A rock nyc Christmas Playlist #8 – Perry Como “(There’s No Place Like) Home For the Holidays” Reviewed
I have lived in the USA since 1979 and so it is odd that I don’t find American traditions for Christmas all that moving, my Christmas is from my my earliest years in England. So I feel once removed from the songs I’ve been reviewing. This is an exception. In 2002 I was dating a woman (we lasted five years but are still close friends today), and we were drunk one mid-December and she sang the chorus for me, raising her voice on “million ways” -so adorable that when I eventually heard the poor man’s Andy Williams, Perry Como, version I didn’t like it as much. I asked her to sing it again and again and while she didn’t have a great voice, she had a way of pouring her happiness into the song that, always the music critic, made me want to write about her singing it.
It melted my heart and the inverse “It’s A Big Country” as Como does a “Plane, Trains, And Automobiles” and people across the States make their way home, had me yearning for something I didn’t much care about. The woman was a Christmas addict (a good Catholic girl, though somewhere during our years together she renounced her religion) and while she fought like hell with her mother, she was a daddy’s girl through and through and I don’t blame her. Her father was a Captain in the reserves (he got called up during the shock and awe Iraqi war), and she loved that part of it. Her mother overdid it during Christmas and the build up was as happy as I would ever find her, awaiting a serious spoiling.
The girl isn’t part of my past, I was the first person she called when she got engaged earlier this year, but in a deeper sense she is still part of my past and a home I would never go to again. So, the easy going swing of “(There’s No Place Like) Home For the Holidays” is tinged with loss for me. Como, a handsome, middle of the road popstar. A crooner, smooth sailor in the footsteps (but nowhere near the equal) of Bing Crosby, he was a harmless light entertainer with a television show and sales in the millions.
“(There’s No Place Like) Home For the Holidays” was recorded in November 1964 and the song dropped a month later ” Mitchell Ayres’ Orchestra and the Ray Charles Singers performed with Perry and there is something so gentle about the song, compare it to “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and it is clear that Como wants to make us feel great. “When you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze” expresses that moves us from Atlantic to Pacific, that returns us home.
Maybe it, much like Christmas, is essentially all a daydream, families aren’t necessarily happy (in the end, her family wasn’t happy at all), and every Christmas would end with her fighting with her family and fleeing to my place to eat frozen turkey dinners, drink vodka and cranberry, and wonder what home really is, after all. My tradition of home for the holidays. I’ve never cared about Christmas more.