I have never been “a’wassailing” to my knowledge, but I really love Christmas songs and have meandered about neighborhoods singing them while sober. In fact, a quick perusal of my rather large music collection will reveal that I have more Christmas CDs than any other kind. My collection of Christmas music is so large that it is almost impossible for me to listen to all of it between the first Sunday of Advent and the end of the Christmas season on January 6 – even though it’s the only music I listen to and I keep it going all day. Because of this, I feel qualified to open a conversation about some standards I tend to adhere to and other observations, in hopes that others might share their own:
1. I will not sit through any renditions of “Angels We Have Heard On High” where the singer cannot pronounce “In Excelsis Deo.” It becomes like nails on a chalkboard, so I’m not going through that if I can avoid it.
2. No elevator music. This is pretty much a universal standard, but it doubly applies to Christmas music, where such treatment sucks all the life out of the song in an effort to make me buy something.
3. I’m not too keen on “The Little Drummer Boy.” Everyone covers it. No one does it well.
4. Andy Williams would be a destitute unknown lounge singer if not for Christmas music.
5. Any Christmas songs sung by Bing, Johnny Mathis, or Elvis are approved for all listening purposes because they’re Bing, Johnny Mathis, and Elvis.
6. Most modern “singers” are incapable of holding one note for more than a beat. I really can’t tolerate someone singing the word “Jesus” with more than 7 syllables, much less the 12 or more that Mariah Carey insists on using.
7.”We Three Kings” is rather ponderous and its use as the theme song for Epiphany might indicate that people are generally weary of the holiday season by then.
8. Humorous and novelty Christmas songs can be a lot of fun, but like any good joke, they start to grate if you share them too often. For “Grandma Got Run Over…” once is too often.
9. People who make “hardcore techno” Christmas songs should be held accountable for their crimes. They prove beyond a doubt that some musicians have no business getting anywhere near a Christmas song.
10. If you have recorded any Christmas music in the last 12 years, there is a high probability that you did a cover of “Adult Christmas Wish.” It’s still a good song, though.
Those are some of my observations. In the interests of fairness, you should know that I have a strong preference for groups of people, singing in harmony, Christmas carols, instead of just Christmas songs. If it is in THE Baptist Hymnal of 1956, it will thrill and inspire me every time, and I still count among my more significant Christmas memories hearing a lone tenor from a gay men’s choir sing “In the Bleak Midwinter” with tears in his eyes and voice because it was the first time a church allowed him to sing in a very long time and the choir behind me singing “Still, Still, Still” as we conducted a midnight Christmas Eve service. So what have you noticed about your music this Christmas?