Track of the Day: 'Father Christmas'

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Every year for years, I’ve dreaded the arrival of Christmas music. How many times can you hear “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” in one month? One of the few exceptions was that WAPS, a local radio station in Akron, would always play the Kinks’ “Father Christmas.” Forget all the gushy mumbo-jumbo and crass commercialism—as befits the Kinks, it’s irreverent, witty, pissed-off Christmas music. Here’s the chorus:

Father Christmas, give us some money
Don’t mess around with those silly toys.
We’ll beat you up if you don’t hand it over
We want your bread so don’t make us annoyed
Give all the toys to the little rich boys

It’s a funny punch line, but I’ve always found this verse to be rather poignant:

But give my daddy a job ‘cause he needs one
He’s got lots of mouths to feed
But if you’ve got one, I’ll have a machine gun
So I can scare all the kids down the street

Economists have found that giving people cash is the most effective way of providing welfare to the poor.