? DID YOU NOTICE what happened this year the day after Halloween? In the stores and on TV ads, everything went overnight from Halloween to Christmas. Just like that.
I reckon this is the quickest jump we’ve ever had, marketingwise, from spooks to snowflakes. The advertising powers-that-be steamrolled over Thanksgiving entirely. Thanksgiving may as well not exist. Maybe that’s because Thanksgiving is not an easily monetized holiday — it’s really, truly about nothing but food and family — so it seems to be not-so-gradually slipping under the commercial radar. How ironic: The most secular and specifically American holidays seem to be the least commercialized (see also: Fourth of July). That’s A-fucking-OK with me, ma’am. Let us have at least one or two holidays that are just holidays. Thank you.
It’s possible too that there is some Jungian subconscious need to extend snowflake season as we sink ever deeper into WWIII, global warming and the General Ruination. We have been told that the North Pole will soon become ocean — perhaps we can save Santa if we just do Christmas longer? Perhaps by 2020, Christmas will last half the year.
I’m all for saving Santa, and I must confess, I am champing at the bitto bust out my copy of A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector. (Darlene Love singing about the winter wonderland is just about as good as it gets, popwise. Ah, Darlene Love: so real, and so underappreciated!)
But right about now I’d like to seize the day, literally, and give a little bit of thanks. Specifically, for some local music that made me happy today.
1. “I AM BEAUTIFUL.” This precious new song, by L.A. soul/hip-hop artist Aloe Blacc, is just about the loveliest thing I’ve heard in forever and a half. I read that he wrote the song for his niece, and, yes, the lyrics are youngster-friendly. That’s why they’re good. They’re really what every little girl (or, sometimes, grown-up little girl) needs to hear, over and over. I just love ’em. They kind of read like a letter:
.?.?. Sometimes people may call you names .?.?. But as long as you know who you are and what you’re about, nothing they say can shake your pride and make you doubt the beauty you have in you. And when they give attitude, you can tell them like this. Say, “I’m beautiful, and I’m special, and I think it’s about time to tell you this: I’m gonna be the best me that I know how to be.”
One day you’ll learn how much it means to believe in yourself. So take these words and share these words to help somebody else.
The song is pretty Stevie Wonder, but in this case, it feels natural, unforced. (John Legend’s Wonderism makes my skin crawl at times.) And as clichéd as the lyrics might seem, Blacc delivers them with the ring of truth, and so they hit their mark.
So thanks, Aloe Blacc, for that gift today.
(And by the way, the rest of his whimsical new album, Shine Through [Stones Throw] is not at all goody-goody — and definitely not for immature audiences! )
Aloe Blacc hosts the sixth-anniversary party of Sound Lessons, Sat., Nov. 25, at the Echo, with J-Rocc and House Shoes.
2. THE OTHER SONGS that made me very happy today are by one Benji Hughes, a new Silver Lake resident who looks like a roadie for Lynyrd Skynyrd and makes music that is a cross between early Beck and Harry Nilsson, with maybe just a hint of Ween. He’s a poet. Not a fancy one — a human, funny one! “Why Do These Parties Always End the Same Way?” is a brutal yet comic depiction of the loneliness of alcoholic hipster house parties and hookups (“We need to call the cops/ somebody killed the DJ?.?.?.”); “Don’t Get the Mummy” is a stream-of-consciousness tale of trying to book a band (or movie monster) for the prom, watching a Pavement DVD and some other nonsense. (“I’m more alternative than Suicide Girls, I’ve got something in my pocket — Eagles tickets, front row! Joe Walsh, girl!?.?.?.”) He has a sensitive-balladeer side too seen on the evocative “Waiting for an Invitation,” which may or may not be about mortality (“Maybe I’ve been waiting too long, too long/For somebody to throw my kind of party/And I’m old, I’m too old??.?.?.”). Apparently, Hughes has been signed to New West records, so he’ll be coming out with an album eventually. I’m crossing my fingers he doesn’t go all serious/KCRW on us just because he’s making a record: The casual charm and easy pith of these demos are priceless. (You can find them at myspace.com/benjihughes.)
Thank you, Benji Hughes, for being weird and hooky as heck.
And Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Pig out.