It's the holiday season, which means Christmas music. Lots and lots or Christmas music, most of which was written before the people listening to it were even alive. While "Jingle Bells" and "We Three Kings" are great, and resilient, we're devoting this year to finding the best Christmas song written since 1989. We continue today with #15, and a song from the world's greatest imaginary Christmas special from the Magnetic Fields.
#15: The Magnetic Fields, "Everything Is One Big Christmas Tree" (2010)
Much like Rufus Wainwright's entry at #20, the songs of Stephin Merritt often sound like music originating from some alternate, but faintly recognizible, past. When I hear "Everything Is One Big Christmas Tree," it feels like I'm watching the world's great lost animated Christmas special. In my mind, it's a stop-motion film created by a group of German artists waiting out their nation's Cold War troubles in a city like Chicago or Milwaukee. There's lots of fake snow, and existential forest animals, and even a later musical interlude about the Space Race (which is hinted at in the song's German section). It's charming and ramshackle and earthy, which was the vibe Merritt was going for on the Fields' back-to-basics record Realism. It's also more than a little melancholy, asking its audience to forget their troubles, even the big ones, even for just a single day. Like all carols, the song from this imaginary film is a flickering pinprick of light in an otherwise dark season. I'd pay Merritt good money to write the rest of that soundtrack.