Friday, December 24, 2004

Yuletide Songs

Today is Christmas Eve. Since I am not Christian, that doesn't really hold too much significance for me. But December 24 is a very significant date to me in another way, it is the birthday of a lovely young lady very dear to my heart. We usually get to chat on her birthday, but today being what it is, she has been tied up with family. I am hoping we will get talk later tonight, otherwise I am going to be pretty blue. We've never missed chatting on her birthday.

Anyhow, while I don't celebrate Christmas, I do have a keen appreciation for Yuletide songs. Obviously the more religious songs hold little meaning for me, although I can appreciate the artistry that went into the writing of "Silent Night" or "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." But I do love many of the more secular Yuletide carols. Like many people I have a warm spot in my heart for the standards. I have loved "White Christmas" ever since I was child, particularly the original Bing Crosby version. I remember that my mom would call me into the room any time it was playing. I also love "Silver Bells" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"--it is perhaps notable that all three songs come from movies. I don't think "The Christmas Song" was from a motion picture, but I love it all the same.

Of course, I also have a weakness for the more light hearted carols, those about the jolly old elf himself. "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," "Up on the Rooftop," "Here Comes Santa Claus," I love all of them. I also love "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers," I suppose because of the fancy of toys come to life.

As much as I like many of the older songs, I particularly like the songs of the rock 'n' roll era. Everyone has heard ""Jingle Bell Rock" and "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree," but Yuletide rock goes much deeper than that. I don't know what the first holiday rock song was, but Chuck Berry's "Run, Run Rudolph" is one of the best. Performed in the usual Chuck Berry style, it is a straight rock song that just happens to be about Santa and his reindeer. I also love Tom Petty's "Christmas All Over Again"--it just seems to capture the season. Of course, to me there are two Yuletide songs that stand above the rest. The first is "Happy Christmas" (War is Over) by John Lennon. To me it is perhaps the only song that captures the idea of Yuletide as a time of reflection, which it is for many. It also captures the joy of the season in a way that many other songs don't. But as for the all time, greatest holiday song of them all, that would "Christmas" (Baby Please Come Home) by Darlene Love. It is basically a love song in which someone longs for her loved one to be with her on the holiday. The song is great because it turns the old Yuletide cliches on their head--the snow coming down and the bells ringing are not signs of joy, but reminders of what has been lost. I don't think any song can't quite match its originality or its power.

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