Niagara Gazette


January 19, 2014

SINGER: A fond farewell to Christmas music


Niagara Gazette — There are many others who contributed to this Christmas music bonanza — Andy and Bing, Vanessa and the Carpenters, you name it. By the way, what do you think of these FM computer read-outs in newer cars, telling you simply that it’s Bruce you’re hearing, or Nat or Dean? My own answer to that technological largesse is both a yes of approval, and a traditionalist’s no ...

Of course there’s more sacred fare much heard this time of year, including at live events. Funny: winter’s a season you think you won’t enjoy when summer’s at its height; then it sneaks up on you with ponderous, timeless, twinkling beauty, and again, with those recordings heard so repetitively mostly enhancing, rather than detracting from the overall effect.

Literally and figuratively, there’s something cold about the season, no question; but just as surely, something very warm, too (fires used to help greatly, except when Scrooges skimped on coal, and now the miracle of good heating systems, along with hot chocolate and sweaters).

Christmas followed by New Years and post-New Years is winter, winter is Christmas and the new year — it works both ways; and those songs — many minted in an older Manhattan — reflect it.

Of course I shouldn’t simply shunt away the contributions of other regions. When you hear Gene Autry singing with a western twang about “Santy Claus,” well, it still works, as does Ms. Lee’s southern lilt on the tune mentioned above, or Bobby Helms’ country sound on “Jingle Bell Rock.”

Certainly those songs bring back memories of where you were when you first heard them, which for most of us was in early childhood. But hey, Christmas time more than other periods of the year is indeed, a time for memories and digesting one’s past; and even post-New Years resolutions kept, then broken give one cause for sober reflection, too. In sum, those songs have been a big part of it all, though new ones with fine arrangements don’t seem so forthcoming. (Plenty of cover versions, however…)  

B.B. Singer has taught at several colleges in the area, including Niagara University.

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