El Vez is dreaming of a “Brown Christmas.”
If you’re going to be in sunny San Diego for Christmas, here’s a playlist of local-centric holiday tunes.
The newest, “Please Santa,” was just released as a free download from Flaggs, a relatively new ensemble featuring Matthew Franco, Leslie Schultze (New Kinetics), and Lindsay Matheson (Nervous Wreckords), who sings “I promise to be a better girl” in between the sleigh-bell opening and the thundering punk finale. It was recorded last month at Earthling Studios, operated by Mike Kamoo (the Stereotypes). Also new is “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day,” the bonus track from Scott Samuels’s solo album The Fall, which features Samuels’s recording debut on ukulele, backed by his band the Vinyl Pirates.
Bosen & Suede recorded a track called “San Diego Christmas Song,” which Craig Suede says is “Just a little Christmas song I wrote about moving from Indiana to San Diego.” Though the duo sings, “I miss the snow, and how it used to document every step we took,” Suede replaced the “snow” with the “ocean” and “cement” in San Diego.
Jefferson Jay has “Christmas in San Diego,” wherein he sings “There’s little traffic, many have returned to parents’ home, but it’s fantastic, just some quiet time to gather and alone, on a Christmas in San Diego, in our California home.”
Neal Svalstad released a country-western swing tune, “Christmas Eve in San Diego,” with lyrics such as “I spent holidays in New York and L.A. and on the road from New Orleans to Chicago, ain’t no place I’d rather be enjoying Christmas eve than back at home in sunny San Diego.”
Candye Kane’s Christmas ditties? “Santa Is a Swinger Now” and “Let’s Put the X back in Christmas.”
There’s also a 1988 tune from the Jacks featuring the late Buddy Blue, covering Clarence Carter’s “Backdoor Santa”; Switchfoot’s “Another Christmas (Old Borego)”; Erika Davies’s 2011 track “All I Want Is Cash for Christmas”; and Rockola’s original tune “Just in Time for Christmas.” Candye Kane has “Santa Is a Swinger Now,” as well as “Let’s Put the X Back in Christmas,” a 1992 cut featuring Country Dick Montana (Beat Farmers) and Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Jason Mraz’s original “All I Want For Christmas Is Us” features local songstress Tristan Prettyman, and Mraz has also covered “Winter Wonderland.”
As for entire albums, Point Loma’s Kingston Trio released a Christmas-music collection in 1960 called The Last Month of the Year, while It’s Christmas Once Again In San Diego contains holiday music from movie-soundtrack composer Barry Devorzon, best known for “Nadia’s Theme.” Janusz Supernak, organist and cantor at San Diego’s Polish Catholic Mission, recorded a full-length called Christmas in San Diego, featuring seven newly composed songs along with several traditional carols sung in Poland for centuries (all but one of the tunes are sung in Polish).
Other full-lengths include Mojo Nixon’s 1992 Horny Holidays (with a “Mr. Grinch” cover and originals such as “It’s Christmas Time” and “We Three Kings,” which refers to another local-music icon with the line, “We were drunk for three days straight, feeling like we were Tom Waits”), El Vez’s 1994 album Merry Me X-Mas (featuring songs like “Brown Christmas” and a mashup of “Feliz Navidad” and PIL’s “Unlimited Supply”), and Scott West’s 2010 release California Christmas, recorded with Tesla members Brian Wheat and Frank Hannon at Tesla’s Sacramento studio.
And, of course, there’s always onetime part-time San Diegan Bing Crosby, the horse-racing enthusiast whose rendition of “White Christmas” remains the all-time most popular — and best-selling — Christmas song. Though it doesn’t come gift-wrapped, most online downloads of the tune run at least 95 cents.