Sing a song of severed heads

December 2, 2014

Jason Johnson
The Sneezing Opossum

Most people know that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer began as a marketing scheme by Montgomery Ward, which was having trouble moving its boxes of unsold radioactive reindeer noses.

The song became a pop-culture gold mine, inspiring generations of kids with its uplifting message: Bullying is unacceptable, at least when the victim has a birth defect that makes him ideal for shitty manual labor.

When most young people learn of Rudolph’s origins, they’re often surprised that he was born in such a crass commercialized fashion, but, as we all know, there is no place in Christmas for virgin births.

Personally, I was surprised to learn that “Do You Hear What I Hear” only dates back to 1962. I’d always assumed that, much like Mitch McConnell’s worldview, it was from the Mesozoic Era.

Also, did you know that it had a melody and coherent lyrics? You probably didn’t if all you ever heard was Bob Dylan’s version.

Here are more fun facts about Xmas songs for you to unwrap:

•Before those assholes in marketing got a hold of it, “The First Noel” was originally called, “The 407th Noel.” The word “Noel” comes from the French word “Noël,” meaning, “the former lead singer of Oasis.”

•Contrary to the lyrics of “Jingle Bells,” Batman maintains a hygienic regimen and Robin is incapable of reproducing asexually. Also, anyone who actually sings the “ha ha ha” after “laughing all the way” can be legally shot in the face.

•The English carol “Here We Come A-wassailing” includes a line assuring listeners that the singers aren’t hobos. Only 18 percent of a-wassailers reach that verse before being assaulted by Michael Bloomberg.

•It was a “Silent Night” until that fucking drummer boy showed up.

•“Joy to the World” tops the list of carols that produce stifled laughter with, “The Lord is come.” It is also one of only three Christmas carols written about a bullfrog.

•“The Twelve Days of Christmas” isn’t really about gifts. It’s about a twelve-step program designed to cure her true love’s obvious OCD.

•“The Boar’s Head Carol” is an actual—swear-to-god-it’s-real—carol about sacrificing a boar and serving its head at Christmas, which is still a socially acceptable alternative to fruitcake.

•The “fa la la” part of “Deck the Halls” comes from a Welsh expression meaning, “I’ll finish the lyrics later.” The original also had a line that went, “Oh, how soft my fair one’s bosom,” but it could not be sung by grade-school choirs or alternative newspaper columnists without giggling.

•“O Tannenbaum” was originally called “Ach Tannebaum,” which is the sound a German makes when a tannenbaum gets caught in his throat. The original version was not about Christmas, but about a cheating lover, which is about as cheerful as a German Christmas carol can get.

•The lyrics to “O Little Town of Bethlehem” have been sung to at least three different melodies, including the British “Forest Green,” the American “St. Louis,” and whatever Sarah McLachlan pulled out of her ass. It was inspired by a city that Superman keeps in a jar.

•Although the song says, “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day,” it actually took place the following Tuesday, due to rain. The verse includes these actual lines: “Then on a cross hanged I was, where a spear my heart did glance/There issued forth both water and blood to call my true love to my dance.” Apparently, just buying her a drink was out of the question.

•Strange but true: The lyrics to “O Holy Night” were written by a French atheist. Stranger still, he enjoyed Cher’s version, even though he did not believe in life after love. (Besides, we all know Barlowgirl does the most kickass version.)

•I know there are plenty of Xmas songs about celebratory sex (“Santa Baby,” “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” “Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney”), but none have gone mainstream like “Jingle Bell Rock.” Its only true competition is “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

•“Greensleeves” is an old English melody often thought to be about a prostitute. It was changed to “What Child Is This” after the prostitute slapped one of her clients with a paternity suit.

•The tradition of standing during Handel’s “Messiah” dates back to the mistaken belief that King George II stood during the performance. However, he never attended any “Messiah” performance, so the next time your church pulls this crap, just keep sitting and smiling unctuously, much like you do when they pass the collection plate. If they play the entire two-hour version, it is acceptable to stand, but only if you’re walking out.

•Despite making 10 billion albums that overflow every Salvation Army CD shelf in the country, no one likes Mannheim Steamroller. There, I said it.

I’m done.


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