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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Is Interesting/Jonathan Coulton

Jonathan Coulton's Christmas Is Interesting, from his 2003 album Smoking Monkey, overflows with references to Christmas as it is depicted in popular culture; here we'll focus on the literary ones. The song's second line--It's time for a long winter's nap--is a quick nod to Clement C. Moore's 1823 poem A Visit from St. Nicholas (aka The Night Before Christmas), but that is followed by a meatier reference to O. Henry's 1906 short story The Gift of the Magi: He takes your watch and he gives you a hairbrush/Your wife gets a wig on a chain. Near the end of the song we are present for the visit by Marley's ghost from Charles Dickens' 1843 novel A Christmas Carol: You go to bed and wait for Jacob Marley/He comes to make you feel brave/But under his cloak he is nothing but smoke/And a finger that points at your grave. Other references include the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV special, Citizen Kane, and It's a Wonderful Life. Penning lines that compare Christmas to a knife in the heart or a stick in the eye, Coulton clearly has some issues with the season; but his song still makes us want to put on our feety pajamas.

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