Sunday, November 27, 2016
The Free Design, "Close Your Mouth (It's Christmas)"
From now until Christmas I am making all of my tracks of the week holiday songs. For many years I could've taken or left Christmas, but since getting married and having kids I've been enjoying it a lot more. Seeing the joy in my children's faces has rekindled my love of Christmas. This year, with all of the impending doom in the air, I need the distraction of the holidays more than ever.
In recent years I have also been searching out holiday music that doesn't suck. It is probably the most wretched genre of music, where even great artists like Paul McCartney and the Beach Boys produce atrocities like "Wonderful Christmastime" and "Little Saint Nick." Most of the time I stick to jazz interpretations of holiday standards, old school country Christmas songs, and the Christmas songs of James Brown and Bessie Smith. Last year through a podcast I discovered a totally different song by The Free Design, an obscure vocal pop group of the late 1960s-1970s.
"Close Your Mouth (It's Christmas)" is jazzy with the same subtle bongo drums that underlay the original Star Trek theme. This is the kind of thing that 90s neo-lounge groups like Saint Etienne drew inspiration from. The mood is relaxing, and not stereotypically "Christmasy." There's no bells or glockenspiels or overly earnest lyrics. Nope, it's a nice little chill tune about putting away the "bank book" and enjoying Christmas as a time for connection and family, not for consumption. I appreciate how this message gets delivered without the usual treacly sentiment or over the top bombast so common to Christmas music.