Happy Holidays! Since it’s the first year of my blog, and since it’s the last year for my Annual Holiday Show on my little 20-year-old 80s radio program, STUCK IN THE 80s (on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine), I wanted to present to you THE 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS, or, 31 of my favorite 80s holiday musical treats.
For Day 22 of THE 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS, it’s a holiday gem from 1989 called “Talking Christmas Goodwill Blues,” an original Xmas song by Wesley Stace – a recording artist who picked up his stage name, John Wesley Harding, from the 1967 Bob Dylan album of the same name.
“Talking Christmas Goodwill Blues” is from John’s debut release on Sire / Reprise Records, GOD MADE ME DO IT – THE CHRISTMAS EP, a five-track EP which also features an interview with John (or, “A Cosy Promotional Chat,” as it’s referred to on the EP), the title song from his 1990 full-length Sire / Reprise debut, HERE COMES THE GROOM, and an amazing acoustic cover of Madonna’s “Like A Prayer.”
The song starts about how the song came about: “Well, I flew to LA for the very first time / I met [President of Reprise Records] Howie Klein and [Sire Records co-founder] Seymour Stein / They said ‘Wes, we do this Christmas thing / And we get all the acts to sing’ / I said: ‘What do you want? / You want a cover of ‘Winter Wonderland’ or something?’ / They said ‘Do what you like’ / So this is called ‘Talking Christmas Goodwill Blues’…”
Something I’ve always loved about John Wesley Harding (who is now performing under his real name, Wesley Stace) is his smart, honest lyrics and his inability to bullshit.
“…spare a thought when you give the gifts / For the people doing Christmas shifts / Because Christmas is a time for giving / Like lifetime is a time for living…”
“Well they say that money’s taking over / And no one wants a cheap legover or pullover / They say that when any bell rings / One of God’s children gets his wings [ping!] / Talking of wings, there’s a sign in LAX / That says ‘495 shopping days till the Christmas after this one!’ / Buy now, cry later…”
“John Wesley Harding’s the name and this is the groove / He was never known to make a foolish move / Watch out for the record when it hits the shelves / Happy Christmas / Enjoy your elves!”
I saw the CD version of the EP for the first time about 16 years ago, and just had to have it, and haven’t seen it anywhere since, so I suppose it’s a good thing I picked it up. “Talking Christmas Goodwill Blues” is one of the reasons I’ve loved bringing my annual 80s Xmas shows to the Portland, Maine airwaves and beyond, mainly because I don’t immediately know of any other station that would play such a non-traditional holiday treasure, and I’m more than happy to oblige…
“That’s all folks!”