A reader writes:
You gotta check out Robert Earl Keen’s "Merry Christmas from the Family." It’s not so much depressing as a hyper-realistic depiction of what most people’s Christmases are probably like: the anti-Norman Rockwell holiday. Plus I’m willing to lay money that it’s the only Christmas song with the word “tampons” in it.
It's not exactly depressing as it is celebratory of a decidedly different (and distinctly southern, or at least Texan) observance of Christmas.
Just this past Monday, I was part of a group of musicians that went down to the local homeless shelter to provide a backdrop for a local church's holiday festival. While I'm probably the least talented musician in the group, for the second year in a row, my stint at the microphone with this four chord two-stepper beat out the intricately finger-picked Joy to the World and an amazingly soulful O Mary Don't You Weep for the loudest and longest applause. Last year, I was concerned that it would be too southern caucasian for the African-American folks in the audience, but they laughed and clapped as loud as anyone. This year, I was a bit more concerned about singing about the controversial Mexican boyfriend with a handful of Latinos in the crowd, but two of them specifically came up afterwards and told me they really liked it.
I take no credit for any of this -- it's Robert Earl Keen's Christmas masterpiece that carries it. People not from the South may misunderstand this as a sneering parody, but it's not at all. It's a song of intense love and acceptance of what is outwardly hilarious dysfunction but is really a picture of adaptation to modernity.
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