Dec 12

I’m too much

Someone at my place of employment decided it would be delightful to install satellite radio boxes in all the bathrooms. (All the women’s bathrooms, anyway — I can’t speak for the gents.) This frankly has bothered me from day one, when I escaped to the bathroom after a really extrovert-friendly first day of orientation and was bombarded with very very loud country music.

For whatever reason, the radio in the bathroom nearest my desk had been silent for months. No one wanted to figure out how to make it work. But someone has finally learned how to use it. Someone who likes mellow, easy-listening Christmas music. The bathroom has lost its feeling of respite and now I hurry up and get the hell out of there before I have to hear Justin Bieber or something. (Actually I don’t know who most of these musicians are. Not Bruce Springsteen or John Lennon, although I did hear Paul McCartney yesterday.) It is worse than the years I worked in The Domain and they played Mariah Carey holiday tunes outdoors. At least one could hide in the building.

(I realize now that all I have to do is to compare my current office bathrooms to the ones near my office in the Flawn Academic Center at UT, and everything is coming up roses. A bathroom heavily used by undergraduates is not a pretty sight. But I digress.)

I ducked into the office bathroom this afternoon for the usual reasons, and I found myself actually enjoying the background music. It was a cover of the “Heat Miser/Cold Miser” song from the 70s TV special The Year Without a Santa Claus, very familiar to those of a certain age and upbringing. I bet some of you could sing it. I bet some of you are singing it right now that I’ve mentioned it.

This was a lively cover, R&B-ish, not too goofy, the singer getting a little Tom Waits-y during the Cold Miser bit, but mostly letting the lyrics be the silly part. I looked at the satellite radio console to figure out who was performing it, but the console claimed the song was “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” I think that would come as a surprise to Bach.

So after dinner tonight, I started researching. We live in such a wonderful age, where you can go to Amazon or iTunes and type in “heat miser” and get a long list of covers of this song, listen to samples, and buy what you like right then and there. I prefer Amazon over iTunes because I like the MP3 format, and the site had 15 or so versions of “Heat Miser and Snow Miser” (there seems to be no standard title for the tunes), not counting the karaoke versions, of which there are about a half-dozen. I admit this would be a helluva karaoke selection with the right crowd.

Of course, first and foremost, you can buy the original rendition from the TV show. But you can also find rockabilly, big-band-ish, grunge, punk, hip hop, and reggae-beat-with-female-vocalist versions of the song. Some feature only the Heat Miser or Cold Miser half, some hit both. Artists covering the song include Bag of Donuts, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, The Badlees, Deizal Nuncia, and Lushy. (But not the Asylum Street Spankers, surprisingly.) I hadn’t heard of most of these musicians/bands either because my musical taste is stuck somewhere in KGSR circa 1998.

I couldn’t find what I thought was an exact match, although the samples I heard weren’t from the same part of the song I heard in the bathroom, so it was difficult to tell. My money is on Rich Chambers, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, or Ernie Haase & Signature Sound. I may buy all three and see which one I like best. I’m tempted to get some of the other ones just for fun. I figure even if I go crazy and splurge on all the ones I like, it’ll still be under $10.

I recommend going to Amazon or iTunes or wherever you go and having a good listen. If you find a good cover elsewhere, let me know.

And perhaps I should figure out if I can hook an MP3 player into the satellite radio speakers, and subject my female coworkers to ten different versions of the “Heat Miser and Cold Miser” song, all day long. That’ll teach them to figure out how the damn thing works in the first place.

One Comment

  1. LB says:

    Reminds me of the time I bought a bunch of “White Christmas’ tracks off Rhapsody and made FFP a CD of just that. Rather than driving him crazy, he liked it.