I have my doubts when approaching Christmas music because by and large, I’m not really a fan of the genre. My problem with it is it tends to force the feeling of happiness on listeners both lyrically and melodically. A musician told me that the reason why artists record Christmas songs is because that music still sells well. She was right, because my friend, singer Lee Taylor, got in touch with me recently about a Christmas song she made with Scone Cash Players called “My First Divorced Christmas (Santa Claus Got a Divorce).”
I suspended my disbelief to hear this out because Lee is a friend. I found that, with the exception of the title, “My First Divorced Christmas” doesn’t really sound like a Christmas song. If anything, it sounds more like a 60’s beach rock tune. Melodically, the song subverts expectations of the Christmas music genre without going to the other extreme other direction of overdoing irony. The chill guitar and vocal harmonies feel genuine, good, and tonally different from most songs of this genre. There’s a surfer rock vibe the organ provided by Adam Scone. Scone, who has collaborated with artists like Lee Fields and Sharon Jones, provides keys that sound like “Green Onions” by Booker T and the MGs, only less upbeat, but still pleasing.
Before listening to this song, I suspected there would be some theatrical and retro elements to the tune. Since Lee and I met in Barbès in Gowanus in April, I’ve watched her sing jazz in drag and nail Robert Plant’s mighty yet melodic vocals at a Led Zeppelin tribute show. There is a dramatic quality to her performance on “My First Divorced Christmas,” one that compliments the instrumental subversion and throwback feel to the sound. Vocally, her singing on this track possesses the same powerfully, bluesy, and hard rock vibe that made her performance at the Zeppelin tribute show so effective.
“My First Divorced Christmas” is a song for those who still buy music in this genre. There’s 7” vinyl floating around of Lee Taylor’s jam somewhere, and it’ll make a fine addition to your collection.
(Song recommendation by Douglas Menagh)