Tag Archives: yuletunes eclectic

Yulemixed Messages: And now, Side B of my 2019 yulemix, still entitled “Let’s Talk About Christmas!”

Comprising fifty (50) more minutes of buoyant-if-occasionally-baffling yuletunes to obfuscate and illuminate your holiday season. It’s all so fresh, and I have so many other deadlines that’ve languished unmet while I’ve been making this, that I can’t think of one doggone thing to say about it. Just press Play.

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Yulemixed Messages: Announcing Side A of my 2019 yulemix, Let’s Talk About Christmas!

It’s quarter ‘til eight p.m. Eastern on Thanksgiving Day, so let’s talk turkey: The first side of the fourteenth mighty installment in my indefatigable Yuletunes Eclectic & Inexplicable series is now available to provide a seasonal, tuneful, treacle-free, and generally baffling soundtrack to your Record Store Day cratedigging and any attendant treetrimming and/or halldecking. I believe this is the earliest in the season I’ve ever dropped one of these, and I expect you, the listener, to give your own merrymaking operations a commensurate boost.

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The Great Work Concludes: Side D of Blue Wave Christmas Hath Dropped

Here’s a rainy New Year’s Eve bonus for you, merrymakers: Side D of Blue Wave Christmas, the yule-mitzvah edition of my longstanding Yuletunes Eclectic & Inexplicable series, has arrived, marking the conclusion of the most ambitious mixtape I’ve yet made. It’s long on merriment, long on obscurity, and long on length. That’s why I had to serve it to you incrementally. With this vestigal-tail chapter, some of the familiar voices from prior iterations have returned after mostly keeping mum so far this year. There are by my reckoning at least seven days of Christmas remaining, so I’ll leave you to it. You can find all four sides on this page. I wish for all of us a better 2019.

B-Boys & B-Sides: Presenting (the first quarter of) my Lucky 13th Yulemix, Blue Wave Christmas

Have mercy! This is just getting ridiculous now. For the lucky thirteenth iteration of my Yuletunes Eclectic and Inexplicable series, I thought that instead of releasing it in two indefensibly long parts, as had been my habit since I stopped burning and printing physical CDs of this thing—a nice bauble to thrust into some unsuspecting person’s hand, but expensive—I thought I would do a sort of podcast limited series of four episodes, released weekly, counting down to the Feast of Christmas. Because four is more than two—one hundred percent more, from a numerical perspective. And I believe in always giving one hundred percent, Christmaswise. 

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Yule Complete Me: Presenting (the second half of) My 12th Annual Christmas Mixtape, Noel Means Noel

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As usual, there were some painful cuts right at the end. I just had to get “Mistress for Christmas” on, even though I used it in (I think) 2011, to honor Malcolm Young of AC/DC. And “Every Day Is Christmas (When I’m Lovin’ You),” even though I used it in 2012, to honor Charles Bradley. That unconscionable folk song about a ski instructor whose notion of consent is such that you hope he perished in an avalanche, but not before being forced to eat his own arm while waiting in vain to be rescued, will just have to wait until the lucky 13th installment. I thought it important to keep each side to no more than, well, an hour.
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Yulemixed Messages: Presenting (the first half of) My 12th Annual Christmas Mixtape, Noel Means Noel

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I started making these goofy holiday-themed mixtapes in 2006, inspired by the yule-mixologist Andy Cirzan‘s annual appearances on the great WBEZ radio show and podcast Sound Opinions. I was honored to interview Andy for a Washington Post piece about my mixtape several years later, and to appear with him on a Minnesota Public Radio segment that I’m glad to tell you did not involve Garrison Keillor in any way.

So I’ve been collecting and compiling weird old Christmas-themed recordings for a long time now, but I didn’t buy a turntable until the latter part of 2016. I’d refused to even entertain the possibility of joining the vinyl resurgence, because I knew my discipline would crumble and I’d feel compelled to drain my banking account re-buying dozens of my favorite albums in the most expensive, space-consuming, fragile, and heavy music-distribution format ever conceived, with the possible exception of the wax cylinder. Which is exactly what happened. I have four working turntables in my apartment at this moment. Four. If I had any reasonable estimate of how many LPs there are, I would be too embarrassed to share that number with you.
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Yulemix 2016, The Christmas Hack, has already breached your unsecured server. Submit and make merry.

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Good news! I’ve overcome my profound Electoral Affective Disorder to assemble yet another mood-elevating, hall-decking, merry-making Christmas mixtape. This one—my eleventh, for all you completists—kicks off with Charley Pride, one of only three African-American artists in history to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, and it only gets funkier and more festive from there. Continue reading

Presenting my 2014 yulemix, The Yule Analog, compiled with respect and affection for you, the listener.

2014-frontOoooooh, 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, 20102011, 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.)

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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. Continue reading

Musical Advent Calendar: Children, Go Where I Send Thee! Yuletunes Eclectic & Inexplicable Hard Eight: The Desolation of Nog, 2013

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We’re going in a radically different direction with today’s Musical Advent Calendar selection, debuting the cover of a Christmas record yet to come.

That would be the eighth in my unstoppable series of holiday mixtapesChildren, Go Where I Send Thee! Yuletunes Eclectic & Inexplicable Hard Eight: The Desolation of Nog. My only goal was to staunch the 2009-2012 trend of these things getting longer each year — last year’s installment weighed in at a truly obnoxious 130 minutes, only two minutes shorter than the classic holiday movie Die Hard. Which is not to say I wasn’t proud of the goddamned thing. I was.

Anyway, that grand ambition of brevity flowered only, uh, briefly. When it drops in a week or so, my new yulemix will be another feature-length epic to comfort and amuse you through your car trips, your long layovers, and your interminable sleepless nights of loathing and regret. I think you’ll really dig it. Merry Christmas!

On the radio with Andy Cirzan!

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On Friday I had the honor of doing 35 minutes of live radio with Andy Cirzan, the great archeologist of obscure holiday records who provided much of the inspiration for my own Yule-Tunes Eclectic and Inexplicable series. (I interviewed Andy a month ago for an essay about my mixtape project that ran in the Washington Post just after Thanksgiving.)

Anyway, Minnesota Public Radio’s The Daily Circuit invited us both on to talk about our mixtapes and recommend some yulejams that haven’t been played to death. I was afraid no one would be in the mood for this silliness when I realized our segment would follow an hour of reaction to the NRA’s spectacularly tone-deaf press conference about the Newton, Conn. school shootings, which the station had carried live a little over an hour before we went on. But I thought the segment turned out well. I had a great time.

You can listen to the whole segment here.  Should it happen to pique your curiosity, my 2009-2012 yulemixes are on the upper periphery of your frame of vision, on the Musics of Christmas page of this site. You can grab Andy’s 2012 mixtape, Santa Soul, from Sound Opinions.

Happy holidays, everybody!

Yulemix 2012, Drop’d! It’s time to Stay Hungry to Feed the World

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I don’t have a Christmas tree in my apartment yet. My friends haven’t seen me in weeks. My editors are all ready to fire me. I’ve been avoiding mirrors, but I assume I look like Ted Kaczynski.

It’s all for a noble cause: Every November & early December I fall into a four-to-six week time warp attempting to create the funniest and most reverent, most entertaining and most beguiling Christmas mixtape possible. (You may have read the essay I wrote about this project recently in the Washington Post. If you haven’t, please do.)

It is my great pleasure to unveil now for your hall-decking enjoyment entry No. 007 in my  Yuletunes Eclectic & Inexplicable series. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the future of Christmas merry-making enforcement, Stay Hungry to Feed the World.  In keeping with the perpetually inflating ethos of this project, it’s the longest one yet. When it comes to Christmas, less is less. And more? Is just the most. (Hear the mix after the jump.) Continue reading

Andy Cirzan sent me his yulemix!

Cirzan-2012-front-coverI’m so honored and excited I’m sweating. Yes, it’s 70 degrees and muggy here in DC this December 4th, but it isn’t the climate that has me — svichting? Swatching? Whatever. It’s the fact that Andy Cirzan, my yulemix-making senpai, sent me his 2012 Christmas mix CD.

When it comes to holiday mixtapes, I am a mere padawan to Cirzan’s wizened Jedi master, dispensing ancient wisdom via oddly structured sentences he splashes around the swamps of Degobah. (He’s from Chicago, actually.) As you may recall if you happened to read my recent Washington Post essay about my yulemix, the seventh installment of which shall drop forthwith, Cirzan has been issuing compilations of obscure and often inexplicable seasonal gems for more than 20 years. Continue reading

Twelve Songs of Christmas

I was asked to provide a sidebar for my Washington Post essay (in today’s Sunday Style insert, with Helen Mirren on the cover, which actually came out Friday) about making my annual yulemix. We didn’t have room for my brief rationales for choosing the Twelve Songs of Christmas that I did, so I’m posting it here. Bow your heads and tremble before Twelve Songs of Christmas!

(Not the twelve songs, as if there could be such a thing. Merely a dozen yule-sides that ring my Christmas bell, presented chronologically.)

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What Justice Stewart Said About Christmas

My essay about making my Christmas mixtape is in the Style section of today’s Washington Post, the pullout section with Helen Mirren on the cover. I was surprised how difficult I found it to write about this silly little project that’s come to claim so many tens hundreds of hours of my time and moxie every fall. Continue reading

And Now for Something Slightly, If Not Completely, Different, but Also Slightly Longer: HARK HARK, DECK DECK: Yule-Tunes Eclectic & Inexplicable Team VI – The NOW SOUND of Christmas [Side B]

Side B. Merry Christmas!

You can find both sides of Hark Hark, Deck Deck: Yule-Tunes Eclectic & Inexplicable Team VI: The NOW SOUND of Christmas here.

Presenting HARK HARK, DECK DECK: Yule-Tunes Eclectic & Inexplicable Team VI – The NOW SOUND of Christmas [Side A]

Yippe kai yay, Christmas lovers! My sixth annual audio Christmas card has arrived to illuminate and/or obfuscate your yule! At two hour-long sides, the first of which you can hear right now, this is the longest yulemix ever. Remember those 120-minute blank cassettes introduced in the twilight of the analog era that allowed you to record more music at lesser quality and were highly prone to breakage? Continue reading

Ghosts of Christmas Past: From 2009, That Means Christmas to Some People

I’ve been making and giving away bizarro holiday mixtapes in lieu of greeting cards since 2006. I spend a lot, a crazy amount of time assembling and editing these — with October almost half gone, it’s nearly time for me to get started on this year’s edition already. The truth is I’m more delighted by these than I’ve ever been by any piece of my own writing.

I wanted to have the good ones available on my site, so here’s 2009’s entry, That Means Christmas to Some People — Yule-Tunes Eclectic and Inexplicable IV: The Quest for Peace. Continue reading