Niagara Gazette


January 19, 2014

SINGER: A fond farewell to Christmas music

Niagara Gazette — Should I be predictably negative about Christmas music we’ve heard repetitively on radio or in malls, and finally gone for another year, after playing on certain stations since well before Thanksgiving? Sorry, but I don’t feel negative about this Niagara of recorded chestnuts many have valued this cozy, white-petalling time of year.

The weather mainly cooperated from at least mid-November, including a lovely, snowy Thanksgiving time, and ski areas opening a month earlier than usual; followed by generous thumps of lake effect, a few days of heavy, wipe-out rain circa Dec. 20 (geese who sold short by staying home briefly vindicated), and the bent, arthritic trees of ice events. But there was a fuller, providential return of winter for Dec. 25 and beyond. All of which made the old song “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” (done by a variety of artists) work from early on this mostly cold season.

When it comes to a melding of rock and Christmas, two of my favorites (both played plentifully) have been Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” and the Eagles’ “Please Come Home for Christmas.” Both are good, vibrant tunes, the former quicker and more pulsing, the latter wham-whamming at you more slowly, but now classically.

Both show how important significant others (along with friends and family) become at this time of year. But as Mr. Hemingway once said, messages ought to be kept to Western Union (nowadays email); and while there are certainly messages in both those songs, the whole renditions are what count, impelling people — at least me — to turn up the volume.

Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree” is obviously classic, too, but it’s been played too often for my taste. However, I still love the Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick,” from their own and rock’s comparative youth — quintessential Brian Wilson, before he devolved into a drug-crippled mess (and was also bypassed by new musical developments), then resurfaced via recovery and nostalgia.

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