Gary Wilson releasing an album of original Christmas music? No standards? I’m there. I’m there all through the holiday season.
After a brief introduction that features cackling geese, Wilson’s distorted voice repeating “holiday” over and over, and warped synths, It’s Christmas Time with Gary Wilson brings “A Christmas Tree for Two.” Wilson sings about buying a silver Christmas tree for his love. “I don’t wanna cut down a Christmas tree. It makes me sad when it starts to bleed,” Wilson sings. Would you expect Gary Wilson to have anything but a swanky reflective tree with a spinning multi-colored light under it?
“I Saw Santa Dancing in the Dark” has Wilson singing about his eager return to his hometown (Endicott, NY) and taking his girl to the famous (to him and his fans) north side pool before a return home for drinks and dancing, but the mysterious Linda is “crying in the park.” Will Gary’s date go as planned? Here’s a hint: It rarely does.
As evidenced on “A Sled Ride Tonight,” in which Wilson’s been dumped during the Christmas season and all he wanted was to take his lady on a sled ride. It’s a song that would fit on any of his records, let alone a Christmas album. The chaotic synth instrumental “The Snow” is a perfect musical accompaniment to the hypnotizing, weird visuals you get when looking at blowing snow in the headlights of your car at 2am. “Holiday” is a jaunty tune in which Wilson tells his girl he’s going to introduce her to “the chromium clown.” It might be a bit creepy, but the song is nothing but bouncy lounge fun.
It wouldn’t be a Gary Wilson album without him singing about his lost loves, and “Cindy Wants to Cry” certainly qualifies. Don’t miss the nice saxophone work and quirky percussion while he sings, “Linda wants to cry, Karen wants to cry, Cindy wants to cry on Christmas.”
“Wintertime in Johnson City” has Wilson excited about yet another upcoming date, but he admits that Johnson City is “a town that has no pity” and knows that she might not show up. Meanwhile, “It’s Snowing in Endicott.” “Sounds so nice, so sad,” Wilson says at the beginning of the tune. The town is forever linked with Gary Wilson, as are its painful memories known only to him. He has his house and Christmas tree ready, doing his best to cut through the gray skies and loneliness. Maybe he’ll get his Christmas wish this year, but you doubt it.
Wilson’s girl doesn’t make it to his house because she’s “Lost in the Snow.” He can’t find her, yet again, but he never gives up hope. This never-ending optimism is one of the best things about Wilson’s music. There are themes of loss, loneliness, and bad luck, but he always gets up from the couch after another lonely night in Endicott. He never gives up hope of a fun Friday night with Linda, Karen, Cindy, or others.
There’s wonderful jazz lounge piano in “She Danced Near the Frozen Lake.” “Let’s take a walk into outer space,” Wilson sings on “A Date for New Year’s Eve.” I can’t imagine a better way to start 2017 than that. I don’t know what Wilson’s going to with the “pound of baking flour” he mentions buying in the song, but I’m sure it will end up everywhere. Check out one of his live shows and you’ll understand.
“Santa Claus Is Coming to My Lonely Town” keeps hope alive once more. Wilson’s met a new girl he kissed on the planet Mars. Is this after Santa Claus conquered the Martians? He’s brought Wilson’s wish list and it’s all walks in the park, kisses in outer space, beautiful snow, and every night being Friday night. It’s a wish list we’d all take and far better than more junk you’ll hate in four months.
The album closes with the instrumental “Lonely Holiday,” linking it back to the beginning of the record. The Christmas spirit, like Wilson’s perpetual optimism and search for love, should last all year.
Keep your mind open.
[Give yourself the gift of music news by subscribing to us.]