Counterpoint: It’s Not a ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ Any Longer, In Fact It Never Was
A good waterboarding would be more welcome than the endless loop of “Wonderful Christmastime” that’s sure to come this holiday season. Paul McCartney’s holiday “classic” is ubiquitous, seeping into every crevice of the radio dial. Like glitter, cigar smoke or Pauly Shore jokes, there’s no way to fully cleanse once you’ve been infected.
The song festers along the sides your brain, catchy at first — enjoyable even. Who doesn’t like a good sing-along, right? “We’re simply having a wonderful Christmastime,” McCartney — or country singers like Eli Young Band — state. It’s a sweet sentiment, even if it’s on the back of an arrangement an 8-year-old with a Casio keyboard could master. Seventy seconds in (after four rounds of “We’re simply having a wonderful Christmas time”) a short synthesizer solo interrupts the celebration. It’s a one-handed, descending riff that ushers in an angelic chorus of “Ding dong. Ding dong. Ding dong. Ding.”
Sound effects from the ‘80s arcade classic Galaga collide before the refrain comes again and again. And again. That seed of Christmas insanity planted just behind your ear begins to swell, pushing away rational thought and the natural impulse to flee. It brings with it a tension that will inevitably burst and lead to a love for this brand of brainwashing. Your grip tightens on whatever you’re trying to accomplish as the song spins 'round and 'round, like the wheels of a train headed amiably toward an open abyss with no bottom.
“Ding dong, ding dong, ding dong. Ding”
“Simply having a wonderful Christmas time / We’re simply having a wonderful Christmas time / All work and no play … “
McCartney’s music video for this 1979 moneymaker can only be described as acid-influenced, 30-plus years later. It’s part science fiction, part familial revelry and part over-indulgence in technology that was new and not yet understood. A high moon and his presence are the requisites for a ‘Wonderful Christmastime” — even this song’s most ardent defenders can’t call it anything but lyrically immature.
“A choir of children sing their song / Do-do, do-do, do-do, do-do …”
“Simply having a wonderful Christmas time / We’re simply having a wonderful Christmas time.”
This holiday season, go to the toy aisle of your favorite department store and find a display of stuffed holiday animals that sing when you squeeze their furry bellies. Proceed to squeeze the belly of every animal on display and record the mad sounds that follow. While out of tune and horrific, it’s a less insane noise than what this yearly tradition forces upon us. More than a dozen times the singer and his chums robotically cry out, “We’re simply having a wonderful Christmastime.” And then they have the gall to title their nearly four-minute-long carol “Wonderful Christmastime (All the Best!)”
The Boot and Taste of Country’s collaborative Point / Counterpoint series features staff members from the two sites debating topics of interest within country music once per month. Check back in October for another installment.
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