Hark! Guaraldi Angels Sing!
December 19, 2005
No, friends, there is no War on ChristmasTM being carried out on this weblog. Christmas time is here and, in observance of that fact, please permit me to offer you not one, but two, versions of, well, "Christmastime Is Here."
I refer of course to the song Vince Guaraldi wrote and recorded lo! those forty years ago for 1965's A Charlie Brown Christmas. And in these edgy times what could be more appropriate than an unequivocally secular Christmas song from an animated television special that itself gives pride of place to young Linus' absolutely sincere recitation of the biblical Christmas narrative? (Charlie Brown as a whole is a rather more sophisticated meditation on the cross-pollination of the sacred and the commercial in the Contemporary American Christmas than is offered by many of the pundits on either side of this year's recurrence of the supposed War on the holiday. [No no, I don't mean you, David.] And am I the only person who, when he wishes someone "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" or "Seasons' Greetings," has always thought more of the precipitous arrival of the New Year on Christmas' heels than of "political correctness"? But I digress. Here, then, are the promised performances:)
First, a 2004 recording from The Silent League, an orchestral-pop project headed up by Mercury Rev veteran Justin Russo:
- The Silent League - Christmastime Is Here [MP3 link]
- Also available for download, with other examples of the League's work, directly from the band's site.
Second, a somewhat more abstracted and drifty 2005 version from the Atlanta-based band Snowden:
- Snowden - Christmastime Is Here
- This comes from a 4-song freely-downloadable EP, Licorice, that is available from the band through the link above or here. The EP includes two more secular seasonal selections -- John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" and Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" -- in moody, woozy renditions, as well as a non-holiday song, "China Light." None of these is calculated to cheer you up, but they are just the thing if you like your music in a melancholy vein.
Diana Krall also has a very nice version of the Guaraldi song on her recently released Christmas Songs CD.
The wife and I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas last night, a yearly tradition in our interfaith home. As a gentle screed (is that an oxymoron?) against the commercialization of the season and a reminder of the true meaning of the holiday, it is more true today than ever.
Posted by: Rick | December 20, 2005 at 07:34 AM