I wish it was Christmas

The original clip is slightly hard to miss—four men dressed in matching sweaters, singing and playing a little ditty about Christmas. It was on Saturday Night Live in the 90s. The actors were Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz, Tracy Morgan, and Chris Kattan. The song was titled “I Wish It Was Christmas Today.” You sorta can’t miss it anymore during the season, what with the themed holiday recaps of SNL. I think they even dropped it in the late spring once, just out of the blue. It was strange and silly and it worked.

In 2009 four days before Christmas I saw a clip from Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night show. I find Fallon funny. I enjoy his energy and his humor. So when I heard that the sketch was “a holiday message from Late Night I sorta knew where it was going. At least I thought I did.

There was Horatio Sanz, sans a hundred pounds, singing the song with Fallon in matching red sweaters. It was a nice update. Then the something happened. The camera panned to the right and there was the lead singer of The Strokes, Julian Casablancas, singing the song! A few things happened next.

  1. I remembered how GREAT the Strokes debut was and how much I hated it when I first got it.
  2. I fell head over heels in love with the song and its energy, particularly near the end when Fallon and Sanz joined Casablancas to finish the track.

The song and the performance really summed something up for me, it really encapsulated a feeling, a feeling of the joy and ebullience of the Christmas season. The sounds of the end of the song match the looks on the faces of Fallon, Sanz, and Casablancas. They’re having fun. They’re laughing. They’re happy. The joy and energy on their faces, in the music, it is the sound of youth, the sound of the happiness and excitement present in the holiday season when you are a child. I can’t tell you how often I listened to the version from the show over the next four days.

I kept coming back to the emotions, the happiness in the sounds and in the look (download the MP3 from the show, it is much more alive than the studio version: you hear the crowd, you hear The Roots, and you hear those smiles and the energy they bring) from the show. You almost have to see the clip to really have it burn into your brain. When Sanz and Fallon are sharing the mic with Casablancas and the way they are into the music, the moment and the performance are great. They way they ape Casblancas’ singing style is also super great. But you have to SEE the looks on their faces as their excitement in the performance really made me think of the excitement and energy that you have as a child in the lead up to Christmas and in the ultimate arrival of the day itself.

I remember the magic of going to bed and then waking up, stone cold awake in bed at 4am on Christmas morning. Creeping downstairs and flipping on the light switch that always triggered the tree lights. Where there were empty spaces in the morning now were full of gifts, And then you just had to wait for your parents to wake up so you could tear the wrapping off the boxes. The anticipation grew until one of your parents finally felt the energy in the house and go up to oversee the scrum. It was great, it was one of the best moments of the year.

I hear those emotions in the song, in the performance from the show with the whole band and with the principal writers of the song. You feel that excitement and it brings you back to being a kid, to those feeling and smiles. It is happiness in song form. I cannot listen to the song without breaking into a smile, and when by chance the song pops up in my iTunes throughout the year it conjures the same emotions. Rather than flip right through the track I stop and listen to it. And goddamn if I don’t get excited for Christmas in doing so.

6 Responses to “I wish it was Christmas”
  1. Gavin Craig says:

    I love how ?uestlove is doing the Jimmy Fallon/Chris Kattan head turn while he’s drumming. :-)

  2. ana says:

    i love this song! goes along with chipmunks xmas song, i want a hippopotamus for xmas, etc. quirky silly fun.

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