Wednesday, 15 February 2012

And the fourth late Christmas gift to you . . .

First, an apology for the belatedness of this. I had a (rare) computer malfunction. The text of all these sleevenotes somehow just spontaneously reverted to a far earlier version. There weren't even the subsequent saved versions in my Time Machine back-up. I lost a lot of writing. Forever. I cried. Well, almost. Then I sat down and wrote it again. Who know, it might be better, it might be worse. No way of telling.

4 On The Rooftop Gentleman Auction House

The band is from St Louis - the setting for the seasonal song which, I'm told, is fast overtaking White Christmas in popularity, Hugh Martin and Hal Blane's Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas which was premiered, by Judy Garland, in her future husband Vincente Minnelli's 1944 musical Meet Me In St Louis.

There seem to be quite a lot of them in Gentleman Auction House - two drummers, I think. There were once seven of them and then there were six. There is a guitarist and singer, Eric Enger, who looks like he’s probably the leader. There’s a woman with blonde hair, Kiley Lewis, who, onstage, does that funny skippy dance thing that women who can’t dance do. I think she might be the singer’s girlfriend — or perhaps might have been. That’s not just idle speculation. I think it might have relevance to this track.

They say they made the name up by putting three words together so it sounded like some kind of fictional organisation. They were voted the best indie band in St Louis 2009. Among the nice things said about them was this, well, gem: ‘rhythmically robust and unconventionally ecstatic pop music reminiscent of a more composed Architecture in Helsinki’. Eeery Sarinnen perhaps.

This track comes a from their 2008 seasonal EP Christmas In Love, which also includes their version of Here Comes Santa Claus. Their record company press release described it as ‘emotive melodies and kitchen sink instrumentation with a gloriously dynamic take on a classic holiday tradition’

As far as I can tell, the band haven’t done much since. There hasn’t been a posting on their blog for nearly two years. Another record has been promised several times but it’s never arrived.

The song is stranger than it seems. On first hearing — tenth, even — it’s a paen to Christmas monogamy:
   ‘All the reindeer rocking on the rooftop.
    I'm sitting  by the tree.
    I’m hanging with my boyfriend/girlfriend.’

Then you notice something else, half-buried in the mix. It seems that Santa — yes, that Santa, the one married to Mrs Claus — is still doing his deliveries in a town down the road. And he’s taken the time to call the singers’ household. He wants to talk to the girlfriend. So Santa is after a little side action. So the boyfriend — while hanging by the tree, as the reindeers are rocking on the rooftop — is happy to pass the message on.

No matter how many times I listen to it, though, I can’t figure out what happens next. What is clear to me is that not only is this not the first time Santa has called but that he wouldn’t be calling again if he didn’t expect to have his expectations fulfilled.

So what’s going on here? Is it an open relationship or a seasonal sharing? A boy, a girl, a fat old bloke with a beard and a red hat.

Next time I write to Santa, remind me to ask him.

Tomorrow Santa polka is coming to town