Winter Revolution: A Holiday Playlist for the Rest of Us

5 12 2010

“He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”

– Luke 1:51-53, NIV (from “Mary’s Song”)

See the whole list on YouTube – A Holiday Playlist for the Rest of Us

1. Matisyahu – “Miracle”

The cover of the album "Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration." Released in 1992 by Warner Alliance.

2.  Rage Against The Machine – “No Shelter”

3.  Patti Austin – “But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming”

(from the album Handel’s Messiah, A Soulful Celebration)

4. Stevie Wonder – “Someday At Christmas”

5. Flobots – “Whip$ and Chain$”

6. Kirk Franklin – “Revolution”

7. Tracy Chapman – “Talkin’ Bout A Revolution”

8.  Erran Baron Cohen (feat. Jules Brookes & Y-Love) – “Dreidel”

9. John Lennon – “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”

10. Anita Baker – “Christmas Time Is Here” (originally from A Charlie Brown Christmas)

11. Kanye West – “Family Business”

12. Donny Hathaway – “This Christmas”

13. Queen – “Thank God It’s Christmas”

14. Green Day – “Holiday”

15. Ben Harper – “Better Way”

16. Enya – “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel”

17. Adam Sandler – “The Hanuka Song”

18. Common – “The Light”

19. U2 – “Peace on Earth”

20. Jars of Clay – “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman”

21. José Feliciano – Niño Jesus

22. Kurtis Blow – “Christmas Rapping”

23. Lauryn Hill – “Joyful Joyful”

24. Paul Simon – “Getting Ready for Christmas Day”

25. Will Smith Feat. K-Ci – “Will 2K”

Honorable Mentions — Some of my favorite holiday moments from TV and film

If you’ve ever worked retail during the holidays like I have, than you’re probably familiar with one of the greatest ironies of the so-called “War on Christmas.

For a moment we’ll set aside the “I worship the Christ child by shopping” thing. (How spiritual could your celebration really be when it’s primary expression takes place in a mall?)

For now we’ll just focus on the sneaking suspicion that many of the people who are the most indignant about too little “Merry Christmas” talk at retail establishments are the very same ones making the holidays a nightmare for retail workers.

From the moment some of us walk into a store, we  feel entitled to treating everyone (including other shoppers) with utter disrespect. And then, after hundreds of shoppers have run the employees ragged in a prolonged materialist frenzy, we wonder why the workers don’t feel very “merry?”

Newsflash: Maybe retailers aren’t singing Nat King Cole because consumers’ obnoxious behavior puts them in more of a Cee Lo Green sort of mood.

And did I mention the music? Who really wants to contend with masses of shoppers while listening to “contemporary” versions of “Frosty the Snowman” all day long? If only someone who really understood could choose the playlist…

Christmas should be about revolution. When the shepherds and angels worship the “newborn king,” it’s a direct indictment of Herod, the head of an imperialist puppet government. He was kind claiming the title with Caesar’s blessing at the time. He even (quite predictably) wanted the potential revolutionaries dead.

Representatives of the occupying empire are the main villains of the story. (One might even say it all takes place in “occupied Palestine.”) And consider that one of the primary images of Christmas features “wise men” — rich, well-connected, educated elites — bowing to a messiah that had previously been born in what was the ancient equivalent of somebody else’s garage.

Modern American appetites have turned the Nativity story into a way to cater to folks with a black card. But if the Nativity is about anything, it’s about ushering in a kingdom in which “the last will be first and the first will be last.”

So in that spirit, this playlist is a shout out to everyone who experiences the underside of America’s favorite season of wanton excess — the retailers at the local mall; the sweatshop workers in China building stuff to stock the shelves; the soldiers dodging bullets and bombs far from home; the parents who know all too well that Santa will never come to their town. This one’s for the liberation of the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed.

As Linus would say, “that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”



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One response

8 12 2010

Great playlist! And I agree that the “Praise Santa” segment from Boondocks is pretty great! “Revolution” as a Christmas selection is a great idea, too…

I’d throw in some classics like “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” (simple yet profound) and “O Holy Night” (bit of abolitionist commentary).

I’ve been listening to a classical rendition (from the London Philharmonic) of Messiah over the last few holiday seasons. There’s some good stuff that Jones didn’t include. I had “Thou shalt break them” (from Ps. 2, follows the verses sung in “Why do the nations rage…”) stuck in my head last week. And of course, there’s the famous “Hallelujah Chorus”: “The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ…” Hallelujah, indeed…

Have you heard Beck’s “Little Drum Machine Boy”? Hilarious and fun. 🙂

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