The Kinks, “Father Christmas”

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Some people love Christmas carols, which is why many radio stations start playing them around Halloween and don’t stop until New Year’s. For those who start to get weary of the sounds of the season around this time and can’t bear the thought of another chestnut roasting on an open fire, songs like “Father Christmas” by The Kinks are a perfect antidote.

Released in 1977 as a single, “Father Christmas” stomps all over the tinkling pianos and sleigh bells of most carols with the rapid-fire drums of Henry Spinetti and the hard-charging guitars of Dave Davies. Meanwhile the treacly sentiments common to most December perennials are doused by a cold dose of reality courtesy of Kinks’ frontman Ray Davies.

In England, Father Christmas is the personification of Christmas, a la Santa Claus in the United States. Davies plays off this notion of the jolly bringer of glad tidings and delivers a tale in which the old man can’t quite deliver joy to the whole world. The narrator’s memories of Christmas as a child are mostly positive, the happiness of opening presents outweighing the fact that he knew that Santa is just his dad in disguise.

Now grown, he attempts to return the favor to other kids as a department store Santa. But the reception he receives is far less benign than the usual milk-and-cookies treatment: “A gang of kids came over and mugged me/And knocked my reindeer to the floor.” It turns out that these hooligans are frustrated by the poverty of their families, and, as a result, demand cold hard cash from his bag of goodies: “We don’t want no Jinx or Monopoly... Sign In to Keep Reading

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