There's an old Steve Martin joke where the comedian promises the secret of how to have a million dollars and never paying taxes: "OK, first thing you do is get a million dollars. Then ..."
And so it goes with the whole MP3 phenomenon. Sure, you can download an unlimited number of songs for free (for now), but after you pay for the computer, the higher Internet connection (unless you have a couple of days to download one song) and whatever MP3 listening devices or software you desire, your new music collection is hardly cheap.
Of course, if you have all of that gear — er, and a CD burner — the Internet can become your one-stop shopping haven. Download the tunes you want to give your loved ones and burn 'em onto a CD. Just don't tell the recording industry.
We perused a few of the bigger download sites to help you along with culling together the perfect Xmas-appropriate disc for your holiday fun.
· "Santa Went Hi Tek" by the jaunty Holiday Salmon. Sample line: "Santa Claus decided it was time for a change, he got himself a hi-tech sleigh/It had the digital bells and it was jet propelled/He put the reindeer out to pasture to stay." OK, so Grandpa might get a kick out of it.
· "The Elves' Christmas Night" by Carl-Jonas Wernoff. An apparent Swedish Xmas classic given a New Age Disco send-up. "I made it to a Christmas-performance-competition of my class," the artist says on his site. "Of course we won." Of course you did.
· "Love" by the spiritually searching Santa or Satan. Nothing to do with Christmas really, but the band name will look cool on the disc.
Listen.com provides track previews and links to download sites (including MP3.com), but it can sometimes be a tad harder to find freebies. But, again, the thankless unsigned bands are pretty generous.
Listen.com is probably the biggest source we found: Put "Christmas" in the search engine, and more than 1,900 titles pop up.
· "Chipmunk Song" by the Del Rubio Triplets. These real-life senior triplets enjoyed some popularity in more recent years with their straight-faced, uh, "challenging" covers of everyone from Devo to The Beatles. Listen.com links you to a site that contains their entire discography, including the Xmas album Jingle Bells. This cut is perhaps the strangest thing you'll ever hear, and the rest of their stuff blissfully follows suit.
· "Santa Eats the Elves" by Mr. Bungle-like sonic pranksters The Advanced Liturgists. Sample line: "When the toys are built, Santa'll beam/He'll crack the whip and watch them scream/Little elves taste great with sweet and sour/But Santa's got a fave, it's beer batter and flour." Best Christmas song about cannibalism ever.
· "Santa Worship" by Philly Acid Jazzsters Pattern 51. Again, not really Xmas related song-wise, but the title's enough. Nothing says "I love you" like a bad pun.
Napster.com lets you download the controversial music-sharing software for free, though many say that might not last long after Napster's recent merger with Bertelsmann, owners of the mammoth BMG music company. So grab what you can now. There's tons to choose from and, as copyright restrictions are still lax, you'll likely find the bigger names (Elvis, Como, Cartman) you're looking for.
· "Fuck Christmas" by Fear (or a cover by Bad Religion, your choice). A cheeky little whirlwind for those Grinches needing some commiserating.
· "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" by the Coca-Cola singers. Helps you remember what Christmas is really all about: commerce. A true modern classic.
· "Xmas Song" by Korn. This truly scary retelling of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" sounds as bad as most Korn, and the "singer" tells of seeing "a fat little red faggot, hanging from a tree" (presumably Mr. Claus). What a bunch of idiots. Your little brother might like it.
· "Spice Girls Got Run Over by a Reindeer" by some wacky "Morning Zoo" guys, no doubt from New York's Z100. It's not, per se, funny, but your zany cousin Jim Bob will be rolling in laughter and will likely give you one of those wicked singing plastic carp things next year. ©