Sunday, December 20, 2020

Sunday Music: Holiday Cheer


I'm not much of a fan of most modern Christmas music, with some few exceptions (like last week). Hymns and carols are traditional for a reason: we don't want performers jazzing it up (or worse, tarting it up) to say "me, Me, ME!" But evidently modern celebs (not "stars") can rarely seem to grasp, despite the holiday being titled "Christmas", there's a star of the piece all right, but it AIN'T them. We want them sung the way we remember, and maybe better than. But the spotlight is elsewhere.

The exception (like last week) is songs that aren't traditional, but pay proper homage to the season and/or holiday, in a new way, rather than trying to shoehorn themselves into the spotlight on an old favorite.

In that vein, I can listen to Karen Carpenter sing everything and anything (including bathroom breaks, which they actually did on one album) because of That Incredible Voice. I'm pretty sure I had a crush on her from about the age of 8 just from hearing her sing on a bank commercial, which turned into their first hit. Which makes the following relatively modern song (although it's 50 years old now) one of the few Christmas songs I hear that can never be overplayed, at least for me.


The other one is the one piece of music without which, it is not Christmas for me. A traditional Ukrainian refrain, with English words added much later, it captures perfectly the twin peaks of melancholy and joy of a season it takes someone from the Pодина to feel deep in their bones, just like the Siberian winds that bring it forth.

It's been covered in solos, instrumentals, orchestras, and everything in between, including classical guitar, nothing but strings, actual handbell choirs, and probably even steel drum bands. And I love them all, dearly. But to my mind, no one had done more justice to the Carol Of the Bells than John Williams did in Home Alone. Or so I thought, until I found his extended version. If I had Bill Gates/George Soros stupid-rich money, I'd hire a fleet of blimps to fly over cities on Christmas Eve blasting this from just out of sight in the clouds, at volumes that would penetrate bomb shelter concrete, yet clearly enough to crack Scrooge's heart, until he rushed outside to buy that goose for Bob Cratchit. Turn it up and let it wash over you. Worse things could happen to you than to feel the spirit of the season.


A Merry Christmas to you all, and may you and yours all enjoy the blessings of this holiday season.



9 comments:

Tim said...

Burl Ives was always a favorite of mine

Old NFO said...

And a Merry Christmas to you and yours!

kb512 said...

Nice song of the season, remember it well.

I'll offer this one - Charlie Brown Christmas Mashup

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiZ-4EKaiR4

Take care & have a safe holiday.

KB

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Aesop, Good King Wenceslaus for me.

Growing up, we had the Bing Crosby Christmas album which my mother would play every year. That, to me, is what I associate most with Christmas.

Tina said...

Merry Christmas, Aesop! God bless you and all your readers in the coming year!

John said...

HA! Bathroom break!

Carpenters: A Song for You, Intermission.

My big brother had that album, and we listened to it again and again.

-JW

idahobob said...

And a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year to you and yours.

cyrus83 said...

I like this version, but I am also fond of Ray Conniff's version of the carol, which uses different lyrics.

horsewithnonick said...

We had that one, and, strangely enough, the Barbra Streisand Christmas album.