It’s Beginning to Sound a lot Like Christmas

Christmas is only a week away.

The above statement will likely illicit several reactions depending on whether one does or does not have their Christmas shopping done.

Of course a staple of any trip to the store to shop for Christmas presents is being joined by the sounds of the season.

No I am not talking about the sounds of people fighting over the last roll of Hello Kitty wrapping paper or the latest Tickle Me or Sing with Me Elmo.

I am referring to the in store music selection which no doubt will include Christmas music being piped through the store’s sound system.

Now, in the past two weeks I have attended three Christmas concerts filled with the various sounds of the season.

For many Christmas time is not near until they hear the music of Charlie Brown. Photo R. Anderson

For many Christmas time is not near until they hear the music of Charlie Brown.
Photo R. Anderson

But for those who prefer their Christmas music to be in a retail setting a trip to the local big box store can be just what the doctor ordered.

And for those of us who prefer to do our shopping online, popping in some Christmas music while dashing through the web can certainly heighten the experience.

Of course it seems like everybody with a record contract has a Christmas album so there certainly are a lot of choices when it comes to picking one’s favorite sounds of the season. Some are good and some are definitely closer to the naughty list.

And while the world really does not need any more versions of the Little Drummer Boy and his pa rum pa pum pumming, nor does it need anymore thumpitty thump thumping along with Frosty the Snowman there will no doubt be many more songs added to the Christmas playlist by this time next year fighting for airplay along with the classics sung by those long passed crooners.

Of course part of what make Christmas songs so popular this time of year, aside from the fact that Christmas time is here, is the fact that the songs are familiar and trigger memories of seasons gone by with family and friends.

There are certain songs that I hear each year that remind me of the times when a much younger version of myself sat on my mom’s lap as we watched the lights of the Christmas tree flicker as Dean Martin and Perry Como sang on the vinyl.

When I was growing up Bing Crosby's Christmas album was a holiday staple. Photo R. Anderson

When I was growing up Bing Crosby’s Christmas album was a holiday staple.
Photo R. Anderson

While vinyl has given way to the iPod the songs still take me back whenever I hear them.

While the songs that remind me of Christmas may not be the same songs for everybody I have little doubt that there are songs with memories attached for everyone.

There are also songs of the Christmas season that make me laugh which I know was not the intent when they were first being performed.

There is one song in particular that I just cannot get enough of. In particular I love the over the top way that Bono performs his particular line. While Bono was likely very sincere while singing, “Well tonight Thank God it’s them instead of you,” the way he sings it makes me laugh every time I hear it.

Another must listen song to get me in a festive holiday mood is the song Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses with the line about the forgotten cranberry sauce while the world’s smallest turkey from A&P is in the oven all nice and hot.

Both of those songs are originals that can not really be duplicated although the Barenaked Ladies do a pretty good cover of Do they Know it’s Christmas.

Of course with so many people trying to record the same songs year after year certain artists try to put their stamp on the song to make their version the definitive version of said holiday classic.

I call this the Star Spangled Banner effect.

Another Classic that seems to stand the test of time is the Rat Pack. Photo R. Anderson

Another Classic that seems to stand the test of time is the Rat Pack.
Photo R. Anderson

I am sure that most everyone reading this has heard the National Anthem performed at a sporting event or other large gathering at one time or another in their lives.

The words penned by Francis Scott Key outside of Baltimore with the bombs bursting mid air amid the rockets red glare are iconic and meaningful and can move even the toughest guy or gal to tears when performed correctly.

But all too often people singing the National Anthem want to add embellishments as a way to put their signature on the song.

Whether it is drawing out the length of the song through a slow motion jam, or trying to hit the high notes higher than anyone has ever hit them before, history is full of Anthem singers trying just a little too hard.

There are also those performers such as the late Whitney Houston who record their anthem ahead of time and then lip sync during the actual event.

Of course there is also the certain comedian who took it a step further by pretending to grab her crotch while spitting on home plate during her time singing the Anthem.

For me the best anthems are the simplest anthems. Give me a nice marching band performing it over an over zealous pop star or spitting comedian any day.

I am also a fan of anthems played by a single trumpet or sung from the heart without unnecessary embellishments.

Call me crazy but the National Anthem is not the time to show how much vocal range one has. Just sing the anthem in a respectful way and let’s play ball.

So it is with the classic Christmas songs. From Oh Holy Night, Silent Night, The Christmas Song, Jingle Bells etc. simple really is better.

Just like with the National Anthem there is a reason behind the Christmas songs.

Singers of both the anthem and Christmas songs should be ever mindful of the source material and stay respectful of that fact.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Christmas music to listen to.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson