing? Great, it will make a mix someday… when it just feels right. I simply want to codify them into my life, so that I can easily revisit them whenever I need to. Songs… scents… small items you hold on that aren’t worth a dollar to anyone but you… These are just a few things that unlock the holidays for me every year, and thus I submit my time capsule of future nostalgia, This is Just a Modern Xmas Song.
So here we are. This year is nearly over. The unwarranted feeling of relief is taking over, despite what that lies before us. So, as I listen to this Billy Bragg record that hasn’t left my changer for years and very much not a Christmas album, I release this sixteenth Christmas mix into the world. This could have been an extremely dark Christmas. We could be staring down record-setting pandemic infections AND four more years of him. Last night I was imagining the songs that folks have written, perhaps even recorded, that will now go unheard because the feeling is just different now. Those who read my blog will not be surprised by many of the choices, as I show my cards all season long. There are some weird ones, some ridiculously beautiful ones, some older ones that needed the right home, and a finale that should be a radio hit if people listened to the radio like they used to. The only connective thread is that every song is a song I truly love. Perhaps you’ll find you do too.
Honestly, I’m just so relieved that it is a rather happy mix… something that I couldn’t even imagine earlier in the year.
Something seems to go wrong every year, but somehow I have managed to make 15 of these things. Thanksgiving being so late this year pushed everything back, and I’m still catching up. This year’s mix is dominated by multiple tracks off the incredible Fowler VW / Blackwatch compilation (review STILL to come), as well as the Merge You Wish release, which really grew on me. I dipped back a few years to resurrect a long-lost The Films’ track, and took advantage of a couple great songs that came out late in last year’s cycle. The struggle was to keep this mix happy, as is often the case. If you read the blog, you’ll know I tend to skew toward the melancholy, so my wife has to run interference and keep me from sending out something that is going to be a total bummer. I believed I avoided that bummer pothole, and have created something that I certainly like, and perhaps you will too. Merry Christmas!
Eastern Conference Champions
It’s Christmas (What’s The Difference)
Show Me Light And Love
Mac McCaughan & Annie Hayden
Down We Go (Sledding Song)
Christmas in July
The Christmas Light
Signs & Wonders
Virgin of the Birds
Christmas in the Borough of Our Birth
Won’t Be Alone Tonight
Pedro The Lion
Christmas is a Time for Dreaming
Underneath the Mistletoe
Lonely Man of Winter (feat. Melissa Mary Ahern)
Christmas For Cowboys
Paul Thomas Saunders
Christmas, The Sequel
The Classic Brown
Christmas Time (Keep It Together)
Merry Christmas on New Year’s Eve
Christmas, Burn it All (Featuring the Olive Grove All-Stars)
I’ve run two music blogs in my day. The first one was all about limited edition and import music. Cool vinyl pressings and bonus tracks, all before vinyl got crazy. Now, I run a Christmas music website, which is quite different, yet so similar in many ways. Both required a whole lot of searching for that special song, that great record, and both required my reader to BUY something. Christmas Underground is not, and will never be, your place for free Christmas music. Yes, some songs are free by the generosity of the artist, but if I can, I always try to encourage them to, at the very least, set up a Bandcamp with a “name your own price.” Art is work, and artists deserve to be paid. With that, I’m curious as to what services you all actually buy your digital music from. I always defer to services with the highest source material (Bandcamp and 7Digital offer FLACs), but realistically, most folks shop at Amazon. So… let me know if I’m either wasting my time by posting so many options or equally, let me know if I’m not posting the site that you most like to do business with. Feed my curiosity and please answer the poll below.
Update: So, for some reason, the poll did not allow multiple answers, but it does not. You can choose up to 4 answers.
As you can see, I’ve begun the big push towards the Christmas season. I’m posting more now than I had been (even though I try to keep SOME new posts coming during the year), and I’m beginning to think deeply about this year’s mix. I always do my best to provide a link to purchase the song, because that is what I need to create my primary CD and MP3 versions of my mix. But it got me thinking… how many folks just create playlists? Should I be providing links to Spotify/Apple Music/etc? I’ve never experienced anyone just sending a playlist as their official Christmas mix, but I’m also middle-aged, so while I’m not unplugged from the kids, I’m obviously not a kid. Thus, out of curiosity, please take a look at the poll below and let me know your Christmas mix distro flavor(s).
Please leave comments! The poll is great, but I’d love to know more about how you distribute, what you’ve found that works or does not work, etc.
Well, I probably should have posted something earlier, but the holidays are always extremely busy. With getting ready for Christmas, preparing for company, and traveling, it can be hard to find time for the one thing that I try to do all year… write about cool Christmas tunes. I found a bunch more too. Whether I get them on here ASAP is best left to the soothsayers, mystics, the oracles and the like… because I have no idea. I’m presently away from home, using my phone as a hotspot and just letting you know I haven’t forgotten you all. Merry Thursday December 27th everyone. Hope it was a magical for you as it was for me. Come back soon – I’m here all year. And call your mother.
Well, here ya go. Hopefully since it is done, I’ll be able to get back to writing blog posts! I would have assumed there would have been some more political stuff that I’d want to include this year, and while there has been some nice ones (Quiet Company), it hasn’t quite panned out as I expected. I thought this mix was going to be full of hilarious vitriol, but instead I found myself trying to speed it up a bit. There is lots of sweet stuff on here, some longing, some French and Italian, and some swearin’. I hope you enjoy.
Hello readers, the few I have left 🙂 Just wanted to apologize for being so darn quiet for the past week. I’ve celebrated Christmas with my family, bought a car (always fun….), traveled 6.5 hours, hung out with my parents, sister, nephews and family, and played in the snow with my son. It has kept me from even looking at what came out from Dec. 24 until today. I’m going to be way, way behind. Hopefully everything doesn’t disappear over the next few days…
I write about this extremely niche subject all year long, with unexplainable bursts of content followed by weeks of radio silence, so check back in here and there and make me feel like folks are out there. It always feels better when someone actually stops by.
Happy New Year. Hope that this year is better than the last.
Greetings readers. Our dear blogger-friends Lieinthesound.de have a Christmas wish this season. For years they have been active refugee supporters, and have recently found themselves even more personally involved. I will let Brigitte and Christoph tell the story:
Late September 2016 whilst browsing through Facebook Brigitte found the urgent scream for help of a young African refugee. He had gotten his deportation note with a fix date, time and already booked flight. A year later he is still living in Berlin (Germany). It’s been quite a task but we managed to stop the deportation. Adam has grown to be family for us. We are still fighting to get him a full legal status. At the moment he only has a “ban of deportation” (German: Duldung). He’s not allowed to work nor go to school. He’s going to a school run by volunteers though. Adam is part of a group which is under special protection from the protestant church. This doesn’t keep him safe from harm but gives us hope and some support to build a future for him. At the moment we are paying for a room in a shared flat and there’s other expenses for things like meds, tickets for public transportation. We also help his mother and sister, who live in a refugee camp in Darfur (Sudan). Adam’s father died while fighting against the army of the dictator of Chad. Neither Adam nor his mother and sister can go back to Chad as their family is well known for being part of the political opposition.
This fall Adam introduced us to Ali + Fatima and their seven beautiful children. Their situation is difficult to say the least. We are still busy doing all the research to fully understand the legal aspects. At the moment they are put up in a refugee shelter outside of Berlin. The whole family of nine people has only two rooms. We are trying to find a flat for them. This means we have tons of appointments at different public offices, that’s why we need money to buy train tickets. We also need money to fund a good lawyer for them.
So, I just donated to help Adam, Ali + Fatima, so that they might have a better future for their families, themselves, and those yet to come. Brigitte and Christoph help light up your Christmas season every year, I hope if you find yourself with a couple of bucks, you’ll consider doing the same. Please help spread the word if you can. I’m sure there’s a tastemaker out there with more followers than all of our little Christmas blogs combined… I’m looking at you @awesomeperson.
This year’s mix began taking shape at the end of 2016, its direction was solidified the moment I heard Mac McCaughan’s “Happy New Year (Prince Can’t Die Again).” This year would have some four letter words, sexual situations, whatever might come, as I decided to allow myself this freedom every few years and not play it around my kid. I’ve done my best to remember to mark which songs have the fucks and the shits (hehe), but alas, I may have missed one; that oversight would certainly be classic me. As for the rest of the content, there are some angry songs, some sad songs, and some damn sweet songs, the highlight of the latter being Charlie’s Hand Movements’ “Until the 25th.” Damn, I love the ending to that song. Hopefully you’ll dig it, as this moment is really why I do this blog. I created Christmas Underground largely as a resource to keep track of my own search for music. By sharing, perhaps others would also share with me and not make it such a long, hard slog. I’ve met many wonderful people who have done just that – and I hope to hear from even more of you in the future. So, the blabbing is over, the listening begins.