Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States

I'm an ordained United Methodist minister no longer pastoring churches, a former media producer with skills ten years out of date, a writer trying to sell my first novel, and a sales associate keeping body and soul together working for the People's Republic of Corporate America. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who was my best friend for 17 years before we married.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

On Christmas Music

Working for a major retailer, you get assaulted by ceiling music all day, every day. Once the Christmas season starts, it's even more annoying. But this year I was working for a right-wing outfit that doesn't want to incur the wrath of Bill O'Reilly, so they played some Christian carols in with Frosty and Rudolph, and Winter Wonderland. It was, I admit, a refreshing change. Before, all I could hear all day was ode after ode to winter and snow and an a few Santa Claus songs.

I have some thoughts about this music, and for my own satisfaction and the edification of anyone who might want to share, here they are:

Once this season I heard Willie Nelson singing "Deck the Halls." Great! That helped me through having to listen to the dreck the rest of the time.

A song I started hearing a few years ago sounds like something from Jo Stafford or somebody, and it sound like something pulled out of its deserved obscurity in the 1940s. "The Man With the Bag." I thought it was a one-year phenomenon, but last year I heard another version of it, this time with a male singer. God help us. This year at my new store, it was just the original female vocalist, and not as often as it was at Sears.

I think the best rendition of Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song" (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire....) was done by Nat "King" Cole. Funny thing about that song, and "Silver Bells" and "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" is that they are little more than lists of thing seen and heard around this time of year. Gets old the fiftieth time you hear them.

When I was in high school chorus we sang "The Little Drummer Boy" and "Do You Hear What I Hear." I loved them then, but since I've grown up, I've gotten sick of them. They are not Biblical, they are watery in their theology, and the more you hear them the sappier they sound. Yet I couldn't spend fifteen minutes in the store without hearing one or both.

Some songs are fine if you hear them once a season: "Holly Jolly Christmas," and "Little Saint Nick" are two of them. Yet you hear them over and over and over in the store. Same with "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" and "Baby, It's Cold Outside."

Another one is the version of Jingle Bells done by Lena Horne, or someone who sounds like her. Some of the variations of the lyrics are, "Happy...all the way" and "With my baby by my side, I don't really care." As I said, once is enough.

The best version of "Sleigh Ride" is the original by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops.

Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" is one of the best-selling record of all time, and it seems like every copy is being played at least once.

The best version of "Joy to the World" has to be the one by the New York Philharmonic. I have the record, and if I still listened to vinyl, I would play it every year.

My liner notes on the 1967 Goodyear Christmas record says that "It's Christmas Time All Over the World" was specially commissioned for that record. Well, it's taken off enough to make into Corporate America's ceilings.

And how did a song from "The Sound of Music" sung to calm children down during a summer thunderstorm get to be associated with Christmas?

Finally, "O Holy Night" has to be the greatest, most magnificent Christmas carol ever written or performed. I'm glad I got to hear it from Home Depot's ceiling. It's just weird hearing it from the same speakers that half an hour before were emitting "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer."


Post a Comment

<< Home