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‘Jingle Bell Rocks!’ Looks at the Flip Side of Christmas Music
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Monday, December 21, 2020
 

PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

It’s billed as a trippy, cinematic sleighride into the strange and sublime universe of alternative and underground Christmas music.

And The Community Library will stream the 95-minute movie “Jingle Bell Rocks!” on Wednesday, Dec. 23, courtesy of Kanopy.

The 2013 documentary features interviews and music from The Flaming Lips, Clarence Carter, Miles Davis, The Free Design, John Waters, The Mighty Sparrow, A Girl Called Eddy, El Vez and more. It follows Christmas music junkie Mitchell Kezin as he unveils 12 of his most cherished alternative Christmas songs, such as “Green Chri$tma$,” “Santa Claus Was a Black Man” and “Merry Christmas Someone”—among the weirdest, wildest, most poignant Christmas songs you’ve likely never heard.

No roasting chestnuts with Nat King Cole here!

The songs are alternatively funny, sad, satirical and scathing as they explore racial inequality, religious freedom, nuclear war, family angst, conspicuous consumption and loneliness at the so-called “happiest time of the year.” And Kezin uncovers the stories behind those songs.

Kezin, who also has directed “Dissonance” and “Celluloid Souls,” said he first became enamored with not-so-familiar Christmas tunes when he heard the flip side of Nat King Cole’s “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” The melody, called “The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot,” was a somber song about a fatherless young boy who for some reason was passed by on Christmas Eve.

“The notion that Santa could forget anyone, let along a child like me was terrifying,” he wrote.

Kezin stumbled on Miles’ Davis’ “Blue Xmas (To Whom it may Concern)” as an adult. He listened to the lyrics talking about sidewalk Santy Clauses that are much, much too thin and people neglecting hungry homeless children as they address 20 zillion Christmas cards.

And its honesty set him on his journey uncovering track after track of “hip, heartfelt and irreverent music.”

The film was an Official Selection at the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival and DOC NYC.

To see the free streaming, visit https://livestream.com/comlib/jingle

 

 

 

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