Sunday, December 21, 2008

Peace on Earth: All I Want for Christmas (Is World Peace)

Timbuk 3: All I Want for Christmas (Is World Peace)


Though the intent of this week's theme is to provide an opportunity for both Holiday music and, more generally, songs of peace and fellowship from the entire musical and seasonal spectrum, I couldn't resist kicking things off with a peace-themed song from Christmases past.

I had a thing for Timbuk 3 in the late eighties, thanks to an equally outcast friend who played synthesizer; my fandom was piqued, in part, by the 1987 release of this perfect 80s geek rock holiday single, and it culminated with the following year's release of Out of Eden, before fading into the pre-grunge era as the decade turned.

Looking back, I find most music from the era both dated and precious, as if a packaged piece of childhood. All I Want for Christmas is a perfect sample: quintessentially late eighties, and particularly Timbuk 3, from lead singer Pat MacDonald's wry, unsubtle political songwriting to the faintly fuzzed-out nasal harmonies in doubled fifths. The lyrics are quite a literal commentary on commercialism as a reflection of war, running down a list of violence-inducing toys in each verse before falling into a somewhat petulant, trancelike repetition of wanting world peace instead.

Like much of the Timbuk 3 / Pat MacDonald canon, in fact, it fits well both lyrically and sonically with follow up to yesterday's post on Jim White, albeit a bit more danceable; fans of Oingo Boingo and Wall of Voodoo will find the song especially pleasing. Meanwhile, those looking for a slightly less dated take on the same sentiment will enjoy this live bootleg bluesy electro-folk 1993 cover from similarly politicized post-folkies Bruce Cockburn and Jackson Browne; it takes a minute to warm up, but it's worth it.

Bruce Cockburn and Jackson Browne: All I Want for Christmas is World Peace

[unreleased; popularly available on Santa's Boots]

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