Tuesday, March 20, 2007

JohnsCDs 2002-2332-035(42) - An American Postal Worker's Christmas

This was the last of three comps Martin Johns sent me that he crafted in the year 2002 - the first being "Hepcat Holiday" posted yesterday afternoon, the second being "Solid Gold Christmas V2" posted this morning.

This comp salutes the American postal worker who from January to October handles about 40% of their total annual output. This leaves just November and December (two months) to do the remaining 60% - staggering!

I have seen the despair in their eyes around Christmas - especially when I roll up with a microwave box full of packages in all different sizes and shapes that all must be weighed individually.

However, I always remember the experience one postal worker in Northville, Michigan gave me during the Christmas season of 1999.

He never complained once, was asking about the contents of each (chocolate birth announcements for my first child Alex and a Christmas comp), and sat with me for almost one hour weighing out each of the 137 packages that went out that year.

He ended up with a CD and a candy bar and remains on my annual Christmas comp list. He still works with the post office and they have occasionally played my comp to the waiting people in line (thanks Kevin!).

I asked Martin for a special insight about all of his comps that he sent me. We feature it in a place we like to call...


I worked for many years at a USPS Processing and Distribution Center on the overnight shift (Tour 1). In a plant, Tour 1 is where all the action is. No matter how much mail comes in, no matter when it comes in, it all has to go out that morning.

For all the public jokes and occasional scorn, I was always amazed at the dedication of my Tour 1 co-workers. When the job needed to get done, they got it done. The closer it got to dispatch, the harder everyone worked. You would keel over in disbelief if you saw just how much mail has to be processed in a single night. There was tremendous pressure. The overall atmosphere of this unique existence was nothing short of total insanity.

I really wanted to capture the full range of Tour 1's frenetic insanity. And, when I saw a record of old Postal Service Christmas PSAs on eBay, I knew what must be done.

As a general rule, postal workers don't shoot people (statistically, supermarket workers are far more likely to snap in this way, as are stock brokers, dentists, and a host of other groups), but we did joke about it a lot (remember... insanity).

Thus Track 4 (from Portland, OR's Z-100) makes this CD for me - I laugh every time.


(Click on image to enlarge)

1.) An opening greeting from the Postmaster General! How dignified! This greeting sends me best wishes for the holidays and tells me that Martin's album of post office PSAs is different from my two post office PSA albums!
2.) Non-threatening, good version by Mr. Setzer and his orchestra. Man with the bag... post office... heh!
3.) Excellent beach music Christmas song by one of its finest practitioners - General Johnson & The Chairmen Of The Board.
4.) "Yes, the stressed out employees of the U.S. Post Office are carrying more than a loaded gun this Christmas... it's their brand new album!" Add in some funny reworkings of Christmas tunes & guns... you get the idea!
5.) Appropriate follow-up to the last tune! Captain Sensible and The Damned are still playing together - nice to know they haven't killed each other...yet. Easily found on Rhino's "Punk Rock Xmas".
6.) This Pat Godwin clip comes from his 1996 "Reindeer Games" CD. Despite the fact it was recorded on an old cassette player with a tinny sounding Casio accompanying him (nice touches), it's mildly amusing.
7.) From their first (and best) Christmas album (recently re-released!). The Christmas Jug Band are always a delight - this is a reworking of the perennial hit "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter".
8.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! Maybe the best version of "'Zat You, Santa Claus?" I've ever heard! Holly Cole gives this a sultry jazz twist that blows away any and all versions of this! I've added her "Baby It's Cold Outside" CD to my wish list!
9.) SWEET! If it's anything in the surf / guitar / Ventures / instrumental vein, I am THERE! If you don't already own the Los Straitjackets' 2002 Christmas CD "Tis The Season"... why?
10.) Awesome blues track from the Texas Eastside Kings! Find this on Dialtone's "Blue Christmas" comp.
11.) Great cover first heard on the 1996 "Christmas In Heaven" comp. Easily accessible via the 1999 "Happy Christmas V2" comp.
12.) Quiet, calm track from Grey Eye Glances... tranquil even. Bet moments like this are few and far between at the post office at Christmas!
13.) "... but in post offices across the land, there is feverish activity..." Guess that PSA answered my question above!
14.) In his own clever way, Ben Folds sings about Santa getting stuck in the chimney. "Maybe This Christmas" I'll have the courage to play this one... Don't count on it.
15.) This jazz version of "Joy To The World" employs radar... if it gets too close to the melody, it waves it off! Fascinating "Christmas Jam" by Chris Ho. If this is what the post office sounds like at Christmas, I'd go for my gun as well...
16.) WOW! Phenomenal blues track by Lefty Dizz! This is the title track from his 1979 LP - which I don't think was a full Christmas album. Was this released on CD?
17.) DANGER WILL ROBINSON! Sexually stimulating Christmas song courtesy of Sarah Taylor & Bill Mumy.
18.) Quick, hilarious 25 second send up of "The First Noel" from harmonica virtuoso Rocky Zharp. Off his 1997 Christmas album entitled "Christmas Songs (You May Not Want Your Kids To Hear)"
19.) Cleverly takes the Village People's "Macho Man" and "Y.M.C.A." and melds them into one long disco Christmas smash!
20.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! A dance mix of "Do You Hear What I Hear?" Just what the old song needed! First issued on an import called "Bravo Dance X-Mas" in 1994, it was reissued on a 2-CD import - "Best of Christmas Pop" - not a bad lineup of music!
21.) A post office as a Santa's workshop? Ummm... Santa, where do I put all these guns and empty whiskey bottles?
22.) Funny non-Christmas novelty song singing the "praises" for the U.S. Mail. You can buy this 45 here!
23.) Is that Carly Simon I hear? Yes... not the best track from her "Christmas Is Almost Here" CD but her voice rings true... as always.
24.) I've tried to like this song by Harvey Danger... it sounds great but I lose interest real quick.
25.) Seger sounds like a long-winded Congressman introducing a bill on the House floor. This probably would fit in with the post office nicely. From "A Novelty Christmas" - which I reviewed last year.
26.) Not that funny Sinatra parody from Ralph "Sinatra" Garman. If you want to hear this (don't say I didn't warn you), look for Kevin & Bean's "Santa's Swingin' Sack".
27.) Rockin' spiritual song that might be classified as Christmas - then again, might not. However, Alvin Stardust really tears it up in this one...
28.) See #6 above. Must admit, this one did make me laugh!
29.) I can't see how anyone could create a parody from Afroman's "Because I Got High". Bob Rivers tries and succeeds on some level I suppose. Both songs suffer after repeated playings...
30.) Very nicely done by Lee Ann Womack who recorded this on her 2002 "The Season For Romance" Christmas CD.
31.) My favorite Bosstones Christmas song! One of the best tracks to come from the "Santa Cause" comp.
32.) "Make life easy for yourself this holiday season. Shop early, mail early, and use zip codes." This friendly stress relieving message is brought to you by the post office (can you say irony?).

If I had to work at the post office during Christmas, I'd probably feel the side effects - the pressure, the stress, the urge to go postal on the guy next to you, the usual. However, if I could listen to this comp as I sorted out Christmas card after Christmas card and package after package, then I might not be so worked up everyday.

Some real fine Christmas music on this one. Several surprises (always nice) and at times, you do get the flavor of a frenetic mail room bustling to meet their deadlines and get the trucks off the docks.

Been a long day here. Just got this review in under the wire tonight... must have forgotten to include the zip on the address! I hope I won't fall this behind schedule again but it's still subject to change.

UP NEXT: JohnsCDs 2003-0843-030 - Mo' Xmas Vinyl


1 comment:

stubbysfears said...

Sorry to intrude again.

Minor correction: The Texas Eastside Kings track is not on the Blues Christmas CD--just as a track on their non-Christmas CD.

Likewise, the Lefty Dizz track is the ONLY Christmas song on that LP (which has yet to be issued on CD, so far as I know).

Wanted to also mention that lyrics are important to me and, when I heard Grey Eye Glances sing "I have found, you know me, I've found strength in a season--that everything happens for some sort of reason," it sounded exactly like something I would say in exactly that way.