[Today: Hide the holiday music...]
I know it’s not a popular sentiment to broadcast, but holiday music generally blows egg nog. Although the argument could be made that most Christmas carols just aren’t very good songs, the problem here is one of quantity not quality. The world is still singing the exact same batch of songs it was singing when I was a kid, and anytime you’re subjected to the same music in perpetuity, bad things will happen. What was inspiring and uplifting as a seven year-old becomes tired and dull several decades and a few hundred thousand listens later. Whenever I hear about homicides during the holiday season, I always suspect ‘Deck The Halls’ as a mitigating factor. Strangely, there don’t seem to be many new additions to the holiday music canon, and most of the recent memorable holiday songs are of the ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ or ‘Santa Got Run Over By A Reindeer’ novelty/kitsch varietal. In other words, we’re talking about a pretty stagnant pool of music.
So what are discerning listeners to do this time of year, besides gouge out their ears with a pencil? There are certainly a handful of very good holiday albums by excellent interpretive musicians – John Fahey’s The New Possibility comes to mind here. It’s an album of guitar instrumentals, and unless you were paying very close attention, it’s unlikely you’d realize you were listening to a holiday album. Which in my book is almost perfect.
But an even better idea is to skip the interpretations and move away from holiday music altogether. There’s a certain strain of classical music that sets the right kind of mood for the holidays, and two of my personal favorite examples of it are Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and Wynton Marsalis’ Baroque Music For Trumpets. The obvious huge disclaimer here is that if you’re not down with classical, this isn’t much of a solution. But I think we can all agree that almost anything beats yet another three minutes spent with the likes of ‘White Christmas’. Call it humbug if you must, but there’s no reason to let bad music dampen your holiday spirit.
Listen: Brandenburg Concerto #1 – in F [Bach]
Listen: Concerto for 2 Trumpets and Strings in C-Major, RV 537: I. Allegro [Marsalis]
Listen Concerto for 2 Trumpets and Strings in C Major, RV 537: II. Largo [Marsalis]
Listen: Concerto for 2 Trumpets and Strings in C-Major, RV 537: III. Allegro [Marsalis]