My Favorite Christmas Songs: They’re Both By “The Kinks”— Go Figure!


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My favorite Christmas song, hands down, is Father Christmas by The Kinks. A weird choice perhaps for a middle-aged suburban American white woman, but there it is. Unlike most Christmas songs it is neither warm nor fuzzy. It is not in any way religious (unless anarchy is your religion). It’s in-your-face and snarky; it’s dark and loud. While certainly not full of the Christmas spirit, it is full of truth and anger. There are no visions of sugarplums. It conjures, instead, legions of poor little thugs telling Santa what they really need: money. And threatening to “beat [him] up if you don’t hand it over”.

The story is told through the eyes of a guy who dressed up as Father Christmas outside a department store. It opens with, “When I was small I believed in Santa Claus/even though I knew it was my Dad”. The narrator goes on to become a department store Santa Claus and recounts his experience, “the last time I played Father Christmas/I stood outside a department store/A gang of kids came over and mugged me/And knocked my reindeer to the floor”. No question about it… this experience soured him on playing Father Christmas ever again.

It’s about being poor in a land of plenty. It was the first Christmas song that I ever heard that brought me back to the times in my life when we did not have much. Not having enough to eat, seeing your parents struggle is difficult any time of the year, but it is so much more evident at Christmastime. When Ray Davies sings, “Give my Father a job cause he needs one/he’s got lots of mouths to feed”, well that line just about kills me; its rawness and honesty get me every time I hear it.

Four short years later and on the other end of the spectrum, The Kinks released Better Things; so hopeful and melodious. It’s the anti-Father Christmas. I hear it a lot around the holidays (it has always gotten far more radio play than Father Christmas), usually around New Year’s. I love them both. When I hear one I cannot help but think about the other. Undoubtedly what appeals to me is the idea that darkness and light, despair and hope, live together in each of us.

Here’s to putting the bitterness behind you! Happy Christmas!

NOTE: This is one of the first posts I ever wrote. I tweaked it and reblogged it here. Back then I was, truly, writing for myself. Since I now have quite a few more followers, I wanted to share it with you.

The Pearl Jam cover of Better Things is worth a listen, too! I’m a sucker for Eddie Vedder, though! Fountains of Wayne doesn’t do a bad job either… and it’s nice to be able to mention this band without referencing “Stacy’s Mom” (also, they’re a local band!)

What’s your favorite Christmas song?

21 thoughts on “My Favorite Christmas Songs: They’re Both By “The Kinks”— Go Figure!

  1. […] written about these songs and my relationship with them at length in the past. Suffice it to say that BETTER THINGS is very […]

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  2. […] My Favorite Christmas Songs: They’re Both By “The Kinks” – Go Figure! (javaj240.wordpress.com) […]

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  3. […] My Favorite Christmas Songs: They’re Both By “The Kinks” – Go Figure! (javaj240.wordpress.com) […]

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  4. […] My Favorite Christmas Songs: They’re Both By “The Kinks” – Go Figure! […]

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  5. javaj240 says:

    The horror! Glad I was able to fill in this pop culture gap for you!

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  6. wedelmom says:

    I too have an affinity for The Kinks and remember song #2, but not #1. hmmmm….wonder how I missed that? Love your thoughts on it. As usual – primo post!

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  7. hmmm…I wasn’t expecting to get a little choked up reading this post when I read the first few lines! Great post!

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  8. rossmurray1 says:

    God bless us, every Kink.

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  9. ethelthedean says:

    Holy sheeeez! Fountains of Wayne…totally bringing me back to grade twelve here…

    My favourite Christmas songs are all done by the brilliant east coast band the Barra MacNeils. Or the late Canadian treasure Stan Rogers. I am also partial to many of the songs on the Love Actually soundtrack and whoever sings Rocking Around the Christmas Tree in Home Alone.

    I love you Ms. J. That is all. ❤

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    • javaj240 says:

      I’ll have to check some of those out!

      Yeah… Fountains of Wayne are actually from right around here.. they named the group for an iconic store on Rt. 46 in Wayne that sells… wait for it… Fountains! LOL. One of my coworkers knows them pretty well… I am trying to get him to get them to play at Project Graduation for my daughter’s class… because “Stacy’s Mom” is still one of the most requested songs at every dance/event that these guys attend.. which was really interesting when they were 7 (some of the girls had older siblings and liked the song…. 7 year olds singing along with it was a little unnerving, LOL).

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  10. Okay that made me verklempt, which I can never remember how to spell. It’s been a verklempt kind of week. Thanks for your sweet note on my Christmas songs post. And thanks for sharing this – loved it.

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  11. Awesome! Love that song, so in your face.

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  12. wigsf says:

    Did the kinks ever remake Lola to be about Santa?
    “I’m not the worlds most festive guy
    But when I sat on his lap…”
    Somebody more talented than I could pull it off.

    My fave, Santa Claus is coming to town by Bruce & and the e street band

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    • javaj240 says:

      IDK about the Lola… LOL!

      Of course Bruce’s version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is one of my faves… I’m a Jersey girl!

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  13. Rick says:

    Anything by The Kinks is good.

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