I've listened to Christmas songs all my life. Well, let rephrase that. I've listened to them every Christmas that I can remember. But have you ever REALY listened?
The first thing you might notice is that some of them have nothing at all to do with any Christian holiday. A lot of them seem to be about snow. Frosty the Snowman runs around a village, barely noticing the local constabulary.
We Let It Snow, so we can go dashing through it with our Jingle Bells. Those Jingle Bells Rock. And Baby Its Cold Outside, so lets not go Walking In A Winter Wonderland.
And then there's my favorite, or should I say, My Favorite Things. How did this become a Yuletide song. Its from The Sound of Music. It has nothing at all do with the season. Even the the reference to presents talks about them being brown papered and tied up with string. Not a colored wrapping or piece of gay ribbon to be had anywhere in the lyrics. Okay, one mention of snowflakes and another about sleigh bells but these are overshadowed by girls in white dresses and geese flying about.
Of course Broadway and Hollywood have done other things to add to the confusion. When Auntie Mane declares that We Need A Little Christmas, nobody seems to remember that she's singing this in mid July. All part of her non conformist character.
And while it may not have been July as she sang it, Judy Garland is consoling her sister in Meet Me In St. Louis when she sings Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. And theres not a holly wreath or mistletoe anywhere in the shot.
All right, I'll admit that ones a stretch, since it is really about Christmas and all, but for a real creepy use of the song, check out the movie, The Victors. It uses Frank Sinatra's version of the song as musical background to an American Infantryman being shot by a firing squad. Hold my eggnog please.
Then there's the other sub gene of seasonal songs. The ones that get the whole Christmas experience wrong to begin with. When I sat on Jolly Old Saint Nicolis lap I never asked him to “whisper what you'll bring to me.” Every kid knows better than that. Did the writers of this song miss the whole dynamic of the Santa thing?
I'm always forgetting. Is the story of The Little Drummer Boy in Mathew or Luke?
And while we're on the subject of Gospel accuracy, Lets do a short deconstruction of Do You Here What I Hear. Lets see, night wind talks to lamb, okay, not in any Bible but it doesn't alter the story any. Neither does the conversation between the lamb and the sheepherder. But when we get to the part about the boy talking to the king, we head down a slippery slope. What happened to the Wise Men? And the king, who I assume must be Herod goes way off script and tells everybody to to “pray for peace”. Quite a far cry from the accepted version. Its like the composers were embarrassed over that killing the first born male child business.
Alright, in the spirit of full discloser, there's nothing in this song to suggest the action is taking place in Judea. It could be Devonshire England for all we know.
And here's a question of Three Kings, are they moving east or west? The Bible has them telling Herod that they saw his star in the east. That seems to mean the star was in the eastern sky. But the song says the star is westward leading.
I'm just asking.
And finally, my own personal nightmare, Old Red Nose Himself. Its obvious that the writer of these lyrics was not paid by the word. The WHOLE BLASTED STORY is told in one verse. One verse. No charterer development. No second act twist. Its so short in fact that every recording you've ever heard made up of that single anecdote, followed by a musical interlude. More often than not, that musical bridge is note for note the same as the first (and only) verse, and then the singer comes in and does it all over again.
I read somewhere that the song was commissioned by the Montgomery Ward people as a sales campaign. My personal theory is that the ad department had no typing paper and could only write their ideas on matchbook covers.
So what can I say, other than I'm just a guy with way too much time on his hands each Christmas.
And I'll leave you on that rant.