Love It or Hate It? Christmas Music Anyone?

Christmas-MusicI love Christmas music, of all kinds, and all demoninations. I love to play Christmas music whether it is playing  trombone in a full orchestra or brass quartet or euphonium or tuba in a TubaChristmas concert. I love the sounds and the merriment. But I know that some people loathe it, with a passion! I’m not one of those people who start listening to Christmas music in October. I wait until after Thanksgiving and the first of December.

As a kid I remember listening to my parents music and we had one Christmas album, by Andy Williams. I learned all of those songs by playing that album incessantly, much to the chagrin of my mother.

Last week, I sat down and listened to a tiny bit of my CD collection of Christmas music. I think I made it through about 12 CDs or so. I started identifying songs that I wanted to rip and put in my iTunes library. For most CDs I would identify 3 or 4 songs that I liked or sometimes the whole CD (Elvis, the Canadian Brass, and the Dallas Symphony Brass). For some CDs I didn’t choose any of the songs and I’ll be getting rid of those CDs. I realized I’m not into to music that I refer to as “tinkly shit” (think Renaissance type music) and that I am more into big, brassy arrangements or ones that I can sing along with.

There are some songs that sounded like death dirges instead of holiday melodies. I like to avoid those…

  • I’ll be Home for Christmas
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Some songs I want to avoid at all costs:
  • We Wish You A Merry Christmas
  • Must Be Santa
  • Holly Jolly Christmas
  • I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
  • The Littlest Angel
  • LIttle Drummer Boy
  • 12 Days of Christmas (Although I love the arrangement by Straight No Chaser which is really a Christmas carol medley that includes My Dreidel)
  • All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth (Unless you are 6 and missing your front teeth)
  • Anything involving Chipmunks
Somes songs are good to sing in another language. These kind were always fun in grade school.
  • Adestes Fidelis
  • O’ Tannenbaum
  • Stille Nacht
Some songs are good for sing-a-longs or for caroling around the neighborhood:
  • Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Jingle Bells
  • Jingle Bell Rock
  • Frosty, the Snowman
  • Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
  • Away in the Manger
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Deck the Halls
Some songs I can sing all day long and I would characterize these as favorites:
  • Winter Wonderland
  • The Christmas Song
  • White Christmas
  • Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
  • Silver Bells
  • Santa Baby
  • Good King Wenceslas
  • Go Tell It On the Mountain (I have a fabulous jazz version of this from the Pete Jacobs Orchestra on their album Big Band Christmas)
  • O Holy Night
  • Auld Lang Syne
  • Hallelujah Chorus
  • Blue Christmas (when Elvis is singing it)
Some songs I just love to sing or play on trombone (in an orchestra or brass group):
  • Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  • Angels We Have Heard on High
  • We Three Kings
  • The First Noel
  • Joy to the World
  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • Sleigh Ride (I always volunteer to help out the percussion section and play the whip in this one)
  • Nutcracker Suite (I totally prefer the bass trombone part in this one, much more interesting playing a sting-bass like part rather than counting rests)
A few memories stick out when I think about holiday music and Christmas songs. In grade school we did pageants each Christmas and it was always fun to do this. I remember we got to sing O Holy Night and that a few of the Van Buren Singers (our grade school singing group) were chosen to sing O Holy Night. I remember auditioning for this thinking it was Silent Night. After a few people sang it by themselves, I realized that I had gotten myself into a mess. I quickly felt tike throwing up and leaving the room, but somehow made my way through the audition for a song I didn’t know and ended up getting chosen. O Holy Night has been a favorite ever since.
Another favorite memory is when Tony Clements (the Principal Tubist of the San Jose Symphony when I was in High School and also our brass coach in the California Youth Symphony) pressed our brass section into participating in a Tuba Christmas in San Jose at the park in front of the Fairmont Hotel. It was fabulous to hear the harmonies and big sound produced by that random group of brass players brought together to make music.
Another favorite memory is when I lived in Germany I went to a brass festival and there were hundreds of brass players and we worked our way through a hymn book and played more traditional Christmas music. The sound was something I’ll never forget. You wanted to float away on it.
My absolute favorite Christmas song is the Eartha Kitt version of Santa Baby, although the version on Ally McBeal was a close second for entertainment value, but not the singing!
Leave me a comment on whether you love or hate Christmas music and if you do, what your favorite it! Happy Holidays!!!

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