Jamie has spoken out against insipid Christmas songs. Yesterday’s song of the day, “Suzy Snowflake,” came under fire, and also “Frosty the Snowman,” as well as one I’ve never heard and now don’t want to, called “Christmas Shoes.”
Many people hate Christmas music (not Jamie; she just objects to the insipid songs). Most of you are not looking at the sheet music, as I am, and thinking about how it could be arranged. “The Christmas Waltz” sung by Frank Sinatra is a different experience from the same song done by The Carpenters. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by The Jackson Five is actually pretty cute, if you don’t get sad just listening to the young Michael Jackson knowing what would become of him. The most commonly heard recording of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” right now is by a girl who sounds as though she is bravely continuing her song in spite of excruciating stomach cramps. These things affect the enjoyment of the music.
But I think the main problem is the lack of variety. Jamie says that you will hear “Suzy Snowflake” a couple of times if you listen to the Christmas radio station for a bit. A couple of times? In the course of the hour or so that you might listen to that? “Suzy Snowflake” can be a once-a-year pleasure.”Frosty the Snowman” might be enjoyable once in a decade if Ella Fitzgerald were singing it for us.
Unfortunately, most of the people who are subjected to Christmas music against their wills are listening to the same thing over and over and over. And often it is something like “Frosty the Snowman” sung by the Chipmunks. While they are trying to work or conduct conversations. No wonder so many people say they hate Christmas music!
This is why, at this time of year, I like to offer you a song a day, as an antidote to the horrible and repetitive stuff causing you to dislike Christmas music in general.
Today let me offer you “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” which is not insipid in the least. The words are by Longfellow and the tune by John Calkin, which lets you know that this song is not from the 20th century Christmas song renaissance, but from the previous upsurge of holiday tunes which took place in the Victorian era. It’s good poetry with a sweet and plaintive tune, and not as well-known as it should be.
Still, this song has been recorded by Harry Belafonte — well, and by other people, but really, just listen to Belafonte.
Or sing it yourself. This can be a good anti-war song played with guitar. Click here for the tab. Or play it on your trumpet. This is a great song for brass.