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.
On this date (12.22) in 2002, we lost the legendary Joe Strummer of The Clash. Four days earlier, I lost my grandfather, Thurman Berry (my Mom’s Dad) to cancer. And, by this same date in 2002, we had also sadly lost half of the original members of The Ramones (Joey in April 2001 and Dee Dee in June 2002).
This isn’t meant to be a sad post. On the contrary – for Xmas 1987 (15 years prior to Xmas 2002), The Ramones (with a song written by Joey Ramone) obliged the folks at Sire / Warner Bros. (for the promotional holiday album, YULESVILLE), and put together the Rockin’ holiday gem for Day 28 of THE 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS – “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight).”
According to liner notes of the YULESVILLE album, when the powers that be at Sire / Warner Bros. told Joey Ramone about the project, “he rushed home, wrote ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)’ and sent it to us posthaste. We had barely finished conceptualizing this package, when lo and behold, we received another version souped up with more guitars (!!!), and more Ramone-type singers.” The band also provided a hilarious Xmas ID for the album.
“Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)” was released as the B-side (or double-A-side) of the U.K. single for their song, “I Wanna Live” (from their tenth studio album, 1987’s HALFWAY TO SANITY). “Merry Christmas” would find its way onto the next Ramones studio album, 1989’s BRAIN DRAIN. There was even a U.K. single remix of the song that ended up on the sweet 1995 Rhino holiday compilation, PUNK ROCK XMAS.
I can’t say for sure if Joe Strummer liked “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight),” but I would bet my record collection that he did. I can DEFINITELY say for sure that my Grampy Berry would NOT have liked it. Truth be told, I don’t ever remember the WWII veteran and longtime fisherman listening to any music, but I think, like my Mom, maybe Country & Western was his music of choice. Although, it’d be pretty cool to see him jamming to The Ramones. I sure do miss all of you swell guys…
You know, with spirited lyrics like, “I loved you from the start / ‘Cause Christmas ain’t the time for breaking each other’s heart,” how can you go wrong?! I heard “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)” in the grocery store one holiday season not too long ago, I paused to happily listen and I remember feeling, “All is right with the world.” Let’s hope it stays that way…