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…”

Comments (9) Add New Comment
J E Jones
Paul McCartney ruined Christmas with "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time." Chris Rea ruined Christmas with "Driving Home for Christmas." Countless radio station ruined Christmas by playing John Lennon's "Merry Christmas, the War is Over" each year. Mariah Carey and several divas ruined Christmas by adding grace notes and vocal exercises to holiday favourites.

BTO, The Tractors and even Led Zeppelin changed a word or two to make neat novelty tunes out of their hits.

Lighten up.
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Rating: -2
Adrian Mack
"Lighten up?" You're cute.
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Martin Dunphy
There's no such thing as a "neat" novelty tune.
Except National Lampoon's "Deteriorata".

"You are a fluke of the universe/ You have no right to be here"
"And whether you can hear it or not/the universe/is laughing behind your back"

"Give up."
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Rating: +7
JLane
Christmas music can be gorgeous or annoying, uplifting or aggravating, depending on your mood, age, or general ability to go with the flow and just suck it up at this time of year. However I must point out that Josh Groban, he of the powerful and amazing, baritone, NEVER simpers.
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Rating: +9
mitchell kezin
Hey J.E, Jones ! YOU said it, not me: NOVELTY TUNES...I wld expect MORE from Randy Bachman, and if you're a true fan - which I suspect you are - you SHOULD too !

"BTO, The Tractors and even Led Zeppelin changed a word or two to make neat novelty tunes out of their hits"

Just sayin'...Lighten Up man !
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Rating: -6
cathy
Wow-"Randy Bachman ruined Christmas"?
Geez that's harsh.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all including Randy Bachman.
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Rating: -1
John Lucas
I actually liked that Josh Groban song from The Polar Express. I also liked the movie. But don't get Adrian started on the topic of Tom Hanks. Or Robert Zemeckis. Or Arlen Specter, probably, although I've never tested that one.
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Rating: -4
Mitchell Kezin
To be VERY clear: I very much appreciate Adrian Mack for taking the time to speak to me, and for writing his favourable review, but I NEVER said that Randy Bachman RUINED Christmas...what I said was that BTO recorded one of the worst Christmas songs ever...I find the tune, which essentially transposes unoriginal Xmassy lyrics OVER the identical musical composition of BTO's massive hot song: "Takin' Care of Business"...I have NO problem saying what I feel about the tune, because although I very much like BTO and I'm sure Mr. Bachman is a fine fellow, THIS recording is both cynical AND lazy, and its something that the band themselves had to have some responsibility for, since its not just the record label going: "OK, if we can sample Randy's VOCALS, then we can dub in these new lyrics and turn BTO's most revered song into a Christmas evergreen as well ! So, Mr. Bachman, if by some fluke you;re reading this, I'd LUV TO KNOw the real story behind the writing and recording of your song...cuz it makes NO SENSE to me whatsoever !
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Schlomo Schlapenstynski
All I know for sure is that I very much enjoyed this movie Jingle Bell Rocks because I collect Christmas vinyl like a crack whore turning tricks for some rock. Until I saw this movie I thought I was alone. God Bless You, Mr. Kezin! Mazeltov!
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Rating: +2
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