So, this is Christmas…in Japan pt.2

After my dismal defeat two years ago, last year I tried another strategy. If I couldn’t get them to change the playlist on the strength of the songs I was suggesting, I thought maybe if I could somehow defame the songs or the artists that sang them then maybe they’d be a little more open to my recommendations. So, to this end, I used to walk around the school whistling and/or singing Christmas tunes like The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York and Prince’s Another Lonely Christmas (the long version). These are a couple of my favorites but I knew they were inappropriate for the kids. I threw on my best mask of cheer and good will towards men and waited for one of the English teachers to take the bait.

“What’s that you’re whistling?” Takahashi Sensei asked me last year while we were discussing the December lesson plans.

“Oh nothing…only one of the greatest Christmas songs ever made, that’s all.”

“Really? I don’t know it. Who sang it?”

“Prince and the Revolution.”

“Oh, I know Purple Rain. He’s great!”

Btw, I’m a die-hard sleep in the rain for tickets Prince fan so when I encounter these “He hasn’t really made anything good since Purple Rain” people my first instinct is to shove my I-Pod headphones into their ear drums and blast them with some Sign of the Times or Emancipation or any of a number of other hot albums he’s done since then that these Purple Rain fans missed. It seldom works, though. They’re a hard hearted lot usually.

But, I maintained a smile and said, “It was a B-side of a Purple Rain single.”

“A  B-side?”

Takahashi Sensei is all of 24. She wouldn’t know nothing about B-sides, cassette tapes…hell she might now even know what a Walkman is.

“Long story…anyway, it’s great.”

“What’s it about?”

“Well…” and this is where I start my maneuvering. “Ummm, well, it’s about a guy who misses his girlfriend who died on Christmas day.”

“Oh, that’s so sad…”

“Isn’t it? Every Christmas he drinks their favorite drink, banana daiquiris, and cries and wishes she were, um, next to him intimately and…”

“Eeeee…is it…sexual?”

“Well, a little. I mean, it’s Prince. You’re a Purple Rain fan…What do you expect?”

“I don’t think a…well one of those songs is appropriate…I mean…”

“Well, what do you think Last Christmas is about?”

“Eeeee….it’s about, ummm….Christmas, deshou?”

“Yeah, kinda…I mean, it’s about a guy who had a Christmas night one-night stand with his gay lover who doesn’t even remember him a year later.  I mean, if that’s appropriate, I don’t see why…”

“Are you sure?”

“Well, George Micheal is gay so he ain’t singing about no one-night stand with a woman, that’s for sure…”


“I understand, though. I mean, he is an artist- a great one at that-and a poet, to be sure, but come on,” I said, and then sang: “A man undercover but you tore me apart…not very subtle is he?”

Apparently I’d stumped her. Nevertheless, the result: she pretended the conversation never happened and continued to play the song and have the kids sing the lyrics. However, when ever the song reached the part when George Micheal talks about being undercover and being torn apart she’d glance at me and pout her cheeks.

I tried the same thing with Kawaguchi-sensei, who favored Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas is you. We sat down to the formality of discussing what song we should use, though we both knew she had already made up her mind 80%.

“How about Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song,” I suggested, going through the motions.

She screwed up her face into a mask of confusion.

“Nat-to Kin-gu Co-ru? Shirimasen.” (I don’t know him)

“He’s very famous, and it’s a very famous song, one of my favorites.”

“Uh huh…is it about…um…Cristo?

“Who? Jesus? No! It’s about … well, it’s not about anything really. It’s just a Christmas song about christmasy things…”

“Uh huh…”

I whipped out my I-Pod. “Here, take a listen,” I said handing her the headphones.

“Ah sooo! Shitteru, shitteru!” (I know it, I know it!)

“It’s very famous,” I reiterated and braced myself. I knew the routine.

“…But the students don’t know it, I bet.”

“Well, then they can learn something new. They might get a kick outta that.”

“Sou da ne…demo saaaa…( That’s true, but…) and she made a face of helplessness that pretty much sighed it’s out of my hands and signaled the end of the meeting, at lest for me it did.

I had planned to get into Mariah’s mental meltdown and purported drug use at the time but I’d felt petty suddenly and said fuck it and prepared myself for another season of Mariah’s high frequency ululations I think only dogs or pre-teen girls should be capable of accomplishing.

Yep, last year went by without change…and I was so distracted by the changes going on in my own country (Obama, Mr. Change himself) that I really didn’t even care so much.

This year, however, I came up with the master plan! And I wouldn’t have to talk about John Lennon’s acid use or anything like that…The answer was simplicity itself, and, like most of the answers to life’s puzzling questions, right in my face the whole time…

Loco (-:

to be continued…

PS: Mariah was awfully cute wasn’t she?

My co-worker didn’t recognize her and asked me if she was Japanese…hmmmm

PPS: Here’s the Pogues’s Fairy Tale of New York with the lyrics…


7 Responses to “So, this is Christmas…in Japan pt.2”

  1. December 22, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    “Nat-to Kin-gu Co-ru? Shirimasen.” (I don’t know him)
    Oh no no no no….
    I smell a Hulk Hogan clothes line followed by a bounce off the ring ropes finished with an atomic leg drop on her neck!!!

    My momz LOVED him!! Before there was Marvin Gaye, Barry White, Al Green, Bill Withers or other deep throated crooners there was Nat to help get a lady in the mood for some loving. I know it’s a Christmas post but everytime I hear Nat King coles voice I imagine how many kids were conceived with him in the background? For my mom it was probably Marvin but it coulda been Nat? She really did like him 🙂

  2. December 23, 2009 at 4:14 am

    Excellent – someone else knows the Prince Christmas song! I’ve got the og 7″ 45 on lavender vinyl, and as you stated – Another Lonely Christmas is the B side.

    Isn’t crazy that young people don’t know that the “B” side refers to? You can date yourself too by using the “E Ticket Ride” metaphor too.

    Waiting for the next installment…

  3. 3 Eddie
    December 25, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    I have to catch up with reading the blog but in the meantime Merry Christmas!!!

  4. 4 Cedric Domani
    December 26, 2009 at 9:51 am

    What about “Christmas in Hollis” by RUN DMC?….sorry for all the rap references….lol
    Great read, and Merry Christmas and best wishes to you and yours.

  5. 5 Moogiechan
    December 26, 2009 at 11:20 am

    I am SO lucky I got to pick Christmas songs. I even got “Mary, Did You Know?” in. Things like “Jingle Bells” were the most popular, but I didn’t have to play any Mariah Cary, John Lennon or Bruce Springsteen.

    I used to play songs I liked and gave the kids the lyrics with 5-10 words blocked out as a listening exercise — they had to write in the missing words. It was always surprising to see which songs the teacher or students liked or didn’t like. Oddly, “Godzilla” by Blue Oyster Cult was a great hit with one of the teachers…

    Hope you had a great Christmas! I can’t wait to read how this turns out!

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