Thursday, November 30, 2006

Holiday Tag -- You're It!

My blog friend Ipanema tagged me to participate in a little holiday game, where you list (at least) five of your favorite Christmas songs -- and then tag (at least) five other of your blog friends to do the same on their sites. If I haven't tagged you, but you would still like to list your favorites, please do.

First, my favorites:

1. The Harry Simeone Chorale's performance of "The Little Drummer Boy." There's something about this song that I've loved my entire life; perhaps it dates back to hearing my parents play the recording of it from their Reader's Digest collection of great Christmas songs.

2. Not really a carol per se, but I love any recording of "The Virgin Slumber Song," a piece written by the late-19th/early-20th century German composer Max Reger. I love this song so much, in fact, that I convinced my wife to allow a friend to perform it at our December wedding ten years ago. You can listen to a small sample of it here -- just click the link next to it in the album summary.

3. "Coventry Carol," a beautiful 16th-century English piece. Again, click the song's link here.

4. "O Little Town of Bethlehem," particulary when it's being sung at a midnight Christmas Eve service in the cold air by just the choir and congregation, with no instrumental accompaniment whatsoever.

5. Nat King Cole's rendition of "The Christmas Song."

And now, my tagged friends:

Julie, of Julie Unplugged;

Dave, of Pomoxian;

Karen, of The Sword's Still Out;

Patchouli, of Patchouli Ponderings; and

Trace, of Tracing My Steps.

Have fun with this, and Merry (early) Christmas!


Dave said...

My favorite Christmas recordings tend toward the secular, actually. I like singing the traditional Christmas songs or hearing them sung live by various choirs and whatnot, but recorded versions of Christmas carols don't really do much for me. So my picks are more pop entertainment than they are spiritually reflective. So here they are as they come to mind.

1. "Christmas Time is Here Again" by the Beatles. This recording is found on the "Free As A Bird" single released in 1994, a composite of some old fan club singles they released in the 60's. I play it every Christmas morning before we open our gifts.

2. "I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas" by Barry Gordon. A novelty song from 1956, sung by a naughty boy who "ain't been nuttin' but bad." I listened to this song when I was a little kid and have always loved it.

3. "Happy Xmas War is Over" by John and Yoko. It's optimistic and realistic at the same time.

4. I'm going to cheat here and say the entire "Elvis' Christmas Album" (the one he released in 1957) because it's simply great. But if I had to pick one song, I'll go with "Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)" because his voice is so amusing and merry on that tune.

5. A Christmas CD that I discovered last year and has been getting play around my house lately is Mark Mothersbaugh's "Joyeux Mutato." Mothersbaugh is the former front man for Devo and has done pretty well for himself in recent years as a soundtrack composer. This music was created for an art installation sometime in the 90's and got released in 2000. He mutates traditional Christmas carols and wintry sounds into a delightfully skewed take on the holiday tradition. "Blue Joy" incorporates bits of "Joy to the World," outs it through a postmodern deconstruction and arrives at a charming new synthesis. It may be hard to find but I think it's worth the search.

ipanema said...

Great list! Thanks for playing along. :)

julieunplugged said...

Hi Matt.

Ugh! I am so not a fan of Christmas music I couldn't even think of one song to start off the list! I think I would put Amy Grant's "O Little town of Bethlehem" as my favorite changed piece of Christmas music.

There must be some gene deficient in my make-up because I am embarassed by the fact that Christmas songs do not make my spirit soar. :)

I don't mind them as background to cookie icing, tree trimming and general holiday good cheer at a party. But to listen to them? Not my thing. To sing? Even less.

We own exactly two CDS: Kenny G and NSync's Christmas. Isn't that pathetic? :)

Thanks for the invite, but another "tag" would be better next time.


Patry Francis said...

"O, Little Town of Bethlehem" was always a huge favorite of mine. It contains such lovely stillness.