Three under the tree, Vol. 3

One of the advantages (or drawbacks) to being older than dirt is that you can be nostalgic about several decades.

And so it is tonight, as we fondly recall the early ’80s and bring you three from the early days of MTV, along with some YouTube links.

Believe it or not, there was a time when artists made Christmas videos and MTV played them at Christmas time, just as radio would play their Christmas singles at Christmas time.


“Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You,” Billy Squier, 1981, from “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas,” a 1994 compilation with some other good tunes on it. (We’ll be hearing more from it.)

Squier was one of the biggest stars on MTV at the time, so a Christmas single seemed logical. And who could forget these lyrics: “From grownup to minor/No one could be finer” and “From rooftop to chimney/From Harlem to Bimini.” I know of no other Christmas song with “Bimini” in the lyrics.

You can watch Squier lip-sync it with the MTV VJs and crew here. It’s a guilty pleasure, perhaps even corny, but it’s a good memory from that time. How many of those VJs can you name today?


“2000 Miles,” the Pretenders, from “Learning to Crawl,” 1983.

Talk about playing a guitar like ringing a bell, quietly, gracefully. A modern Christmas classic about a loved one gone at Christmas. That it came from an album with so many other great, straight-up rock songs — this was the flip side to “Middle of the Road” — makes it all the more remarkable.

Watch a live performance of it, complete with strings, here.


“Do They Know It’s Christmas,” Barenaked Ladies, from “Barenaked for the Holidays,” 2004.

I’m not at all a fan of this Canadian band — I found this posted online sometime this summer — but I’ve come to enjoy their fairly straightforward cover of the Band Aid tune from 1984.

Bob Geldof wrote the words, Midge Ure wrote the music and everyone who was anyone on the British music scene at the time sang it. The song, which benefited hunger relief in Ethiopia, was huge — a solid No. 1 in Britain and close to it in the States. (Likewise, Barenaked Ladies’ version benefits AIDS and HIV projects in Africa.)

See what all the fuss was about here. How many of those performers you can name today?

Enjoy. More to come.


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Filed under Christmas music, November 2007, Sounds

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