5:08 p.m. - December 18, 2005
You can’t escape them, even if you tried. I mean, in some places they’ve been on radio stations since Halloween (a tad bit early, I think. Actually, any mention of Christmas before my birthday is way too early, and a 15-yard penalty, I feel).
And there’s nothing wrong with them, really. I’ve always loved Christmas carols, both religious and secular. For some reason, they warm my heart and my soul and I’m not the most religious person in the world and think of the birth of the Christ child as mostly allegorical (and there’s nothing wrong with that, you know. Even Christ himself used parables to teach, so why not use the same device for the Holy birth?? There are four different tales of it. Besides, were YOU there? Thought so)
There are a lot of classics of the ‘old school’ religious carols.
“Joy To the World” – The chorus is intricate and delicate at the same time.
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” – This song makes me want to stick it to Old Man Potter.
“O Come All Ye Faithful” – Very solemn and sincere. However, unless you are an opera singer do NOT sing in it in Latin. (You know, “Adeste Fideles”) If you sing it in Latin you’re just a pompous patoot.
“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” – Now this one is a cool one, because it doesn’t seem t to start on the right note and it makes you think while you’re singing it. You’re always, “Did I start on the right note? What the heck key IS this thing in, anyway?”
“Go Tell It On the Mountain” – The kum-ba-yah of the Carol season.
IN EXCELSIS DEO, YO!
Then there are the songs like “Good King Wenceslas” and “Here We Come a-Wassailing”. They don’t get enough run, I think. So when you’re going out caroling, instead of “Away In a Manger” or “The Little Drummer Boy”, crank out these mothers. I’m sure that you’d get an extra cinnamon stick in your cocoa for it.
But with the advent (non-religious version of that word) of the commercial Christmas, of course came the secular Christmas songs.
Oh, sure you have “Deck the Halls” and “Jingle Bells” and even “Silver Bells” (which I always picture a half-crocked Dean Martin singing on a Christmas special) you do have some decent ones.
“Sleigh Ride” – This is interesting instrumentally (my favorite version is Herb Alpert’s) but also vocally it can be a little workout. Besides, it’s always lovely weather, ladies, for a sleigh ride together with you. Yeah! You know it, babe! (Ok, I’ll turn off the smarm…geez. Can’t a guy have any fun??)
“Ring Christmas Bells” – I remember in ninth grade band we had to play that for our Christmas concert and the trumpets had the lead. Nothing like sixteenth notes going up to the highest part of your register, and I had braces then. Ouch.
“Let It Snow” and “Winter Wonderland” – They do not mention Christmas, per se, but are always stuck in this time of year anyway. Obviously the person who wrote them isn’t from Indiana, where one can goes “Wonderland, my a**!”
“Jingle Bell Rock” – It’s pleasant, but rock and roll Christmas songs are really hard to write. I think the only decent one is “Little Saint Nick” by the Beach Boys. I’m not counting things on the Carpenters Christmas album, either. (Though I do like their version of the “Christmas Waltz” as it even gives the non-musical a lesson in the proper meter that the song is in, you know “And this song of mine, in three-quarter time...”)
“The Christmas Song” – I have this by both Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis. And I think Tony Bennett too. (I have to dig out my Christmas CDs).
“White Christmas” – I really think this one is a bit overblown. Oh, it’s nice and all, and Bing does a heck of a job in crooning the heck out of it, but as a song, anyone who lives in the White Christmas zone doesn’t always dream of it. Sure, it’s cool to have a nice little dusting of snow on Christmas day, but an all out eight incher when you have to trek to various and sundry relatives, not as such.
Though, I’d love to hear Billy Idol do this one.
Because it’s a nice day, for a White Christmas!