One for Friday: Neko Case, “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis”

Sometime during my first pass through college radio, the onslaught of tribute albums began. There may have been some genuine affection for certain performers that inspired such efforts or at least colored the performances by the acts recruited to fill out the grooves. The real driving force, though, was the dead certainty that the most direct way to a college deejay’s heart was with one of their ragamuffin rotation staples playing a really familiar song, likely from an artist they secretly loved but has no entry to their ultra-hip airwaves. This how we got, say, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones covering Kiss and Indigo Girls plying their harmonies on “Uncle John’s Band.” There were plenty of instances when this parade of contrived covers became tiresome, but there were almost always gems to be found.

This is where, by tradition, I lapse into some sort of Scrooge-like grousing about the prevalence of cloying Christmas songs this time of year, hitting like a barrage any time I walk into a public place with an overhead P.A. at their disposal. And then I explain, with equal disgruntled language, how the track I share today represents “one of the only Christmas songs I can tolerate,” or some such thing. Keeping that to a (meta-tinged) minimum, I’ll instead get to the link as quickly as I can. It’s Neko Case covering one of Tom Waits’s great story-songs. More than most weeks, the track should speak for itself.

Listen or download –> Neko Case, “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis”

(Disclaimer: It is my belief that this track appears only on New Coat of Paint, a tribute album featuring Tom Waits songs, that was first released in 2000. It is also my belief that this album is out of print as a physical object that can be procured from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a manner that will provide due compensation to the artists, the songwriter, and the proprietor of said store. There are loads of records by Tom Waits or Neko Case that should be purchased from those shops, perhaps this weekend as a Christmas gift. I would be very happy if Santa put a vinyl copy of Middle Cyclone under my tree, for example. Begging complete, I should note that I will gladly remove this track from the internet if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)

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