Without further ado, it’s over to Jim for his eggnog flavoured but definitely not cheesy “Xmas song for ewe”…
“I’m a massive fan of the Xmas song and obviously being a Midlander love that golden year of 1973 when Slade and Wizzard released the two classic Christmas songs in one year! But for this year I thought what better song than Johnny Dowd with “Christmas Is Just Another Day.”
Johnny Dowd is a prolific twisted Americana songwriter from Ithaca NY. His albums veer from straight country to weird funk and residents style weirdness. His main lyrical obsessions are the usual country subjects divorce, booze and Jesus but also at least one song an album about his dislike for Christmas. (See also his mangling of Jingle Bells!) This song hits the nail on the head for Christmas haters in the way it can just remind you of missing loved ones, in this case his mum. Merry Christmas!”
It’s hard to believe that Dowd has 20 albums under his belt, not including his contributions to many others, including my personal favorite: a one-of-a kind revisionist/reimagination tribute to Townes Van Zandt, There’s a Hole in Heaven Where Some Sin Slips Through. I was fortunate to catch Dowd twice in July, where he played songs from his 21st album, Execute American Folklore. I have described him before as William S. Burroughs with a guitar, with a pre/post punk mentality, mixed with alt-country. Live, he’s a tightrope walker. But on record, the firebrand is controlled, smooth to the emotional touch as he glides — first on high, then back down to a semblance of Earth.
Dowd’s half-spoken, half-sung lyrics are like poetry set against more of an electronic backdrop that some of his other work, with a groove, a definite groove. You can also dance to it. A nice example is the segue from “Sexual Revolution” (“You’re either part of the problem or part of the pollution” with an under layer of a tortured “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” Wynette-style). That moves into the electronica of “Mr. Muggles,” punctuated with horns and the operatic vocal of Anna Coogan, where Coogan plays Klaus Nomi to Dowd’s Bowie. Then again into “Rumba in the Park” with a Caribbean, rockabilly feel with a distant fuzzy guitar where you have found yourself in a Jim Jarmusch movie. I don’t think Dowd has ever been more literate than on this album, with his vocals distinctly mixed so you can bask into the Beat-like delivery and imagery. (Dowd is also included in ND’s fall issue, “Speak Up!”)