We’ve been good, but we can’t last

We’ve been good, but we can’t last December 22, 2012

Here’s Matthew Hagee performing “Let It Snow“:

Needs more theremin.

There’s plenty more where that came from in the hour-long “Christmas With the Hagees” special, featuring the entire Hagee clan, including Matthew and his dad, mega-church pastor John Hagee. It’s a chance to see what life is like at home for televangelists when they’re not railing against evil homosexuals or warning that the Great Tribulation is going to start at any moment.

I don’t care for Matt Hagee’s religious-right preaching, but he’s got a nice voice. Kind of reminds me of Kurt from Glee, if Chris Colfer were middle-aged and rabidly anti-gay.

• Addie Zierman’s “A Merry Little Evangelical Christmas” is in many ways familiar, but her childhood memories of the evangelical subculture are from a different decade than mine.

Her list would also have marked her as dangerously liberal in the circles I grew up in. Zierman cites Amy Grant’s Home for Christmas album as a holiday staple. That came out in 1992 — meaning it is post-Lead Me On and therefore officially controversial. Worse than that, it’s post-Heart in Motion. After “Baby, Baby,” even Amy Grant’s 1983 A Christmas Album became anathema for some of the folks at my church.

• Brandon Hook shares his picks for “Christmas Music That Isn’t Horrible.”

Amanda McInnis says Twisted Sister’s “O Come All Ye Faithful” may be “the strangest, creepiest, incongruous music video ever.” I can’t argue with that (but I’d be happy to hear other candidates).

Public Policy Polling has a bit of frivolous fun with Christmas music:

If voters saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus, 43 percent would tell Daddy, 40 percent would not and 17 percent weren’t sure.

When asked, “If Grandma got run over by a reindeer, would you press charges against Santa?” 61 percent would not press charges, to 24 percent who would. 33 percent of Democrats would press charges compared to 19 percent of Republicans.

PPP also found that the Chipmunk’s rendition of “Christmas Don’t Be Late” is regarded as the most annoying Christmas song, with 36 percent finding it unbearable compared to runner-up “Santa Baby” at 13 percent. The Chipmunk song was also the last Christmas song to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 U.S. Singles chart, in 1958.

Rosie Thomas’ version of the song is gorgeous and not at all annoying. Thomas’ rendition adds a verse and makes it more explicit, but even the annoying Chipmunks version — once you get past the 78-rpm gimmick — is structured as something like an Advent prayer:

We’ve been good, but we can’t last
Hurry Christmas, hurry fast …

That is, as the rabbi said, a kind of “quasi-exilic yearning.”

• This isn’t music- related, but Rebecca Trotter has a beautiful story about Santa Claus. It reminds me of Goblinbooks uncharacteristically cheerful post about the Santa conspiracy. The point isn’t to believe in Santa, but to act like Santa. “Welcome. … You will spend the rest of your life doing wonderful things.” Ho ho ho.

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  • Carstonio

    What about a parody version where the woman tasers the man, something like Bob Dylan’s Duquesne Whistle?

  •  For me, the line “At least I’m gonna say that I tried” makes the song just about salvageable if it’s delivered correctly, since it’s very clear that the subtext there is meant to be “This ‘conflict’ is a social ritual because it is unacceptable for a woman to admit to wanting sex,” (Which is problematic in an entirely different way. It’d be fun to see a rendition that reversed the roles and played up that aspect).  Blow that line and it’s game-over. Nail it, and you’ve got a fighting chance to make the song something other than utterly reprehsensible.

  • Fusina

    The main reason I still like “Grandma got run over” is because for some reason it was my Mother-in-Law’s favorite christmas song. Even after she was a Grandma. Her joy in it made it one of my favorites, and now that she is gone, a good memory of her. I was lucky to get an awesome Mum-in-law. I still miss our 3 hour phone convos, talking about everything and nothing at all.

    I see what you mean about “I saw Daddy”. My favorites on the album are “Green Chri$tma$”, followed by “Christmas at ground zero”, and of course, the Dragnet spoof. “Some people call them green onions, but they’re really scallions.”

  • Amaryllis

     That’s nice. A good association can make even a silly song palatable. And your late mother-in-law sounds like she had a good sense of humor.

    I like those three, too. Also the famous Tom Lehrer “Christmas Carol” –
    Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens,
    Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens.
    Even though the prospect sickens,
    Brother, here we go again.

    I’m old enough to have a vague memory, a la “The Twelve Gifts of Christmas,” of owning a Japanese transistor radio with a genuine letherette case with holes in it so you can listen right through it!

    And I confess to a sneaking fondness for “Santa Claus and His Old Lady.” How does Santa deliver all those goodies in one night?
    oh, man, he took the freeway, man!

  • It just recently occurred to me that the poor man in Good King Wenceslas vanishes from the story after the first verse. It seems sort of off in retrospect that a carol ostensibly about the virtue in taking care of the poor ends without the poor actually getting these supposed blessings.

  • Lori


    And I confess to a sneaking fondness for “Santa Claus and His Old Lady.” How does Santa deliver all those goodies in one night?
    oh, man, he took the freeway, man!  

    I have a weird fondness for that one too. No one seems to play it here so I had to get my annual fix via YouTube. Score another one for the internet.

  • Tricksterson

    I like the Bloom County version:  “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus So I blew Him Away”

  • Tricksterson

    I love this!  Ther song is one of my favorite carols combined with a video showing pagan roots a hundred feet deep.  plus of course Annie Lennox showing once again that she is composed of 100% distilled coolness.

  • Tricksterson

    Well, it’s not what it should be about

  • Tricksterson

    I think it depends on the individual interpretation.  Certainly it can come across that way but it doesnt have to.

  • I’ve never really found Baby it’s cold outside creepy (or especially christmassy).  It’s hard to take it as anything but comedy after you’ve seen the Red Skeleton/Betty Garrett version from Neptune’s Daugher.  (The Tom Jones/Cerys Matthews version – however – is creepy as anything)

  • spinetingler

     Have you heard Mark Lindsay’s version? (He was the lead singer in Paul Revere and the Raiders).

    I posted the full album on my blog a few years ago – his song is near the end of the second side:


  • Tricksterson

    Or like this?:


  • Tricksterson

    “Grandma” is okay the first couple times you hear it.  After that…

  • EllieMurasaki

    I clicked that link and it says the video doesn’t exist.

  • lalouve

    Christina Högman made a record with Jacob Lindberg, Fair, sweet, cruel.

  • Diona the Lurker

    When it comes to threatening wassail songs, I’m rather fond of this one:

    Salford Wassail
    Wassail, wassail all over the placeGive us your money or I’ll punch your faceMy stick it is made of proper good treesIf you don’t pay up I’ll take out your knees.

  • Diona the Lurker

    Can’t you ever stop playing up, Diquis?
    Wassail, wassail all over the place
    Give us your money or I’ll punch your face
    My stick it is made of proper good trees
    If you don’t pay up I’ll take out your knees.

  • Amaryllis

    Can’t you ever stop playing up, Diquis?

     No, it can’t. Not even for Christmas.

    Wassail Wassail, we know you’re about,
    Though you sit in the dark and pretend that you’re out.
    If you’re thinking of calling police to give chase,
    Just who do think is singing the bass?

    Wassail Wassail, all over your garden
    If we’ve done damage then we beg your pardon
    We’re sorry to call upon you so late
    But we had to pick the lock on your gate

    Wassail Wassail, all over for now
    Now you’ve seen sense we will make no more row
    Peace be upon you all at your repose
    And we’ll come no more nigh you until the pubs close

    (more Sid Kipper, from “Death or Glory Wassail”)

    (Edited, because Disqus)

  • Tricksterson

    A couple that haven’t been mentioned yet:

    The Kinks “Father Christmas”

    Jethro Tull’s “Christmas Song”

  • Tricksterson

    What language is that btw?

  • JustoneK
  • Rowen

    I’m gonna leave this here, cause I love this list so much. Plus, it has the Monkees singing Riu Riu Chiu.


  • Jenny Islander

    Well, the thing is Victorian.  The original carol is actually an Easter carol, BTW.  Imagine the tune played brightly and a bit faster than usual and you’ll get a spring dance.

  • Jenny Islander

    My vote for scariest Christmas song ever is “Jingle Bells” as sung by Brad Roberts, lead singer for the Crash Test Dummies, who has a bass-baritone voice.  A BIG bass-baritone singing voice.  A BIG, HOLLOW bass-baritone singing voice.  Think Christopher Lee gone barhopping in the Midwest and you’ve about got it.  He sings it straight.  It’s too scary for the kids.

  • I put together a whole Christmas/Winter album of unusual and good Christmas songs.  My favorites off it are:
    – The Christmas Wish – John Denver and the Muppets – This album has some covers of songs I don’t like (namely, Little Saint Nick), but the original songs are excellent.
    –  Do You Hear What I Hear – Bing Crosby version – Just really lovely.
    – There’s Still My Joy – Indigo Girls – heard this one first at church
    – Glorious – Melissa Etheridge
    – Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto – James Brown – pure awesomeness

  • Annie Lennox does it best, as always:


    Loreena McKennitt’s album “A Midwinter Night’s Dream” is also amazing. 

  • Paul (A.)

    “needs more theremin”?

    Like this?

  • When I see that word I keep thinking people are writing Thevenin. :)

  • Lori

    Annie Lennox is good with Christmas music. Her Christmas Cornucopia album is quite good and the Eurythmics version of Winter Wonderland that someone linked to earlier in the thread is my personal favorite off A Very Special Christmas.

  • This is what I woke up to this morning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnRxH864-o0