‘Twas the night before cyber-Christmas and not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse pad. In these Internet days, it’s easy to imagine all those ”Dear Santa” letters arriving by E-mail. We decided to assist Claus in sorting through some of his last-minute postings and tune him (and you) in to a few ideas for the music-obsessive in your life. Call it North America Online.
Subject: My Hooligan Grandson
Dear Santa: My little Petey is coming to visit for the holidays. His hair’s as long as a girl’s, and he wears black T-shirts that need mending. What should I get him to keep him occupied while he’s hanging out in the basement with his friends, playing with that cute little incense lamp they pass around in a circle?
Reply To: GrandmaSterflash
Dear Granny: Ho, ho — how nice of young Petey to visit his grandmother during Christmas! For advice, I asked one of my elves, Slush, who spends his off-months in a band called Sleigher. He recommends Van Halen’s Best of Volume I, a 17-track compilation of this protean hard-rock band’s odes to good cheer and good parties, from ”Jump” (Rudolph’s favorite) to hits from the Hagar era. If there’s a TV in that basement of yours, Slush also suggests the Beavis and Butt-head ”TV Talker”. Just place this eight-inch plastic replica of the cartoon ne’er-do-wells (and their couch) on top of your set. Whenever you change channels, your remote activates a sound chip, and you’ll hear the boys spout lines like ”What the hell is this crap?” Ho, ho, ho! (I said ”ho.”)
From: Tiny Jim
Subject: My Mommy and Daddy
Dear Santa: In the car, Mommy and Daddy keep switching my Raffi tapes for the Time-Life Sounds of the Seventies series. If I have to listen to ”Brandy” one more time, I might ”accidentally” stick my peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich in the tape deck! What other classic-rock stuff can I get them for Christmas?
Reply To: Tiny Jim
Don’t be cruel, Tiny Jim. For Dad, pick up Elvis: The Ultimate Album Cover Book. Its 160 pages are crammed with jolly reproductions of the King’s LP and singles covers from around the world, such as Rubias Contra Pelirrojas (the Argentinian Frankie and Johnny soundtrack) and the Turkish single for ”Don’t Cry Daddy” (with a tacky cover painting of a sobbing Elvis). Although he can’t put it in the tape deck, Dad will have even more fun learning the various translations of the name ”Elvis.”
If Mom is always begging for diamonds, give her In My Lifetime, the three-disc Neil Diamond box set. From ”Cherry Cherry” to ”Heartlight,” this collection (the first to span Diamond’s entire career and include the original recordings from several record companies) will make Mom’s car trips a true memory-lane drive. If you’re not so taken with songs sung blue, Jimmy, you should ask me for a Walkman.