December is a big music month. There is the putting together and sharing of my favorite songs and albums of the year lists. There’s the flood of Christmas music. Combined I spend even more time than normal thinking about tunes. A few notes from the first few weeks of December.

I was driving C. home from a birthday party a couple weeks back when RUN-DMC’s “It’s Tricky” came up on the iPod. C. excitedly let me know that they listened to that song in gym class. I don’t know if that’s true or if they just listened to a song that sounds similar. Didn’t matter to me, though. I proceeded to bust out every lyric of the song, one of a handful of old school jamz I can still spit without error. C. sat in the back, very quiet, with rather wide eyes. I like to think she was impressed/amazed that I knew all the words, but I think she was probably wondering what the hell was wrong with me.

I love the crazy Shuffle possibilities this month brings. While running errands the other day, the iPod went from Frank Sinatra’s “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” t0 DJ Quick’s “Born And Raised In Compton.” No live, breathing DJ would ever try to mix those together!

Let’s face it: a lot of Christmas music is pretty shitty. But in the spirit of the season and through memories of Christmases past, we tolerate a lot of crap. But one thing I will tolerate is any Gloria Estefan holiday song. They are awful, without exception or question. If I was into proclaiming jihads, it would be against Estefan Christmas tunes.

And he might be a legend, but James Taylor can make even the happiest holiday song thoroughly depressing.

Every holiday season one established song jumps out and becomes the song of that particular year for me. Last year, for whatever reason, it was The Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York.” This year’s is K.T. Tunstall’s version of the classic Pretenders song “2000 Miles.” K.T.’s version is absolutely perfect. Like Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” it’s a good enough pop song to play any month of the year. And shame on me for not knowing the back story to the song. Chrissie Hynde wrote it after original Pretenders guitarist James Honeyman-Scott did from a cocaine-induced heart attack in 1982.

Something else I had never looked into was the relationship between Mannheim Steamroller and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I always assumed they were somehow related. But when I finally checked their respective Wikipedia pages, I was disappointed that there isn’t one. No Beatles-like breakup. No Ice Cube leaving NWA beefs. Nothing. Shame, as some backstory like that would make me a lot more interested in their music.
Finally, I’m a sucker for a good song in a movie preview. So props to Judd Apatow for throwing George Harrison’s “What Is Life” into the ads for This Is 40. Forget that the movie about my stage in life1 or that it includes some people I really like. The 6-7 second snip of the song alone makes me want to see it.
It was unrelated to the movie, but Paul McCartney’s appearance at the 12-12-12 concert set off a mini-Twitter argument between a few baseball writers about who really was the second most talented Beatle. Listen, George made a handful of great, great songs, both within in Beatles and after they broke up. But you’re just being intentionally difficult if you assert he was more talented than McCartney. So stop it.

  1. Look out baby boomers, Gen X is finally coming with movies about middle life!