Dec 1, 2008


Larry and I have a rule: no Christmas music before Thanksgiving. For one, it keeps the music special. The season has been hijacked as it is. Or as my mother used to say, when she could put two words together, "When you see the Christmas decorations go up, you know Halloween can't be far behind." The other thing is: it's non stop yule music for Larry, once the pilgrim shoes come off.

I learned this the hard way our first Thanksgiving together. More precisely, on the 18 hour drive to Colorado and back. Larr couldn't wait to play All Christmas, All the Time. My brother Jim was in the car and he complained. Little did he realize we put on the music to shut his yapper. Put my brother in a room and if there is dead air space he will fill it with fun facts about the well-tempered klavier, oboe reed making, the terminal velocity of rocks and everything you would ever want to know about wine. Every kind of wine. He knows I'm in AA 9 1/2 years now and he still finds wine interesting to talk about around me. For hours. You'd play "Rockin Around The Christmas Tree" too.

I have some bad memories of Christmas music. I was scarred in grade school when we drove 3 1/2 hours from Orange County to the High Desert, and the only station we could get was playing Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad" every twenty minutes. To this day I cannot listen to that song. Unfortunately it's one of Larry's favorites. But so is "Jingle Bells" barked out by dogs. I, on the other hand, prefer the classical stuff: Choir of Kings College Cambridge, Chanticleer, men throwing their voices like girls. It's not the only Christmas music I like, but I definitely gravitate toward it.

But our third Christmas together I'm finally coming to appreciate some of the songs on Larry's list. I despise Motown. The Supremes are like nails on a chalkboard. Yet I would put Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) on my short list, even over the U2 version. And these days I'm really digging Mariah Carey's "Silent Night."

Larry and his sister Dianna introduced me to the Mackenzie brothers "Twelve Days Of Christmas. I think it must have been a sketch on Second City TV. (SCTV).
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me ... Beer.
Eight comic books, seven packs of smokes, six packs of tooth forks, five golden touques!
Four pounds of back bacon, three French toasts two turtlenecks, and a Beer. In a tree.

I do love some modern Christmas songs, but others are useless. Like Tom Petty's "Christmas All Over Again?" And all over town little kids gonna get down ... Christmas is a rockin' time, put your body next to mine ... hope you have a good one, I hope momma gets her shoppin' done... ACK. He must have had a contract to fulfill.

I bought a double album of "Essential Carols" by Kings College Cambridge. After the thirteenth carol, they all started to sound like a bunch of castratis singing in a catacomb about "lo the feathered pheasant flies, ring-dong ding now death must die, Aleluiah hodie, Yay-Zoo Christus Natus Est." It actually made me nostalgic for "Rockin Around the Christmas Tree." For a nanosecond.

"So Susan, do you like anything? At all?'' Sure I do. I've got a long list of songs I love, but here's the short list to start.

Est Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen, J.E. Gardiner Montiverdi Choir
Christmas Time is Here (instrumental), Vince Guaraldi. From "A Charlie Brown Christmas."
Gaudete, Steeleye Span
Do They Know It's Christmas? Band Aid. Totally 80s.
Christmas Time Is Here Again, The Beatles: Their Christmas messages got weirder every year. This was before acid and Yoko.
Christmas for Cowboys, John Denver. Larry introduced me to this one.
Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy, David Bowie & Bing Crosby. From a TV special.
All I Want for Christmas is You, Mariah Carey
The Holly And The Ivy, George Winston -- from the album December. Still holds up.
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). Darlene Love. Makes me almost love Motown.
Oy to the World, No Doubt. When you need to get rid of the sticky sweet.
12 Days of Christmas, Bob & Doug McKenzie. From Second City TV. Hysterical.
Huron Carol, Chanticleer. The first Native American carol.
The Infant King (Old Basque), King's College Cambridge. Just discovered this one.
Same Old Lang Syne, Dan Fogelberg. You may remember it. It IS a Christmas song.
O Magnum Mysterium, Chanticleer.
Coventry Carol, King's College Cambridge
O Tannenbaum, Vince Guaraldi
Silent Night, Mariah Carey
Some Children See Him George Winston
Happy Christmas/War is Over, John Lennon.
All That I Want, The Weepies. A new one I discovered through Lori Rooney.
Christmas Bells, John Gorka. From Larry's list.

You might recognize "Est Is Ein Ros Entsprungen" as "Lo how A Rose E'er Blooming," and before you write it off as just another castrati singing in a catacomb, have a listen here.

There is much more to say about Christmas, and Advent, and what it really meant that God emptied himself, squished himself down into the most meager vulnerable human form. But I'll leave that for next time.


Larry said...

I'm glad I could contribute to your ever-expanding appreciation for cheese at Christmas. Now if I can just get you to add "Snoopy's Christmas" to your list. But I have YOU to thank for turning me on to Steeleye Span and Chanticleer and the more sophisticated sounds of the Holidays.

diane said...

Susan - your list is my list - kinda freaky.

About 12 years ago I purchased my favorite Christmas album one day while shopping at a tiny little store in Princeton, NJ. Based on what you say here, I think you'd LOVE it too. Well, maybe just like it a lot.

The used one is less than $6, and you won't be sorry!

aazmom said...

Christmas albums:
Amy Grant's "A Christmas to Remember"
Lynard Skynard's (I think they only did one)
BNL "Barenaked for the Holidays"
The Ventures'
Point of Grace ("When Love Came Down" I think is the title)
Laurence Juber "Winter Guitar"

Christmas singles:
Chris Rice "Welcome to our World"
Five Iron Frenzy "You Gotta Get Up"
Margaret Becker "O Come O Come Emmanual"
NKC "O Little Town of Bethlehem"
Sandi Patty "O Holy Night"
The Surfaris "A Surfer's Christmas Wish"
Steve Taylor "Winter Wonderland"
and of course
The Waitresses "Christmas Wrapping" because any song that makes me instantly feel 17 again is OK by me

The words to the Chris Rice song are about some of my favorite lyrics of any song at any time, and so un-treacle-y as to not quite fit in with the rest of the mess in my stereo.

And this year I fell in love with the video of the group called Straight No Chaser doing the Twelve Days of Christmas. It's on Youtube.

Anyway, happy holidays, Susan. Your blog is a gift in my life.

Cary said...

Poor Dan Fogelberg. He sleeps with the fishes. Yeah, he was a sap, but I liked a few of his songs... like the one about the hotel with too many windows... whatever it was called.

Well there's too many windows
In this old hotel
And rooms filled with .... ? stuff.

Post a Comment