Saturday, December 16, 2023

In Prison (2)

This is the second post with Christmas prison songs (part 1 HERE). The best known songs, John Prine's Christmas in Prison, The Youngsters' Christmas in Jail and Paul Kelly's How To Make Gravy are in part 1, so let's have a roll call for the more obscure and notorious locals:

Let's kick off with a few Dutch artists. Frederique Spigt is one of Holland's finest blues singers (she can sing anything really, but there's always a bluesy feel). This sounds like a cover, but is an original from her 2014 album Medicine Show:
Talk about blues singers, André Hazes is still (he passed away in 2004) one of Holland's biggest levenslied-zangers. Levenslied translates as 'song of life'; it's a mix of schmaltz and storytelling blues. His first hit from 1976 was called 'Eenzame Kerst' (Lonely Christmas), a story about a man who stole for his family, only to be locked up in jail and his wife sleeping with another man. This one's up there with country weepers like 'Faith in Santa' and 'Christmas Shoes':
There are several covers of this track, the best are this reggae-version by Jah6 (a play on Hazes, 'six' is zes in Dutch) and this acapella version by Meisjes met de Wijsjes.

From Belgium, and a local hero there, is Eddy Wally, who also knew a thing or two about schmaltz. If you think he looks a little like Liberace, you're on the right track. 1977's 'Kerstmis in de Gevangenis' (Christmas in jail) is a super sentimental song calling for empathy on that one prisoner, crying on Christmas Eve in his cell. It was written by Dutch schmaltz king Johnny Hoes, who did his own version too.
Let's leave the schmaltz a bit. Jonathan Coulton and Long Winters-singer John Roderick recorded a great Christmas album in 2012 with funny/serious countryfied songs, including this one:
There is very little info on this band, The Williams, who released a Christmas EP in 2020, with this punking stormer:
New York ska-band The Toasters released this highly danceable original on the 1996 Merry Christma-ska compilation, featuring mostly covers:

Not obscure, but not very well known either. It's Marvin singing: 'Cause I’m a prisoner of war / Lying here in my cell / Hoping my family is well / Wish they wouldn’t worry so much about me / Just try to get us home / In time for the Christmas tree':

Missed any really good ones? Drop in the comments below.