Modern Rock Christmas: JD McPherson “Twinkle Little Christmas Lights”

JD McPherson on The Tonight Show
JD McPherson on The Tonight Show


Sometimes when you hear newly-written Christmas songs, you end up thinking, “man, they sure don’t make ’em like they used to.” But Broken Arrow, Oklahoma’s new favorite son JD McPherson is here to prove that wrong. See, this little white dude who sings like Little Richard DOES make ’em like they used to. And without any ironic, cooler-than-you sensibilities. Nope, this guy and his band (notably including bassist and musical director Jimmy Sutton) nail their vintage sound so well, you actually just feel like you’re listening to the greatest 1950’s album you’ve never heard.  One review of his record said it was “engineered to renew your faith in rock’n’roll” and that is dead-on.

And while you are busy having your faith renewed in rock’n’roll, why not multi-task and have it renewed in newly-penned Christmas songs. This one takes a little something old, a little something new, adds some warm feelings and some holiday cheer, and comes out of the oven with my favorite track of the season. Merry Christmas.


Thanks to Atlanta-based singer/songwriter Michael Hodgin for today’s guest post!

Modern Rock Christmas: Paul Westerberg “Away In A Manger”

Paul Westerberg Away IN A Manger

Ah, Paul Westerberg. The great Replacements frontman and solo songwriter has been cultivating a reclusive persona of late, only plugging in his guitar this year to put Hank Williams and Gordon Lightfoot covers on a tribute album for his ailing ex-bandmate Slim Dunlap.

But a few years ago, Paul put this little gem on a non-Holiday collection available via download only from Amazon, as he’s been doing with most of his material in recent memory. And what a gem it is. Leave it to PW to put his idiosyncratic spin (and a little Chuck Berry influence) on Christmas and come out the other side with an instant new classic. The Little Lord Jesus never rocked so hard.


Thanks to Atlanta-based singer/songwriter Michael Hodgin for today’s guest post!


Modern Rock Christmas: Run-DMC “Christmas in Hollis”

Die Hard

As we all know, Die Hard is one of the best Christmas movies ever made.  And as such, it features some perennial Holiday music favorites as well.  Of course, it closes with the timeless “Let It Snow,” sung by Vaughn Monroe, but this time we’re featuring limo driver Argyle’s favorite selection on the soundtrack, Run DMC’s “Christmas In Hollis.”  

I don’t think I ever actually saw this video back in 1987 but watching it now makes me long for the days when videos actually acted out the lyrics of the song.  “We better point to the Christmas tree when he says ‘Christmas tree.’”

Welcome to the party, pal. 



Thanks again to Atlanta-based singer/songwriter Michael Hodgin for today’s guest post!


Modern Rock Christmas: Bob Dylan “Must Be Santa Claus”


(Here’s another guest post from Atlanta-based Singer/Songwriter Michael Hodgin!)

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that you hate Christmas music.

You are wrong.

And my good friend Jack Monson is letting me steal a few posts on his blog this holiday season to prove it. See, I absolutely LOVE Christmas music. I love Christmas too. It’s my favorite time of year. I love the feelings and the sentiment, the shopping and the giving, and Love Actually and It’s a Wonderful Life. I love very special holiday episodes of sit-coms. I love emotionally manipulative holiday-themed commercials that are hellbent on making you cry by showing some college kid returning home from Africa to spend Christmas with his family.

As Andy Williams said, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

And what is more wonderful than the idea of Bob Dylan doing a Christmas album. I like to think about what all the booing hordes of British folky teens would shout out if Mr. Zimmerman walked on stage with The Band in 1965 and did “Here Comes Santa Claus.”

Anyway, back in the present, check out the glorious, raucous mess that Bob makes of the holidays in this video from his excellent X-mas album.


If Adventure Has A Name, It Must Be…IMAX? Blu-Ray?

Indiana Jones - Raiders Of The Lost Ark

Today’s Retro Media guest post is by Atlanta-Based Singer / Songwriter  Michael Hodgin.

This weekend, I traveled back in time. To 1981. An odd choice, you say? If you could pick any year to travel back in time to, would it really be 1981? It might not have been my first pick either, but as I sat in my local IMAX theatre watching Raiders of the Lost Ark on the giant screen, I felt like I was seeing it again for the first time.

And I have seen this movie many, many times. If you put a gun to my head and forced me to narrow down my top 20 most-loved movies, I would have no regrets about choosing Raiders as my number 1. I’ve even seen it on the big screen at least twice. The first time, when I was a kid in 1981, and a few years ago when it was showing for some reason at the Music Box in Chicago.

But it wasn’t like this. Seeing Indy punching out Nazis on an IMAX screen was seriously thrilling. The opening with Alfred Molina and the giant boulder. The fight in Marion’s bar. The Cairo market basket bit. And by the time it got to the legendary truck chase, forget it. I know it’s ridiculous but I was on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t sure if Indy was going to make it out of this one!

And it’s not just because Raiders is kind of a perfect film. It is kind of perfect because all the people involved were absolutely doing their best work. Spielberg at the helm in his heyday. John Williams serving up one of his most rousing scores. Lawrence Kasdan writing the script. And say what you will about George Lucas, having seen him through hindsight and the cracked rose-colored glasses of the Star Wars prequels and Crystal Skull, but back in the day, that guy sure could be counted on for a good idea.

Oh, and Harrison Ford is absolutely killing it in his signature role.

But no, the thing that makes you forget you’ve seen this movie a thousand times, the thing that makes you forget that you’re watching a movie, is not that it’s a great movie. It’s that you’re seeing it on the big screen.

Because that’s how movies were intended to be seen. That’s how the artists meant for you to see their artwork. Rothko on a postcard is not as meaningful as being sucked into a giant Rothko painting, your entire field of vision taken up by his unique red. Seeing a picture of a Rodin sculpture is not the same as seeing it in person. U2 is probably best observed in concert. In 1987. Or 1992. Or 2009.

And Raiders is best seen on the big screen.

We’re so used to cramming content and information into our heads these days, with quick mp3 downloads and DVD bonus features and streaming Netflix to our mobile devices, that it’s hard sometimes to be moved by art when it’s in these tiny and immediate versions. But when I saw Indiana Jones dragging under that Nazi truck, trying to save the Ark of the Covenant from the greatest evil of the 20th century, I was moved. I suddenly realized my muscles were tight, my eyes were wide, and I had forgotten everything around me, including personal problems and annoying movie patrons alike.

And that’s what art should do. It should move you. So, I am definitely a fan of this new marketing ploy where they bring back a classic movie in anticipation of its Blu Ray release. When it comes down to it, that’s all this was, I guess. Just a way to build excitement and hype over the release of all four Indy movies on Blu Ray. But that’s fine with me because it gets a classic movie back on the big screen and gives people a chance to see a work of art the way it was meant to be seen.

And since Blu Ray is the next best thing to the big screen (right now), that’s cool too. Give me all the Raiders on Blu Ray that I can handle. I’ll take every extra feature you’ve got. I realize that these big screen re-releases and bonus content bundles are just ways to make me spend my money on something I’ve already seen and probably already own on DVD. But I’m totally fine with that. For a fan, that’s nothing new and I’m happy to try to repay Spielberg, Lucas and Ford for all the enjoyment they’ve given me since 1981.

What I’m not fine with is that I have to buy the four-pack of movies. What I’m not fine with is sub-par product being bundled with great content. I have to buy Crystal Skull to get Raiders. That hurts. Even a big Indy fan like me can’t abide that. In the words of Indy himself, when the face-melting terror of the Ark is revealed at the end, “Don’t look at it, Marion!  Shut your eyes!” 

Because they’re probably going to make a fifth Indy movie anyway, so it’s not really “The Complete Collection,” now is it? Not cool. Just let me buy Raiders, huh?

But Casablanca in theatres for one night only, just before the big 70th anniversary Blu Ray box set comes out? Yes, please. And I saw a trailer before Raiders for Lawrence of Arabia, back in theatres, coming soon, coincidentally around the time it comes out on Blu Ray.

Count me in.

Indiana Jones - Raiders Of The Lost Ark