Friday, December 22, 2006

Echoing their joyous strains.

  • Twelve Girls Band "All I Want for Christmas (Is You)" (Mariah Carey cover)
    A few years back I posted My Chemical Romance's version of this, which is still my reigning favorite, but I like this version as well. For different reasons.

  • Dan Bryk "Hard Candy Christmas" (Dolly Parton cover, from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas)

  • Innocence Mission "Edelweiss" (comp. Rodgers & Hammerstein, from The Sound of Music)

  • June "A Wonderful Christmas Time" (Paul McCartney cover)

  • The Rabid Fans "God Rest Ye Weary Shoeless Joe" (Traditional)
    Not a true cover, of course, but it's insane and, therefore, share-worthy.

  • The Smashup "A Coventry Carol" (Traditional)

  • Young Fresh Fellows "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (comp. Brooks/Redner)

  • Leigh Nash "Maybe this Christmas" (Ron Sexsmith cover)

  • Lena Horne "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (comp. Johnny Marks)

  • Nicotine "Do They Know It's Christmas?" (Band Aid cover)
    I'm always willing to forgive the Japanese for things I'd never forgive US bands for. Why is that, exactly?

  • Red Flag "Ave Maria" (comp. Schubert)
    Man. I haven't thought about Red Flag since my Medusa's days. (Non-Chicago folk: Medusa's was a legendary, multi-story all-ages house/synth/goth/punk/industrial club of the '80s & '90s that pretty much ruled.)

  • Reind Dears "(White) Christmas" (comp. Irving Berlin)

  • The Rev. Horton Heat "Santa Bring My Baby Back" (Elvis Presley cover)

  • Secretariat "Angels We Have Heard on High" (Traditional)

  • Syd Straw "(I Am Always Touched by Your) Presents, Dear" (Blondie cover)
    Leave it to Syd to rework this into a Christmas-themed song. I love Syd Straw so much. I'm a little biased because she is, by far, one of the most fun, gracious performers with whom I've had the pleasure to have a conversation or two. Here's my meeting-Syd story:

    More than 10 years ago, I was a hostess at a popular restaurant in Bloomington. Syd came up to pay the bill (I hadn't previously realized she was there) and said something like, "My boyfriend was coming up here to pay the bill, but I've been watching you and I told him I have to go talk to this amazing woman." (I'm not making this up!)

    I responded, "Oh my god! You're Syd Straw!" and she was surprised that I knew who she was. I went on to ramble like a star-struck moron about how I had just seen her cameo in Armistead Maupin's Tales From the City, that I loved her repeating role on The Adventures of Pete and Pete on Nickelodeon, that I had seen her sing backup for They Might Be Giants at the Taste of Chicago the year prior, and that I had taped her on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno doing the same. She said, in her amazing, unique southern drawl, "Wow... that's wiiiild."

    That same night I went to Second Story to see folksinger Iris DeMent since Syd said she'd be there. She and I wound up in the very back of the bar, talking so loudly people were shushing us. Maybe you're not familiar with Syd, but she is a wonderful singer/songwriter who's worked with or is friends with everybody who is anybody ever. I promise. I don't think anyone who meets her could NOT wind up being her friend. She's terribly funny and sweet. We talked REM, Kurt Cobain and Frances Bean and all the best gossip I can't remember now. Later that week, Syd went to the Thursday night karaoke that I'd told her about and she fabulously sang "D-I-V-O-R-C-E." I bought her a Stoli and cranberry and felt like the shit. When she played in Bloomington like a year and a half later (maybe two), she walked right up to me and said,"Hey, Liza! I bet you thought I wouldn't remember you!" She was right.

    About 5 or 6 years ago, I went to see her play at Schuba's and was waiting in line when she walked into the bar and who noticed me immediately and came by to chat. She told me she was nervous but that she thinks it'll be okay "because Elliott Smith is playing on the jukebox. I love Elliott Smith ." And, of course, I was the one who had played the song in the first place. ("Waltz #2," in case you're interested).

    Syd's songs are all witty and in that deliciously sentimental country-pop vein. But the best thing about her shows is that, even if you don't know her, you feel like you do. I always feel as if she's the host of a giant party and has been egged on by the guests to play. She is absolutely hilarious and I wish I could be around her all the time.
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