Hillbilly Highway – Holiday Jukebox Party Time

by Sheldon Birnie

Well, it’s holiday time here in Canada, and that means Christmas themed albums are being churned out by the Music Machine as though they are going out of style. Most, obviously, are stomach churning affairs in & of themselves. Having said that, I do have a small corner of my irregular heart for these shameless displays of shysterism in its purest form, and own more than one.

The Christmas album, or at the least Christmas song, is nothing new to those who travel the Hillbilly Highway, for a living or purely to see the sights. Jukeboxes are full of them, this time of year. As a child, I heard Emmylou’s Light of the Stable almost as much as Boney M’s Christmas Album, which is saying something, because that sucker was on repeat November through February from as far back as I can remember. Lonestar’s This Christmas Time was added to our family spinner later, but I was out on the Highway on my own the next summer, so I was spared the fate of my siblings in regard to that platter.

These days I’ve got my own copy of Emmylou’s classic, as well as some holiday gold from Charley Pride, on regular turntable rotation – and the Chipmunk’s 1981 Xmas LP to boot. Bob Dylan put out just about the best darn Christmas LP of all time a couple years back, and I’ve still never been to a holiday piss up as wild as the one in his video, though a couple Kustom Kulture parties have come close.

While all these releases are just fine and dandy, I’m never heartbroken when it’s time to stuff them back into the stacks come New Years’. However, there is one Christmas country classic that I can stomach any old time. It’s just about the best damn holiday tear jerker that I know of, and I challenge any of you to find otherwise — Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December.” Res Ipsa Loquitar.

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