Not sure how I managed to pull it off, but I’ve made it to Thanksgiving this year without hearing a single Christmas carol.
And if I have any say in the matter, the first Christmas music I will hear today will be the soundtrack from Charlie Brown’s Christmas. It’s by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, and if you ask me, the perfect way to jumpstart the ole holiday spirit.
Everyone knows the theme song, which is titled “Linus and Lucy,” but some of my fellow old-timers might also remember the 1963 hit “Cast Your Faith to the Wind.” That too was Vince Guaraldi.
My daughter always places a moratorium on Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving. Not sure I can avoid all Christmas music today, but I wouldn’t mind turning Black Friday into Red and Green Friday. We’ll see.
Whether it’s today or tomorrow, though, once the carols begin, that’s about all I’ll listen to for the next month. My favorites I’ll play over and over.
If you are interested, those favorites begin with “Good King Wenceslas.”
A beautiful narrative set to music, it opens with the good king looking out of his castle window and seeing a poor man trudging through the snow. He asks his page if he knows this man and the page says he does. He lives a good distance away and is probably foraging for firewood.
With that, Good King Wenceslas swings into action, as the lyrics explain:
“Bring me flesh, and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither: Thou and I shall see him dine, when we bear them thither. Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together; Through the rude wind’s wild lament and the bitter weather. Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger; Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer. Mark my footsteps, good my page. Tread thou in them boldly Thou shalt find the winter’s rage freeze thy blood less coldly. In his master’s steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted; Heat was in the very sod
which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing, Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.”
I have yet to hear this song this year, except in my head, but rest assured I will be playing it aplenty.
Close behind on my list of favorite holiday tunes is the duet of Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing “Little Drummer Boy” interspersed with “Peace on Earth.” I heard this the very first time it was performed. That was on a Bing Crosby Christmas special in 1977 and I fell in love with it instantly.
What an odd combination it was to see the young, let’s say “different” Bowie with the legendary crooner Bing. I later read Bowie said he agreed to do it because “my mother loved him.” I also learned that Bowie, along with a few collaborators, wrote the “Peace on Earth” part of the song.
For the record, I really miss those old holiday TV specials.
I won’t bore you with my entire list of favorite carols but I will mention two others.
First, the Johnny Mathis version of “What Child is This?”
If I get to Heaven and God asks who wants to sing in the Christmas program, “I do!” I’ll yell. But then add, “Only, however, if I can sing ‘What Child is This?’ exactly like Johnny Mathis.”
The Creator of the Universe surely can grant even me the ability to carry a tune.
The second is a carol I suspect few of you have ever heard. It’s “Out of the East,” written by Harry Noble. You can find it on You Tube. I always picture it being sung by a children’s choir. (Yes, that’s a challenge, Brandon Jopling.)
Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist every week. Look for his blogs online during the week at pittstonprogress.com.