brent johnson has an early gift for everyone: ‘Father Christmas’ by The Kinks …
Leave it to Ray Davies to write a Christmas song that’s also social commentary.
In 1977, Davies and his band The Kinks unleashed piece of hard-edged holiday rock about a department-store Santa … who gets mugged by a gang of children. They don’t want toys, they tell him. They want his money instead.
You won’t find ‘Father Christmas’ playing on many mainstream radio stations this time of year. It might sound evil next to ‘Silent Night.’
But for all its snarling guitars and punk attitude, the song is more touching that it seems. Davies, viewed as the patron saint of songwriting in his native Britain, often wrote about the sad inequalities between social classes. And after they snatch Kris Kringle’s purse, we learn that these children live in poverty. To them, jigsaw puzzles and teddy bears are useless. ‘But give my daddy a job, ’cause he needs one,’ Davies sings to Santa. ‘He’s got lots of mouths to feed.’
Whether that justifies a yuletide mugging is debatable. But it’s a twisted take on something easy to forget this time of year: That not everyone is fortunate enough to find gift-wrapped treasure under a tree.
It’s also a great rock song from one of the great rock bands of all time.