One December, many years ago, Keith and I started trying to list every Christmas song we could think of. By Christmas Eve, I believe our number was in the eighties. That's a ridiculous catalog of music devoted to one holiday, if you think about it -- and we were limiting ourselves to songs that we felt confident were well-known to the general public. Never mind all the little cheesy tunes being written out there to beef up the annual Christmas cantata and make it feel more original.
The girls and I have been listening to the all-Christmas music station in the car. I was telling them about how when I was little, there was one station in town who would start sometime on Christmas Eve and play holiday music until midnight Christmas night. And they would publish their playlist in the paper so if there was a particular song you didn't want to miss, you knew what hour to tune in. But this 24-hour, 35-day binge . . . unheard of at the time.
I like Christmas music generally. But the thing about these 24-hour holiday music stations is that to fill that much time, they have to play a lot of crap, too. Seriously, has every recording artist on the planet done their own version of "Winter Wonderland"? And none of them very interesting or original--except for . . oh, shoot, what's her name? Grace something? Or is it Annie Lennox? The scary-looking rocker chick. You know who I mean.
I suppose if I would move into the new millenium, get an Ipod and learn how to use it, I could listen to the good stuff all the time and not be subject to K95 and the Music Choice channel's tastes. But then I'd have to figure out what to put on my Ipod. You know what would NOT be there? John Lennon's "So This Is Christmas". George Michael's "Last Christmas". Elvis' "Blue Christmas" -- oh, heavens, no. I know Elvis fans will crucify me, but the man sounds like a bad impersonation of himself in that song. Ugh.
What I would include? Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Christmas Eve in Sarajevo". Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas". Barry Manilow's "Jingle Bells" (no lie -- check it out). A good instrumental version of "Sleigh Ride". The whole Nutcracker soundtrack (yes, former ballerina here). Some pretty version of "Silver Bells" -- I've always liked that song. The muppets singing "The Twelve Days of Christmas". Oh! -- and the Grinch song. No doubt.
But mainly, I want the old Christmas carols, sung by no-name folks who aren't all about the glory of their own voices. My favorite? "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing." Best Christmas song ever. Big, soaring and glorious.
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see.
Hail the incarnate deity!
Pleased as man with man to dwell--
Jesus, our Immanuel!
Mild, he lay his glory by
Born that man no more may die!
Born to raise the sons of earth!
Born to give them second birth!
The Symphony concert Keith and I went to last Saturday closed with that, and it was rapturous. If I could swim in that hymn for the next week and half, it would be the best Christmas ever.
Hark, the herald angels sing --
GLORY to the newborn King!!