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 #16, and the story of how Santa flaunts municipal building codes from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings.
#16: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, "Ain't No Chimneys in the Projects" (2009)
We return for some more Santa talk today, with a question that's confounded generations of parents: what do you say when your children start asking for the hard truths about Santa Claus? You could tell them the truth after a little hemming and hawing, which is what my mom did. You could trick them with an elaborate story of crash-landed sleighs and oddly-dressed Bavarians, like the dad from the This American Life story. Or, you could just lie a little longer, buy another year of innocence, and wait for your kid to figure out the real loving figure responsible for all those gifts.
That's the strategy found in this great tune by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, which originally dropped as a holiday 7" in 2009. The song's style and subject matter immediately bring to mind James Brown's classic "Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto," but as NPR's Marc Silver points out, "Jones' saga is all about the strength and resourcefulness of African-American women." It's a sweet message, and an underappreciated one, but thanks to Jones' massive talents, it's one that will be heard and celebrated for many Christmases to come.