Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesday Tune: "Black Christmas" by Poly Styrene

Not all Yuletides are gingerbread and tinsel-haired angels.  Sometimes Santas go on shooting sprees.

I love a wholesome, heart-tickling Christmas carol as much as the next guy, but there's something about Poly Styrene's anti-Xmas anthem that gets to me, too.  "Black Christmas" was one of the last songs she released before her death in April of this year.  She had breast cancer which had spread to her lungs and spine.

Born Marianne Elliot-Said in 1957, Poly Styrene was, according to the New York Times, "the pioneering, braces-wearing frontwoman of the 1970s British band X-Ray Spex" who "made a place for feminine brashness in punk."  She was best known for her early hit "Oh Bondage Up Yours!" but was making a comeback with a new album Generation Indigo which was released just weeks before her death.

I'm dreaming of a black, black Christmas
Black smoke blows against a midnight sky

"Black Christmas" is about as bitter as they come.  Written by Poly Styrene and her daughter Celeste (who also appears in the video), it was a reaction against the horrific shooting spree in 2008 by a man dressed in a Santa suit.  "Oh no, we're not merry, no..."

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