Last night we had a rehearsal of the Vivaldi Gloria, some Britten carols, and assorted other lovely music. At work, we have just begun to play a little Christmas music, in deference to our Christmas shoppers. And the day after Thanksgiving, I will begin playing Christmas music here at home.
Many people complain about Christmas music in November. For some, it is a matter of religious scruples. For others, it is a matter of not wanting to rush the seasons. How can we fully celebrate Thanksgiving, they reason, when we are already singing Christmas songs? There are others, though, who just get sick of Christmas music.They complain a lot in November, but they will still be complaining in December, too.
Some of them may be Scrooges, but most, I think, have a simple problem: they don’t know enough Christmas music. They have only one Christmas album (maybe N Sync, or the Chipmunks), and they only know five carols. No wonder they get sick of them. Personally, I don’t want to hear Brittany Spears singing “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” even one more time. And “Little Drummer Boy” had better watch its step.
Are you thinking, at this point, that this does not apply to you because you do not celebrate Christmas? Think again. People who complain about Christmas music are complaining about what we might call the involuntary stuff. You hear it everywhere you go. In a store recently, the workers begged me to fill out a comment card saying the music was too loud in hopes that the management would allow them to turn it down. If you live in the U.S., you are subjected to Christmas music whether you like it or not.
In order to help with this problem, I want to offer you a new Christmas song every day between now and Christmas. This will serve as an antidote. When you have “Little Drummer Boy” stuck in your head, you will have an alternative. When someone wants to rope you into a sing-along of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” you can propose something else. I will begin with one that is so secular that even the strictest observer of Advent can’t be offended. (Advent hasn’t begun yet, anyway.) It talks about frosted windowpanes, candles gleaming, candy canes, and falling in love.
The song in question is “The Christmas Waltz” by Cahn and Styne ( here it is with guitar chords: http://www.theguitarguy.com/christm2.htm ). It has been recorded by a number of famous people, but was written in 1954 for Frank Sinatra. I had never heard of it till last year, when #2 daughter decided that we should sing it for a variety show type of do that we help out with each year. It is easy to find the words on the internet (in fact, you can find it with references to Santa’s “slay” which adds an unusual element), but I have not been able to find a Midi file. You will therefore need to find sheet music or a recording in order to add it to your repertoire. Don’t worry; you have plenty of time.
It took several days for me to track down the sheet music and a recording of the thing, but it was worth it. You can find it in Hal Leonard’s The Best Christmas Songs Ever. Rosemary Clooney has recorded it, as have Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, and Nat King Cole, as well as Nathalie Cole. There is even an Afro-Cuban jazz rendition available. It is a late representative of the songs written during a sort of renaissance of Christmas music that took place in the 1930s through 1950s and brought us most of the modern Christmas classics such as “White Christmas” and “I Wonder as I Wander,” (collected and arranged in 1933).
Once you learn it, you will be humming it and possibly also dancing to it. It is a really nice song, a sweet and jazzy little piece with a catchy tune. There are lifts after the first notes of most of the lines, giving it a dreamy sort of sound, very romantic. You will find it suitable for your guitar, piano, and saxophone, and of course for singing. Tuba players should restrain themselves, but I think an oboe, clarinet, or even a trumpet would be fine.
In addition to finding and learning the “Christmas Waltz,” you should be defrosting your Thanksgiving turkey. If you aren’t already doing this, you probably aren’t going to cook the turkey anyway, but rather just to eat it. In that case, you need make no preparations. You will thus have more time to devote to the “Christmas Waltz.”