Personal Christmas Soundtrack

25 Dec

The Song

Xmas Curtain by My Morning Jacket


A holiday offering from My Morning Jacket?  Well, it’s not entirely clear what the titular Christmas curtain is all about.  But “Xmas Curtain” is a Christmas song in my book, if only so that I can have an excuse every year to spike the standard holiday song rotation with a little flavor from the Jacket.  If you’re going to do Christmas with MMJ, then you’re going to do it on their terms, and “Xmas Curtain” is a tuneful example.  The song is a big, rambling mixture of big drums, bubbling guitar hooks, slide guitar, and oh yeah, steel drums.  The singular talent of Jim James and the rest of the band pull all of these seemingly disparate elements together into a satisfying song that sounds totally unique, in the way that only a reggae-tinged country-rock jam session can.  And those steel drums?  Not superfluous at all.  Like Lebowski’s rug, they tie everything together, and sound pretty fucking cool.

The Activity

You’re at a family party on Christmas Eve, and Uncle Jimbo, your ponytailed uncle who works on the road crew for Dave Matthews, has just polished off his eighth whiskey of the night.  He just went outside to “check on the dog” and came back in high as a kite and carrying his favorite acoustic guitar.  He proceeds to kick off his Tom’s, sit down next to the Christmas tree, and unleash a jam session that doesn’t have a predetermined set list, or ending point.  The holiday spirits (and grass) seem to have gotten the creative juices flowing for Uncle Jimbo, and he’s putting out some catchy riffs on Christmas classics, with a peaceful grin spread wide across his bearded face.  At some point, a couple of the other uncles finish their beverages and saunter over, sitting down around Jimbo in a rough circle.  One of them begins to drum his thighs in a jerky rhythm, and another adds an angelic backing voice to Jimbo’s croon.  You’ve probably gone out to ‘check on the dog’ as well while everyone’s attention was on Jimbo, and when you return you sit and enjoy a rendition of “Santa’s Coming to Town, Man”.  The fire’s going, the nog is flowing, and all is good as Jimbo starts up “Xmas Curtain.”


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