Songs of the season

In these troubled eekonomic times—possibly the 33rd article you’ve seen in the last two months beginning with those five words? Warning: will not be the last!—it’s always wonderful when a columnist can give you a helpful tip on how to make some extra cash so you can load up the larder with extra boxes of Hamburger Helper. It’s even more wonderful when that tip isn’t just good for an extra hundred, or even 5,000 bucks, but for something in the eight-digit realm. So here ya go, a surefire way for you to make a cool 10 mill, with which I’m sure you’d find something to do. Just write a fabulous new Christmas song. Please?

America desperately needs new holiday tunes. How could anyone disagree? Year after year, we roll out the same batch of hoary hits and pound ourselves silly with them for a solid month. By now, it’s obvious to anyone over the age of 8 that the entire repertoire is in dire need of some new blood. Who will step up and be the next Irving Berlin? Gloria in excelsis deo!

In the category of what might be considered “modern” Xmas tunes, well, they’re not modern at all. “White Christmas,” which bagged an Oscar for Berlin, debuted in the 1942 film Holiday Inn. “The Christmas Song” (featuring those bleeping chestnuts), was penned by Mel Torme 64 years ago. And “Merry Christmas Baby” was fired up by the team of Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore in 1958, and has been recorded approximately 96,784 times. Lou, Johnny, and their families, one can safely assume, all live in enormous houses on enchanted hills. You, on the other hand, continue to toil in brutish obscurity. The difference? One lousy three-minute smash hit holiday tune.

To be sure, there have been some fairly recent and somewhat successful stabs taken. John Lennon wrote the oft-recorded “Happy Xmas, War is Over,” but, let’s face it, it’s tough to achieve that cloud-dwelling “White Christmas” status with a tune that reminds listeners that our planet is, at any given time, pestered by multiple armed conflicts. “Santa Baby,” while refreshingly honest in its naked desire for quality goods, is just, in the end, too doggone materialist to achieve the steady chaching-ability of, say, “Winter Wonderland.” As for “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” well, the most gentlemanly course of action would be for me to pretend that I just didn’t hear you, in hopes that maybe you’ll go away.

Should you choose to accept this challenging but lucrative songwriting assignment, there are a few things to remember. (1) Sleighs aren’t a big deal here in the new millennium. Forget ’em. (2) The words “jingle” and “deck” are crispy toast. (3) Bringing Jesus back as a volunteer in a homeless shelter or food bank—solid gold. (4) Mangers confuse people. Avoid. (5) Consider climate change. Then, write awesomely catchy song about “Sienna Christmas.”