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Music

Revisiting when the Ramones created a Christmas song

@TylerGolsen

Christmas songs written by Jewish artists are a proud tradition throughout pop culture. Classic yuletide songs like ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’, ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’, and ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ were penned by Jewish songwriter Johnny Marks, while tunes like ‘Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!’ and ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ were also written by writers of Semitic background. Evidently, you didn’t need to be a Christian to get a great Christmas song out to the world.

You can add Joey Ramone to that list of impressive songwriters. Ramone was raised in a Jewish family but found an early appreciation for the Christmas season, both in culture and in music. An ardent fan of Phil Spector records, Ramone no doubt poured over A Christmas Gift for You and took major inspiration from girl groups like The Ronettes and The Crystals who filled out its tracklisting.

When he eventually started making music himself, Ramone managed to slip in a reference to the classic snow-filled Christmas season in the lyrics of ‘Danny Says’. But eventually, he and his fellow Ramones decided to dispense with the subtleties and just make their own full-fledged Christmas tune with ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)’.

In a subversion of the typical love and cheer that surround the holidays, ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)’ is a breakup sound juxtaposing the happiness of the Xmas season with the cold realities of a relationship on its last legs. The lyrics don’t even have to be about romantic relationships: the working relationship of The Ramones was at a low point during the recording of the song and its parent album Brain Drain, leading to the departure of Dee Dee Ramone at the end of the sessions.

Perhaps because of the song’s less-common coverage of the Christmas season, or maybe because there aren’t a ton of punk rock Christmas songs to begin with, ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)’ wound up becoming a holiday season classic for those who became tired of the same-old Bing Crosby songs. If your yuletide is a little dourer this year, then maybe ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)’ will make its way onto your Xmas playlist.

Check out the video for ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)’ down below.