Every fall, it seems hundreds of new holiday records flood the market. It’s a lucrative move for established artists – fans love new material, and what could be better than your favorite singer performing their own version of “Silver Bells” even though there are literally thousands of versions of the holiday classic out there?
Many artists take a different tack, and will roll out a brand-new holiday song, hoping that over time it will join the ranks of “Silver Bells” and “White Christmas” and become a holiday favorite – think Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is You” and Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime”.
Back in the late 1980’s Connecticut Rock and Roll legends The Reducers decided to come out with their own twisted Christmas song. “Nothing for Christmas” became an instant hit with their fans, and is still highly regarded and played by disc jockeys across the country. The original pressing of 45-rpm version of the song is highly sought after by vinyl collectors.
“Nothing for Christmas” was written by The Reducers’ Peter Detmold.
“We had been going for about 10 years at that point, and we were already pretty successful,” said Detmold. Certain people kept telling us every year ‘you gotta have a Christmas song’. It seemed like a pretty funny idea at the time to us and I thought ‘maybe I’ll write an anti-Christmas song,’ which I think that’s what ‘Nothing for Christmas’ is.
The protagonist in the song is an abrasive family member who has been shunned by the rest of the clan.
I’ve ticked off everyone in my family
Now they’ve got no time left for me
My spirits start to sink every year
When December 25th draws near
And I’m faced with yet another Christmas without stocking stuffers
Pretty gifts and mistletoe
But there’s just one thing I know for sure.
That I’m not getting nothing for Christmas
Detmold said the lyrics are tongue in cheek, and perhaps a reflection of his own disdain for holiday songs.
“I still feel the same way about holiday, Christmas songs - I’m just not into it. Like at a certain point radio stations start playing Christmas music, and I kinda hate it. I wish there was more stuff out there like our song,” said Detmold.
Detmold introduced the song to the band in the fall of 1988, and they quickly jumped into the studio to record it.
“We recorded the song in a place we never used, and we’ve never been back to. It was called ‘The Fallout Shelter’ and basically it was a guy’s basement in Tolland,” said Detmold. “We recorded and mixed it in one day. I think it’s a great record. I wrote it quickly, we recorded it quickly, the whole thing was done quickly and it sounds like that. But that’s a good thing, it sounds the way we wanted it to sound.”
“Nothing for Christmas” quickly caught on -first by fans of the Reducers who bought up the 45-rpm, and later by radio DJs, who found the ironic and somewhat twisted lyrics refreshing. Detmold said that by 1989 the song was the climax of their live shows.
“It gave us a song to play whenever we played out around the holidays, and people loved it,” said Detmold. “I think everyone can relate to it in one way or another, “I’m not getting nothin’ for Christmas” - I think everyone has that feeling once in a while. We sold out of our initial press which was 1,000 or 2,000. We sold them for one or two dollars apiece. And now they go for more than that on eBay.”
“Nothing For Christmas” is still played by radio stations nationwide this time of year.
In case you were wondering, the B-Side of “Nothing for Christmas” was The Reducers own take on the New Year’s class “Auld Lang Syne.”
“That was even more off the cuff than ‘Nothing for Christmas’. We just knew we had to have a B-side. We probably ran through ‘Auld Lang Syne’ 2 or 3 times and recorded it, and that’s what you hear on the record. We don’t do a great job on it, but once again it has that immediacy that I think gets it across to people. I’m really happy with how that record sounds all these years on,” said Detmold.