Randy Bachman ruins Christmas
If you think that Christmas music is a pop culture ghetto full of plasticky shite like Josh Groban simpering his way through yet another version of “Silent Night”, Mitchell Kezin will change your mind.
The local filmmaker has been collecting seasonal records since he was a teen in the ‘80s, and he puts this seemingly pointless obsession to great use in the film Jingle Bell Rocks!, examining the (surprisingly touching) roots of his own collector’s mentality while introducing us to a dozen or so personal favourites like the Free Design’s “Close Your Mouth (It’s Christmas)” and Bob Dorough and Miles Davis’s fabulously cynical “Blue Xmas (To Whom it May Concern)”.
By the time it's over, and with help from interviewees like David Wisdom, John Waters, and Joseph "Run DMC" Simmons, you'll share Kezin's enthusiasm.
To commemorate the two screenings of Jingle Bell Rocks! in Vancouver next week—it comes to the Vancity Theatre on Monday (December 16) and the Rio Theatre the night after—we got Kezin on the phone to talk about any local obscurities he might like to share with us.
“Two things come to mind,” he says, calling the Straight after a long day of record hunting in Toronto (with Vinyl filmmaker Alan Zweig, no less).
“One is, I’d say, one of the worst Canadian Christmas songs ever recorded, ‘Taking Care of Christmas’. All [Randy Bachman] did was transpose ‘Taking Care of Business’ with ‘Christmas’. He literally phoned it in, and it’s the most embarrassing, the most cynical, the harshest… just awful, awful, awful. I just don’t understand. Why would you be so lazy? Why wouldn’t you try to do something original? You’re denigrating your own classic song, first of all, and you’re doing a disservice to Christmas music. What is the point?”
Happily, Kezin’s second choice is a lot better. “By my buddy Roy Forbes,” he says, “who wrote a nice little ditty in the folk-country vein called ‘Mincemeat Tart’, and it’s a lovely little tune. And clever.”
Even more happily, we asked Nardwuar the Human Serviette to come up with a couple of local seasonal titles from his vast memory banks, and—true to form— he managed to blow even Kezin’s mind. “I Want a Beatle (for Christmas)” by Pat Surbey and the Canadian V.I.P.S. was already on the filmmaker’s radar, but how about Slow covering Elvis’s “Santa Claus Is Back in Town”, from a 1985 flexi-disc issued by a young Zulu Records?
“Wow, really? What a guy—nice!" says an impressed Kezin. "Oh man, I have to have this…”