Christmas carols reviewed
December 7, 2005 11:27 AM   Subscribe

Christmas carols reviewed It's that time of year again for the Christmas Abstract: a music reviewer casts his ear upon tunes of the season. Mostly acerbic, but still interesting. Even includes dialog between Jesus and the Pottery Barn music director.
posted by forrest (20 comments total)
Thanks, I liked that. I especially liked the comment regarding A Charlie Brown Christmas.

I only wish they had a review of the underrated Christmas classic Fairytale of New York.
posted by dios at 11:39 AM on December 7, 2005

Opinion ≠ taste, wit, or knowledge.
posted by QuietDesperation at 12:35 PM on December 7, 2005

My favorite is "Fairytale of New York"
It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won't see another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you

Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I've got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

They've got cars big as bars
They've got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It's no place for the old
When you first took my hand
On a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me
Broadway was waiting for me

You were handsome
You were pretty
Queen of New York City
When the band finished playing
They howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging,
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night

The boys of the NYPD choir
Were singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day

You're a bum
You're a punk
You're an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it's our last

I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can't make it all alone
I've built my dreams around you
posted by mike3k at 12:41 PM on December 7, 2005

Ha ha mike3k you agree with dios!
(and I do too)
posted by I Foody at 1:00 PM on December 7, 2005

I, too, find myself agreeing with dios. It's the best Christmas song evar. I think I'll go home tonight and sing it to my sweetie over a mug of hot buttered gin.
posted by Floydd at 1:05 PM on December 7, 2005

I too agree with Dios. I just bought a compilation with that song on it, and every time it comes on I think "Damn, that's a good song." It's got everything. Pathos, joy, love, rage, booze, redemption.
posted by Miko at 1:46 PM on December 7, 2005

He also skipped "Good King Wenceslas"!

I find his brief explanation of his non-Christianity (under "Let It Snow") to be pretty intelligent. I like that he joins this to a disdain for secular Christmas songs and a (brief) defense of the religion in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Also, I think he gets it right in his explanation for how to sing (that "superior, magnificent power ballad") "O Holy Night". He's got a good sense for a song generally. And the included musicboy smartassedness tends more towards relevance than it does in a lot of similar things.
posted by nflorin at 1:52 PM on December 7, 2005

Earlier Christmas carol opinion threads: annoying, coolest.

Reviewer is obliquely wrong about Tubular Bells, but I, too, liked this link. S/he likes "Joy to the World"; dislikes "Sleigh Ride"; has decent taste.

Overlooked, unfortunately, is the excellent Gustav Holst arrangement of "On This Day, Earth Shall Ring." The Presbyterian hymnal has it (#46) in four parts; the Episcopal hymnal, in only the soprano (Grrrrrrr.....) I haven't seen it anywhere else.
posted by kurumi at 1:53 PM on December 7, 2005

I don't agree with all his judgments (he doesn't like "Angels We Have Heard on High"? he wants a power ballad interpretation of "O Holy Night"?), but I love that he's put thought into them.

And I really love that when it comes to "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen," he knows (a) that there is a comma and (b) that it goes after "merry."

In addition to being a critical thinker and SMRT in my book, he looks pretty good, too.
posted by booksandlibretti at 3:55 PM on December 7, 2005

Great analysis here.
posted by mek at 5:10 PM on December 7, 2005

He left the Coventry Carol off the list of the five greats. (Here's a MIDI version that sounds pretty close to a krummhorn consort.)
posted by Creosote at 5:55 PM on December 7, 2005

how could they leave out "All I Want for Christmas is You"???

(that's the only song i can stand to hear a million times--even the Mariah version)
posted by amberglow at 5:58 PM on December 7, 2005

Maybe he left the Coventry Carol off because of it's emphasis on the baby Jesus? He didn't seem to be a big proponent of brapholatry. (Oh goody, a new word! I love new words.)

I love the Coventry Carol too, but I'm not sure it's one of the five "greats." Even worse, one of my favorite versions of it is by Allison Moyet; my bet is that Tris McCall would hate it.
posted by jenii at 7:22 PM on December 7, 2005

Great analysis here.

From what I've seen so far, I agree... even though he mistakes Band Aid for Live Aid (see "Do They Know It's Christmas?").
posted by May Kasahara at 8:21 PM on December 7, 2005

Oooh, and Lennon for McCartney, so it seems-- see "Happy Christmas (War is Over)". Wonder how many more of these errors there are?
posted by May Kasahara at 8:26 PM on December 7, 2005

Bah, humbug. All I can add is that my pet hate with Christmas carols is saccharine choirs that chortle "Ha! Ha! Ha!" after the "Laughing as we go" line in Jingle Bells.
posted by raygirvan at 8:41 PM on December 7, 2005

Oooh, and Lennon for McCartney, so it seems-- see "Happy Christmas (War is Over)". Wonder how many more of these errors there are?

No error. He's saying that it's Paul that's supposed to be responsible for dreck like this, not John. Which is what makes it all the more disappointing.
posted by mazola at 8:55 PM on December 7, 2005

Oh, and it's a good list too. Especially the entries for Frosty the Snowman and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.
posted by mazola at 8:56 PM on December 7, 2005

I prefer listening to music in a language I don't understand, since 99.9% of all lyrics ever written are extremely friggin STUPID.
posted by HTuttle at 10:50 PM on December 7, 2005

[This is AWESOME.]

Seriously. I can't say enough good things about how this is written. The author is funny, articulate, and modern, critical where criticism is needed, reverent where reverence is needed. I may disagree with some rankings, but I've enjoyed reading this as much as anything I've seen on the web for a long time.

Excellent post, forrest. Best of the web indeed.
posted by weston at 6:18 PM on December 9, 2005

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