Ooooooh, D’Angelo just returned from exile with a surprise album dropped online in the back half of December! Big deal; I too do situps, sometimes, and I too have released a surprise December album. It’s my ninth surprise album in nine consecutive Decembers. Kindly react with due awe.
One thing remains as apparent as ever: I am obsessed with old shit. The Yule Analog – Vol. 9 in my apparently unkillable Yuletunes Eclectic & Inexplicable series, subtitled Cowboy Santa Claus – is imbued with the music and radio and pop culture of the 1940s through the 1970s. The last song I chose – a song I loved the first time I heard it on KCRW in 2001 and then forgot about for years until I heard John Hodgman play it at Aimee Mann’s Christmas show at The Birchmere last night – is just barely from the current century. My mixtape makes a few reluctant sops to the present day, but only a few. I am The Ghost of Christmas Long, Long Past.
Particularly the 1960s. I’ve made a mixtape every Christmas since 2006, the year James Brown, of James Brown’s Funky Christmas fame, hit it and quit it forever on Christmas day. The 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 editions all remain available for your streaming, hall-decking, merry-making pleasure. (Vols. 1-3, are all, I’m relieved afraid, out of print.) I know I say this every year, but I really tried hard to keep this one tighter than the last several so that each half would fit on one side of a Maxell XL II High Bias 100-minute cassette. If your computer does not have a tape deck but you would still like to have your own play-anywhere copy, just ask me.
I miss handing out physical copies with artwork and all, but burning and printing CDs was getting awfully pricey, and I didn’t finish early enough even to contemplate it this year. Maybe I’ll release the physical version a month from now. Like U2. Maybe my yulemix is already on your iPhone.
As always, I tip my hat to the great Andy Cirzan for stirring my interest in “holiday obscura” with his annual appearances on the great WBEZ radio show and podcast Sound Opinions. You can download Andy’s 2014 mixtape Kringle’s Jingles here; two of the tracks I included this year – Magnus T. Cook’s “Snow Bunny” on Side A and Larry Cartel’s “Lonesome Cowboy Santa” on Side B – I’ve cribbed from Cirzan mixtapes.
I interviewed Andy for this 2012 Washington Post essay about my annual yulemix project. You can also read my Slate piece from last year that ponders why it’s been a generation since we admitted a new song into the classic yule-pop canon.
Finally, I’d like to thank the generous sponsors who made this compilation possible: