Christmas Music Hell
I don't want to snow on anybody's parade, but am I the only one who is sick to death of Christmas songs? It's bad enough we have to hear them once a year (an aural equivalent of the dreaded "It's a Wonderful Life"), but the radio stations seem to be bringing them out earlier and earlier every year. This year, I had barely gotten the bird home from the store and Andy Williams is already crooning that "it's the most wonderful time of the year." "No it isn't!" I wanted to scream, "It isn't even Thanksgiving yet!"
I don't mean to be a scrooge, but just the opening strains of "White Christmas" make my ears bleed, and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" nearly makes me want to go postal (again). There have been a few good alternative versions out there over the years: Run DMC's "Christmas in Compton" comes to mind, and the pairing of Bing Crosby and David Bowie on "The Little Drummer Boy" was a once-in-a-lifetime stroke of genius. I have been told there are good versions by various other artists, but for the most part the only "covers" I have been exposed to are proof to the axiom that the best of intentions, funked-up arrangements, and talent are not nearly enough to overcome some of the most dreadful and maudlin melodies, lyrics and chord changes ever written.
Suspicious me - I also fear subliminal messages are contained in the radio friendly content exhorting us to be good consumers and extend our credit card debt: Christmas splurging being one of the four pillars of the American economy, along with mortgage refinancing, eBay, and online porn. Who can hear "O Little Town of Bethlehem" without wanting to buy a new XBox system for junior, "Frosty the Snowman" without dreaming of a "Bass-o-matic" kitchen appliance for the wife, or "We Three Kings" without a panic attack that you've forgotten to get something for Aunt Martha or the postman or somebody on the list? Those instructions are there I tell you - and Paul is dead too.
But the worst of it is - I like some of the songs. Andy does a heck of a nice soothing "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and I can't get enough of that "Carol of the Bells" - it's just I have to avoid it because it makes me want to go buy some sparkling wine or champagne and I'm on the wagon. However, my own personal favorite is the old standby "Silent Night" with its simple and still moving refrain - no doubt we will be seeing it used in commercials selling snow tires or bedpans one of these days.
And don't get me started on what they have done to good ol' Charlie Brown. Like Wynton Marsalis said - the only time you used to hear jazz on network TV was on the Peanuts specials, but "Linus and Lucy" has been so overplayed I'm actually beginning to dislike it. Should've gotten the picture when Snoopy started selling insurance.
I'm not against Christmas music in its entirety - there is nothing like hearing a full choir sing the "Hallelujah Chorus," but has anyone ever conducted a study on the high rate of suicide during the holidays? With all the stress of fighting crowds, decorating houses, mailing cards and gifts - on top of our already hectic lives - could this repetitive, Chinese-water-torturous, overabundance of good cheer in the form of Christmas Muzak be what puts some people over the edge? Does all the happy, happy, friendly family, religiosity conflict with our basic understanding of the truth of the reality of the world we really live in and cause a short circuit in the brain?
Oh well, I guess we just have to put up with it once a year. Until then, your ol' Curmudgeon will be "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" with the rest. Hey look "It's a Wonderful Life" is on TV tonight!
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misguided ramblings of the MusiCurmudgeon
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