Let's see if Blogger cooperates this time...
For obvious reasons, I'm feeling somewhat ambivalent about Christmas this year. So I thought I'd just talk about some of my likes and dislikes about Christmas, or more specifically, about Christmas music.
Personally, I usually prefer the older, more religious Christmas carols... "We Three Kings" as opposed to "Here Comes Santa Claus," and such. And I generally like these songs better when they're sung by the more established singers of an earlier era -- Crosby, Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, etc. -- as opposed to whatever some modern pop or rock artist has chosen to "gift" us with. But there are exceptions to that ill-defined rule, as you'll see below... if you make it that far.
I wanted to showcase some of my favorite Christmas songs -- in between some characteristic "RantZ" about songs I don't like, or at least, certain details about certain songs that bother me -- and was thwarted in my efforts to find the proper versions.
For example, my absolute favorite version of "Do You Hear What I Hear?" is by Robert Goulet, and it's not on YouTube. So I decided to "settle" for the song as oh-so-ably performed by Bing Crosby.
And hey, speaking of favorites... Can anyone tell me why "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music is now considered a Christmas song? And don't give me any of that crap about how certain lines have "winter imagery," etc., please?
Another favorite song version which I searched for and didn't find was "The First Noël" as sung by Dennis Day. Instead, I'm offering that Christmas classic -- one that "struck" me for no apparent reason when I was still a child -- as performed by Andy Williams.
"The First Noël" does have a line that bothers me now, even more than it did when I was about seven or eight, and first realized that something was "wrong" about the song.
The second verse begins "They looked up and saw a star..." Two notes are devoted to the word "they," so it comes out "they-ey." Those two notes are followed by another two -- "look-ed" -- which force the singer to sing "look" and "ed" as two separate syllables, rather than pronouncing it as "look'd." WTF? I'm hoping that this awkward construction can be blamed on the nuances of 16th century English. Otherwise, it seems like pretty amateurish writing. (Even at seven, I asked "How come they didn't say something like 'They all looked up?' That would've been better!")
In the song "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year," the following lines appear: "There'll be parties for hosting / Marshmallows for toasting / And caroling out in the snow / There'll be scary ghost stories..."
Wait a minute. Time out. "Scary ghost stories?" Excuse me? Who the hell tells ghost stories on Christmas?!?
But now that I think of it, has anyone else ever noticed the similarity between "Carol of the Bells" and "Danse Macabre?"
I've already ranted elsewhere, at length (of course), about how and why the line in "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" which calls Rudolph "the most famous reindeer" bothers me.
Another song with a line that irks me is "I'll Be Home for Christmas," because it begins by saying "I'll be home for Christmas / You can count on me" (emphasis mine), and continues to say "I'll be home for Christmas / If only in my dreams" (again, emphasis mine).
Well, make up your damned mind.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I understand the point of the song itself. This person wishes he/she could be home for Christmas, but knows it won't happen. But why say "count on me" when you know this?
So again, make up your damned mind! I gotta know how many table-settings to put out!
Okay, okay, when I start getting that picky, it's time for more music!
Successfully mixing the traditional songs I've mentioned with a modern treatment, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra has been blowing audiences away for years now. However, if you've never heard of them because you've been living under a rock, here's not one, not two, but three songs they've whipped together, featuring such Christmas favorites of mine as "the Nutcracker Suite," "O Holy Night," and "Carol of the Bells."
Yup, there are a lot of Christmas songs I love. Here are some more recent tunes -- "recent" meaning they were written in the last century! -- which I'm just throwing out at random. Some are a bit depressing, which is only fitting. Not everyone is happy this time of year, for whatever reason. Here's a pleasant thought, one which you probably knew already: More people commit suicide at this time of year than any other. Isn't that cheerful?
If I hadn't used up so much room with stuff I liked, I could have filled this space with YouTube videos telling you about Christmas songs I don't like, and why.
Neil Diamond did an ambitious version of "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen" which I really can't stand. It has almost a "barbershop" feel to its arrangement, but kinda falls apart in the middle.
I usually love instrumental versions of "Sleigh Ride," but between the "giddy-up" lines and the "comfy cozy" bit, I think the lyrics are sorta lame.
And this ought to tick off more than a few readers: I really dislike the song "Little Drummer Boy." I don't care how popular it is; I think it's stupid. And don't try telling me about how cool you thought the Bing Crosby & David Bowie duet was. It's a dumb song.
Here's a note I wanted to include because I didn't know where else to put it: Often, a person who seems less than enthusiastic about Christmas is asked, "Are you a 'Bah-humbug?' "
"Bah! Humbug!" is not a freakin' noun. It's an exclamation expressing Scrooge's opinion that Christmas was a "humbug," a fraud. The modern-day version of "Bah! Humbug!" would be something like "Ha! Bulls**t!" So calling someone "a Bah-humbug" would be like calling him or her "a bulls**t." Just plain wrong.
Back to the music...
One of my all-time most-loved Christmas songs is "O Holy Night." My favorite version is by Enrico Caruso, recorded in 1916. In my collection of cool stuff I have an original 78 rpm disc of The Great Caruso singing this song in French. Here's a video of it. Caruso's voice still gives me chills, and that's in spite of the poor recording quality of roughly 100 years ago.
Now, lest you think I'm going to let the sarcastic comments or depressing remarks override the theme of this post, my final two songs will be upbeat, I promise.
First, one of the few rock'n'roll Christmas songs that I really love!
And last, but not least, this re-working of a classic really kicks butt! Crank it up to "11," and... Merry Christmas.
Thanks for your time.