Joe Scarborough—the musician, not the actor—is back and better than ever with his new EP, “I Don’t Want To Go Home For Christmas.” That’s a relative ranking and based more on destructive capability than music quality. We are discussing the musician and lyricist who brought us the classic protest tune that mostly avoided lyrics. It did have music, though, as does this latest release.
In fact, “I Don’t Want To Go Home For Christmas” features backing from the Independent Council of Funk, a band whose tongue-in-cheek bio is so tongue-in-cheek as to suggest they’re actually session musicians who write tunes you find on various websites that sell backing tracks for karaoke night. But when you listen to “I Don’t Want To Go Home For Christmas,” you’ll realize that’s an entirely accurate presupposition. To be fair, they’re not actually offering backing tracks for karaoke night, but, with a little effort, they could.
Against that backdrop, we get Joe being Joe, somewhat wistful and sad, not wanting to go home for Christmas, but not wanting an uptown, ball gown, Park Avenue Christmas with people who don’t dig him, either. No, he wants an uptown, ball gown, Park Avenue Christmas with the people who cheered him on when he was giving tons of free press to Donald Trump back when he was just a candidate who provided ratings.
That was then. A more recent then was the “burn” of calling Trump “Drumpf,” because his ancestors were immigrants who changed their family name or something. Never mind that, though, because Scarborough is determined to repeat history, mostly by forgetting it with “The Drumpf.” Drumpf may not have stuck, but that doesn’t stop Joe from rolling with it in the EP’s third track, the most important song on a four-song release.
Sure, it’s super-derivative of the theme song to “The Grinch,” but that’s the point, man. Remember that it features the Independent Council of Funk and that they’re offering solid derivative backing music while staying true to the spirit of De Gaulle. Forget that the lyrics are so close to the theme song to “The Grinch” that they may warrant a copyright infringement case, and that Trump isn’t Hitler.
We’re getting ahead of ourselves, though. Let’s back up and go in order, starting with the title track, “I Don’t Want To Go Home For Christmas.” As title suggests, Joe doesn’t want to go home for Christmas. He wants to hide. And he doesn’t want to wish us a Merry Christmas while he’s dying inside. Points for not successfully making the War on Christmas a real thing even if he’s really, really trying to make it a real thing?
In the second track, Joe, with more derivation from the Independent Council of Funk, also wants us to turn off our TVs and fears and enjoy Christmastime in a song with the bold title “Christmastime.” Why does he go with such a creative title and more music that would border on the edge of copyright infringement were it not perceptibly generic? The broken world is growing colder and he wants to heal us, to make Christmastime real, even if the strange trip we’ve been on won’t seem to end. That’s why.
Note: I’m paraphrasing Scarborough heavily. Also, I’m really starting to think my previous complaints about a lack of lyrics were completely backwards and that Scarborough should go instrumental if he’s insistent about continuing to inflict his music upon us.
That brings us back to “The Drumpf.” As I listen to the tune for the fifth or maybe the millionth time, I can’t shake the feeling that Christmas doesn’t come from an online store, even one selling digital downloads. Maybe it means a little bit more. And that more isn’t the theft of intellectual property and a mention of the Mooch because it fits the rhyme scheme.
From there, we hit the end—or is it the beginning?—with “This Christmas It’s You and Me,” a track in which Joe laments that he doesn’t want a fancy Christmas because this one is just for you and me. That’s fine if you’re Mika Brzezinski. Otherwise, you’re probably not the you in that you and me.
That’s not important right now. The important thing is that the song is joyful and has bells, other clichés, and backing music that sounds suspiciously like it was lifted from an Acura commercial.
If you have repeat turned on in Spotify, it’s at this point that the journey starts again with “I Don’t Want To Go Home For Christmas,” except this time it’s even less welcome than the first time it played. I do wonder what would play should you let the algorithm take over and start making suggestions. (Side note: I tried, but Spotify didn’t. It just stopped, which is probably the best argument for subscribing to the service ever.)
But if you hit play again, you’ll find Joe still doesn’t want to wish you a Merry Christmas. He’d like to, but he can’t. He lists lots of reasons, all plausible. He omits the real one. It may be Christmastime, but there’s no way to offer joy when listening to what he calls yuletide music, which is the realest War on Christmas ever.