Hark! The Christmas Songs I Hear!

Things aren't what they used to be

First off – how do you like the snow on the blog? Pretty cool eh?

At the fantabulous Thanksgiving meal I attended last weekend, we had the radio on. It was some random French station which played a mix of music currently loved by the French. Because the French have yet to grasp what constitutes good music and have also yet to learn how to create a playlist, we decided it was less offensive to our ears to turn the radio off.

Since it was now officially the holiday season, the call was made for Christmas music and soon enough, we had ol’ blue eyes serenading all our winter blues away with our favourite Christmas songs. Then came the question that really threw me: “What’s your favourite Christmas song?”

Now, as we all know, choosing a favourite song, film or book always means a top 5 as rarely does any one item stand out so much that it can be hailed as the be all and end all. Still, choosing only five Christmas songs is HARD! I was including carols in this mix as well which made things just that extra bit more confusing. How does one compare ‘Hark The Herald Angels Sing’ to ‘Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer’? Yet here I go: Andy’s top five Christmas songs.

5: Silent Night (7 O’clock News)

A surprising choice to some maybe, but this song really strikes a chord with me. Not only do I like the song Silent Night, but I really love Simon and Garfunkel’s rendition of it with a news report in the background. It’s a not-so subtle reminder that all is not well at this time of year when we tend to forget the rest of the world. It’s also a call to all us Christians to actually fight for things worth fighting for. So many Christians get caught up in the stupid little things and become locked away in their little corner of judging that their whole faith becomes totally pointless and bitter. Forget trying to fight against people writing x-mas instead of Christmas, I doubt God really cares that much. I would sooner lose all mention of Christ from Christmas in the media and abolish poverty or AIDS or war than have some people with shiny gold heads on my Christmas cards and leave countless people to die.

With this song being released in 1966, there are obviously a few seemingly out-dated references to Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement but the message behind the song remains the same.

4: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

I love this song because of it’s many possible layers of meaning. When I hear it, I imagine a man singing it to somebody who’s left him so that the song is saying “You go a ahead and have your Christmas, I can’t really have a good one now that you’re gone but it will make me happy to know that you’re happy”. Maybe I’m just sad. Others see it as a happier song – a well-wisher serenading passers by or his friends. No matter how you take it, it is undeniably beautiful. No matter how many modern covers there are of this, the old ones are always the best:

3: See Amid The Winter’s Snow

This is one of my favourite carols because it isn’t sung that often. Sadly, as much as carols rock, they are all to often murdered and then cited as the best. Sure, so not every congregation is trained to sing, I understand this and God never did call for his praises to be sung in tune*. Yet because of the amount of times I’ve sung all the well known carols, I tend to only fully enjoy them when I hear them sung by a choir or when I’m singing them in a choir – It seems that from the repetitious singing year after year comes apathy on my part.

See Amid The Winter’s Snow however, is one which I love because I have no bad memories of it and because the words rock. Just the line “Lo within a manger lies / he who built the starry skies” never ceases to amaze me. Ok sure, so there are some discrepancies – I mean where can you find snow in Bethlehem I ask you? I love it nonetheless:

*One of my favourite verses in the Bible is “Make a joyful noise to the Lord” which pops up all over the Psalms (eg. Ps100:1). All that is required is joy and a noise. Tuning is optional so that even the tone deaf can praise him. Sadly some people tend to skip this verse and are all about the tune and nothing about the joy.

2: Winter Wonderland

Always a classic – I remember playing this in Saturday Morning Music School (oh the horror) on my trumpet in Junior Brass with the legendary teacher that was Mr Gregory. It’s stuck with me ever since and I really just love the way that it’s put together with all its accidentals and jazzy chord progressions and let’s hear it for that modulation in the middle folks! And of course, who better to lend his unmistakable tones to this ditty but old satchelmouth himself – Louis Armstrong:

1: All I Want For Christmas Is You:

Ok so you can call me a girl but I don’t care. This song gives me warm happy feelings every time I hear it which make me want to get up on the table and dance. You will all be glad to know that I resist these urges.

I mean come on, who doesn’t get a feel good feeling at the end of Love Actually when that girl gets up on stage to sing this song? Why do you feel so warm, happy and excited? Because it’s a kick-ass song that’s why!

For those of you who are immune to the obvious charms of this song, crawl away and hide in a hole until the 6th of January. We want to have a happy fun Christmas song and there’s nothing which you can say that will change our minds.

In true YouTube music lover spirit, here’s a cover from the fantastic Lisa Lavie who delivers the song with such talent it’s a cover which is almost as good, if not as good, as the original:

So there you have it – the list of my top five favourite Christmas songs. It was a hard choice – So Here It Is Merry Christmas didn’t make the list even though I love that song for all its cheesiness. Neither did Santa Claus is coming to town – though I only really like either rock n’ roll versions of that or the Zooey Deschanel cover from Elf… I digress.

What are your top 5 Christmas songs? Leave a comment – I’d really find it interesting.

P.S.V.

It’s nothing to do with Christmas but so what?

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One thought on “Hark! The Christmas Songs I Hear!

  1. LOVE the added snow on your blog. It makes it that much better. lol.

    I’m also thrilled that Sinatra made it on your list. If I only I were around in their prime.

    Without laboring over it too much, I think my favs would be Sleigh Bells, Jingle Bell Rock, Winter Wonderland, Louis Armstrong’s Cool Yule, and the entire The O.C: Mix 3, Chrismukkah album. I’d also have to include the entire Rat Pack Christmas album and Josh Groban’s Christmas album while I’m at it. I can’t choose! Though, if you’re interested in The O.C. album, we’ll have to do a mini-music swap. It’s like classics redone.

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