On Christmas Music

It surprises people, when they know my lack of religious inclinations, that I enjoy listening to Christmas music. Indeed, I listen to Christmas music pretty much year ’round.

And it’s not even purely secular Christmas music I listen to. Yes, I have Fleming & John’s “Winter Wonderland,”Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” done in the style of “Free Bird,” or CDs of Beatles-influenced Christmas music, but I also like the religious-tinged Christmas music.

Much of my Christmas music is Celtic. Something about pipes and strings, I guess. And I have a CD of Christmas music done on the bagpipes, because everyone needs Christmas music done on the bagpipes. And then there’s an… interesting album called Christmas Inspired by Lord of the Rings — I had to buy that one from the Czech Republic, and, well, I don’t read Czech, but somehow it all worked out.

I even have some medieval Christmas music. Which is odd. As Christmas, as we know it, didn’t exist until the 1800s. (I could call it an historical irony that it was the Christians who waged the harshest war on Christmas, so I will call it an historical irony!)

And jazz! Yeah, I’ve got a fair collection of jazz Christmas music, too. Not just the CD that probably everyone has — A Charlie Brown Christmas — but others as well. Mostly collections; I can’t think of any single-artist jazz Christmas CDs I might have.

And rock stars! Ringo Starr’s I Wanna Be Santa Claus is great fun, and I like Barenaked for the Holidays, too. Actually, I’m not that big a fan of major musical acts putting out a Christmas CD, but I’ve always said that if one of my favorite bands, Carbon Leaf, ever did a Christmas CD (and I think they should) I’d be the first person in line to buy it.

Suffice it to say, I have a lot of Christmas music at my disposal. Whatever for?

What can I say? I like it. I like the sound. The message of the music — especially the religious music — doesn’t resonate with me, yet I find listening to it rather soothing. As the world grows darker, there’s a certain… light to Christmas music. (And yes, I’m well aware of the astronomical significance of winter solstice festivals like Christmas — December 25th is when it begins to be obvious that the Sun is rising in the sky again.)

At this time of year, you expect to hear Christmas music as a kind of ever-present muzak anyway.

I’ll say this. You’ve never heard “What Child Is This?” until you’ve heard it played like “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

And how can I forget Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics? šŸ˜†

But I do draw the line at “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” It’s a creepy, offensive, cloying, racist piece of garbage — children are dying of starvation and thirst in Africa, and Bono sings, “Tonight thank god it’s them instead of you” — and it’s just wrong on so many levels that I have to question the sanity of the British record buying public that three versions of that song have gone to number one in the British pop charts.

It’s December. There’s no snow in the air, at least not in Charm City. But I will enjoy my copious collection of Christmas music.

So should you. šŸ™‚

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