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Songs of Christmas: 'Christmastime in Painesville'

December 5, 2013 - Andy Gray
In the mid-‘90s, Youngstown’s Slack Jaw received plenty of airplay on modern rock station WENZ-FM in Cleveland, primarily for the song “I Could Crack (Anytime).”

The band only released a five-song cassette (“Trailer Park Renaissance” in ‘94) and a CD (“Father Misery” in ‘95) during its time together. A hidden bonus track on that CD was “Christmastime in Painesville.”

The song follows a long tradition of heartbreak-at-Christmas songs, but that jangly guitar riff and clever wordplay (particularly the way it uses the names of northeast Ohio cities Painesville and Strongsville in the lyrics) have made it one of my favorite Christmas songs ever since.

WENZ used to play it often during the holidays (the station edited out the 50-second acoustic guitar intro). John Koury, who wrote and sang the song for Slack Jaw, re-recorded it two years ago with his current band, The Deadbeat Poets. That version is available on the EP “A Deadbeat Christmas” and can be downloaded from iTunes, Amazon, etc.

The original version has been out-of-print forever, but someone posted it on YouTube a couple years ago, making the hearts of northeast Ohio modern rockers grow three sizes that day. Click the link and enjoy. And since the song will make you want to know, I’ll answer the question in advance: Vince Guaraldi died in 1976.


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