Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Anatomy of The Christmas Shoes, Revisited (Still Again)

This is the seventh Christmas season for Greenlee Gazette, amazing as that seems to me. And though this year I haven't heard it yet, every other year, I couldn't escape the worst Christmas song in history.  It isn't possible to inflict enough derision upon the now perennial The Christmas Shoes. It's abysmal. It's horrific. It deserves far more crap flung at it than has ever been flung. So here is my effort, from the early days of the blog, to put this lame-ass song in its place. This post has appeared on the blog each of the last six years. This year, I present it again, with a few additions and changes. . .

As you head into your holidays, you are undoubtedly going to be assaulted by Christmas carols somewhere. And if you're like me, you will unwittingly overhear The Christmas Shoes by NewSong, one of the worst songs of all time.

I was inspired to write my own dissection of the song after reading "The Annotated Christmas Shoes," on the (sadly now gone) Diary of a Blood Ray (aka The B Pryde Machine) blog years ago. The first time I heard the song, my reaction was much the same as Blood Ray's. I wasn’t moved to tears. I didn’t find the song precious or heartwarming. The song actually kind of pissed me off.

The more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that this song was brainstormed (if you can call it that) to be as manipulative of people’s emotions as possible. I can envisioned the writers sitting down to write a sappy Christmas song, trying to pluck the heartstrings until they frayed. Now that the season is upon us, this hideous song has already started to play. And play. And play. And I just can't take it.

So, taking a page from Blood Ray (whose post I miss, and so wish I had saved), here is my own version, which I call "Anatomy of The Christmas Shoes." Because I'm dissecting this hideous beast. Put on your glasses, I'm shrinking the font because of length.

Image from Blood Ray's original post.
Anatomy of "The Christmas Shoes" by NewSong

It was almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line
OK, It sets the scene, and it’s not so bad yet. It does manage to telegraph what’s coming though.

Tryin' to buy that last gift or two, not really in the Christmas mood
Still setting the scene, but there’s the country-fried tryin’ as though "trying" wouldn’t be heartwarming enough.

Standing right in front of me was a little boy waiting anxiously Here’s where my cynic antennae start going up. I’m thinking the writers picked a boy, because a girl would just naturally do something nice for her mom. So, yeah, let’s make it a boy, to make it more poignant.

Pacing 'round like little boys do Filler. You can’t really pace in a line, and little boys don’t do it more than anyone else, do they? Did he have to pee?

And in his hands he held a pair of shoes
Yes, the titular shoes. Why shoes? I’ll tell you why shoes. Because if the writers made it a hat, bra, panties, dress, or almost any other item of clothing a woman might wear, he’d seem gay. Believe it.

His clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe
The scene was set, but this goes wayyy over the edge. Apparently, this is to show that the boy is poor. What it does for me is tell me that his parents aren’t taking care of him. He's not just poor, he's neglected. He’s wandered away from home, unsupervised. He’s wearing rags, and he is filthy. What kind of home does this kid come from?

And when it came his time to pay I couldn't believe what I heard him say
Cheesy writing to get to the chorus. You couldn’t believe it? Really?

[Chorus:] Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
Because a dress would be too gay, remember. Also, this line is jarring. "Shoes" is so far from rhyming with "please," it almost audibly shrieks out, doesn’t rhyme, doesn’t rhyme!

It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Maybe he’s a little gay after all. What little boy knows his mom’s shoe size? Or style?

Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time
Where was Daddy when you needed a bath, and your clothes wore out? Why doesn't Daddy know where junior is?

You see she's been sick for quite a while
Another line to make you feel sad, Mama’s dying on Christmas. OK, I won’t pick this one apart yet. . .

And I know these shoes would make her smile One of the more baffling parts of the song. Shoes might be the very last thing on Mama’s mind right now. But this line. . .amazingly. . .rhymes.

And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonightOK, back to Mama dying on Christmas. Apparently, she’s not only dying, she’s dying of one of those women’s movie/soap opera diseases that doesn’t disfigure you. I mean, if all it takes to make her beautiful is a yummy pair of shoes, she can’t look too bad, can she?

And I haven’t even mentioned the cloying, syrupy, calculated to make you cry "if Mama meets Jesus" part. People! If this stuff works on you, you need to know that you’ve been played! It is quite simply
is calculated to turn the Left Behind readers all gooey inside.

He counted pennies for what seemed like years

Because that makes the story somehow more precious. If he simply was short a bit of paper money, it wouldn’t seem so annoying/cute.

Then the cashier said, "Son, there's not enough here"
This kid is not only alone, filthy and in ratty clothes, he’s too young to know how to count money. Interesting. . .

He searched his pockets frantically
This kid’s a grifter. And a good actor too. He's the boy version of Tatum O'Neal from Paper Moon!

Then he turned and he looked at me
Sizing you up, no doubt. . .

He said Mama made Christmas good at our house, Though most years she just did without Laying it on a little thick there, kid.

Tell me Sir, what am I going to do,
This kid is far too articulate to match up to the rest of the song. Maybe he’s not just a grifter, but a midget grifter.

Somehow I've got to buy her these Christmas shoes I’d swallow it if it were almost anything but shoes. What kid—especially a boy—would get so set on shoes? Does Daddy force Mama to go barefoot at home? Is that what’s going on here? Is Daddy abusive? Maybe Mama’s going to meet Jesus, and Daddy says there’s not much time because Daddy’s gonna kill her? Okay, now I'm laying it on thick. It just shows you how hard my brain tries to paint a picture out of this ridiculous plot.

So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out I’d have rhymed that better too. Finish it with, "’cause my heart had come around" or something.

I'll never forget the look on his face when he said Mama's gonna look so greatSorry, I still don’t get it. If Mama’s only problem with "looking great" is footwear, she had options. Socks, maybe? And it still doesn't rhyme. They should've spent less time being cloying, and made the friggin' thing rhyme.

[Chorus] Even worse the second time around.

[Bridge:] I knew I'd caught a glimpse of heaven's love What? How? Maybe being an atheist obscures this for me, but how does an untended, filthy kid, lousy at math, but speaking in verse, whose Mama is dying on Christmas Eve from a mystery disease that leaves her pretty except for her gnarly feet--show you heaven’s love?

As he thanked me and ran out
As fast as his feet would carry him, I’m sure, just in case you caught on to his con game.

I knew that God had sent that little boy Couldn’t God have worked a slightly more relevant miracle? What’s more important, a little boy being robbed of his mother and Christmas in one fell swoop, or for a bad singer/songwriter to learn the alleged meaning of Christmas?

To remind me just what Christmas is all about.Yeah, yeah, I could have written that line, knowing what came before. It’s like when there was a hurricane in Mexico that destroyed a church, killed almost everyone, but it was a "miracle" that a plaster statuette of Jesus survived intact. The miracle, apparently, that Jesus saved his own butt. And the singer of this song? I really don’t know. And neither does anybody else. It’s worth mentioning that the last chorus is sung by a children’s choir, and the last line delivered by a single boy’s warble: If Mama meets Jeeeesus. . .tonight. . . Which--for me--has the exact opposite reaction from its intent. Heartstrings not tugged. . .heartstrings disgusted.

The song is quite simply calculated to make you tear up, say "awwwww," and have a vague feeling that you should play it over and over again every year. The song is also ripe for parody, and I hope one day a talented writer  comes up with a song that simultaneously skewers this song, and outsells it. My good friend Rev. Stu' of Stupid Monkey Planet did write a parody song, but has unfortunately not reaped a fortune for his efforts. I'll be sharing that one again in later days.

And if Blood Ray is out there, please, please send me your original post! Please!

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