#5 Music: there’s more out there than Rudolf and chestnuts
Yeah I know – the music thing is a double-edged thing this time of year. We’re shopping for Halloween costumes and some squeaky children’s chorus is singing Frosty the Snowman. Whoever decided that what we all most want at Christmas time is to listen to children not our own sing songs designed to go with cartoons, well… if it weren’t the season of peace and joy, we’d have to kill them.
The music is another way to make this season special. I keep my Christmas cds in the storage bins with the decorations, so they come out together. Now I have a Christmas playlist on my iPod that I have unchecked for most of the year – with 233 songs in it.
I like to seek out the unusual, the old songs. One of my favorites is Dido’s Christmas Day. I embedded it here, in case you’d like to listen while you read.
Some of my favorite albums are The Chieftains’ Bells of Dublin, which has some great old song like The Wren in the Furze, and Christmas in Rome, which is, not surprisingly, considerably more Catholic. I love Enya’s Silent Night Christmas EP, but didn’t know about the album I posted here until I searched for the EP (to no avail). I immediately downloaded And Winter Came – lovely. Annie Lennox also just came out with a Christmas Cornucopia, which bears her inimitable style.
Some fun collections include the Barenaked Ladies Barenaked for the Holidays (it has a couple of lovely Hanukkah songs, too) and the Squirrel Nut Zippers Christmas Caravan. David is fond of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Christmas Time Again. For more traditional Celtic songs, check out Jean Redpath’s Still the Night or Thistle & Shamrock’s Christmas Ceilidh. The compilations often lead me to terrific discoveries like Stuart McLean, a Canadian radio show host. He tells stories about Dave, who owns a record store. “Dave Cooks a Turkey” and “Polly Anderson’s Christmas Party” are two of the most hysterical stories I’ve ever heard. You’d have to get his Christmas Concert cds to hear them, but here’s a shorter one, just for you (from that same album).