Dingus of the Week: The Little Drummer Boy
It's a controversial pick, but I am willing to die on this hill in this battle in the war on Christmas.
This is the weekly dingus, the Friday newsletter where I make fun of something or someone making our lives just a little bit worse. This past year, we’ve mocked Elon Musk, James Madison, Ticketmaster, the filibuster, and the constitution. It’s a holiday week, so we are talking about a dingus that is personal to me, but I imagine he’s hurt you too. It’s time to talk about “The Little Drummer Boy.” I realize it’s a controversial pick, but I will not be silent despite the pro-Drummer Boy mob. If you want to yell at me in the comments and tell me how much you love Joan Jett’s version of this song, well, you have to become a paying subscriber.
Of all the Christmas songs, the Little Dummer Boy has to be the most completely unlistenable. What it is is just an interminable couple of minutes of drumming and monotonous singing. And if the drumming wasn’t bad enough, the majority of the lyrics are “pa-rum pum pum pum”. They are literally singing the sound of a drum over the sound of the drum.
The result is a song so annoying that sticking pencils into your ear drums feels like a pleasant respite.
The premise of the song is that the wise men ask the little boy to come to see the newborn king. That a group of men would think it was appropriate to bring a drummer to visit a newborn, does check out. But the fact that a post-partum Mary who just gave birthin a barn, and is probably still stewing in placenta, would be like, “Oh year, know what I want to hear while I bleed out? Some kid beat a drum really loudly.” Does not cotton to any sort of reality I know. In fact, in a story about a virgin birth, it’s literally this part that is the most unbelievable.
It’s far easier for me to believe that a group of angels would hark and herald than it is to believe that a little boy with a drum showed up and Mary was like” wow, thanks.” Instead of, “get the hell out and don’t come back without a Tylenol and a change of clothes.”
The only other song that could possibly be worse is The 12 Days of Christmas, but at least that song, while repetitive and dull, is interesting. I wish someone would gift me 10 lords a leaping if you know what I mean. (Just kidding. 10 jumping men? A literal nightmare.)
Also, I would like to give a shout-out to the Christian music group King and Country, who redid “The Little Drummer Boy” and turned it into a holy nightmare of over-the-top vocals, nasally guy harmonies, and an ever-increasing hysteria of rhythm instruments, that culminates in an eternal infernal crescendo, ensuring that this song will haunt America’s churches into a new generation.
And my apologies to all my secular readers. Yes, I have been thinking about this a long time. Leave me alone. But this is my personal war on Christmas.
Interestingly enough, the song was written by Katherine Kennicott Davis, a prolific American composer, who also wrote the hymn “Let All Things Now Living.” She was born in 1892 and continued composing until her death in 1980. I apologize to the talented Katherine Davis, but she knows what she did. And it is with my deepest regrets, that I must declare her ghost to be my new enemy.
In any case, I think we can all agree that the greatest Christmas hymnis “Go Tell It On The Mountain.”
Yes, you can take the girl out of the Baptist churches, but you can’t take the Baptist churches out of the girl.
And Now For Something Good:
Every week, until the New Year, I’m sharing organizations doing good work in your communities. I will donate to them and I hope you will too. I’m pledging at least $50 to each organization as a way to give back to the places and people that mean a lot to you. And thank you for supporting me this year.
This week’s organization is Tapestry Farms in Dubuque. Tapestry is an urban farm system that employs refugees and distributes food via an income-based CSA.
At least two members of this community recommended Tapestry Farms. And I hope you can include them in your giving.
What I Am Reading:
Jordan Uhl wrote about Live Nation, Ticketmaster, and Taylor Swift.
This column by Moira Donegan about the shooting and the attacks on LGBTQ rights.
And Ben Collins forever on the moral weight of reporting on the massive amounts of hate speech in America. As a reminder, this newsletter is so firmly pro-trans people in every possible way.
A bold take on pumpkin pie from Geraldine DeRuiter is that you do not need to make it from scratch or ever. I have no strong feelings about this and will let you fight in the comments.
In 2020, Jasmine Guillory wrote about her grandma’s dressing. Read it again if you have to.
Alexandra Petri with the best Thanksgiving songs she absolutely didn’t make up. “Uncle John’s had three too many cocktails. And he insists that armageddon’s here!”
What I Am Drinking:
This week, I am drinking a very wonderful whiskey that I discovered at my booze store. It’s called Oak and Eden and I had the Bourbon & Spire. It’s so wonderful. It hits strong and then mellows into a sweet cinnamon taste. Perfect for sipping with your brother-in-law. I hope you all had a good holiday. And if it wasn’t a peaceful holiday, I hope that at least it brought the kind of drama you can email to the podcast Normal Gossip, so we can all enjoy it.
And now, for a non-holiday song to soothe your earholes.
The first person who well actuallys me about the timing of the gifts of the Magi and Jesus’ birth, to posit that Jesus was probably about two years old when they visited, will be immediately shunned. Also, your Evangelical upbringing is showing.
Christian hymn, obviously. The best secular hymn is Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”