Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Season's Upon Us, It's That Time of Year...

Ah, the music of Christmas, and yes, the title of today's post was inspired by those boys from Quincy (pronounced Kwin-zee, don't ask, it's near Boston, they talk funny up there...), The Dropkick Murphys. But before we listen to that song and watch the video, said activity now being a holiday tradition here at The Chant, let's review some of the Christmas tunes that I like. (You can tell me yours in the comments, via email, smoke signal, Pony Express, etc. You, Dear Readers, always have a voice here. Why, I even listen most of the time.)

Oh, while I'm on the topic, note those angels in the opening painting. They're playing music, they're in Heaven (I presume) so why do they look so gloomy? I guess that back in the 1480s, when the painting was done, everyone was gloomy. Pious and gloomy. The Middle Ages wasn't noted for having fun in Europe. I mean, it was all so  medieval and gloomy, ya know? What's more, from my own experience of the 60s and 70s, the angels all look like that hippy chick who went by the name "Galadriel" back in the day. Only thinner and far more gloomy. I assume the angels are female, which may be presumptuous of me. I've been known to presume far more than the existing facts might allow. But come on, no facial hair? What a giveaway!


Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent. I did attend services upon that day, The Missus Herself was absent for reasons you might know. As it was also Communion Sunday, I felt even more duty bound to be present. In the past one of the hymns we would always sing on the first Sunday of Advent was this one -

Which is a superb version of the song by The Piano Guys. That is one Christmas song which always triggers the old allergies here at Chez Sarge. I may be a cantankerous old bastid at times but I have a sentimental streak a mile wide. (Yes, sentimental, not mental.)

Well, when I got to my pew (yes, I have a pew, all the way in the back, it's not labeled, but folks know not to sit there, more on that in a bit) Sunday last, I perused the bulletin, no mention anywhere of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. 'Twas not amused I was, not at all.

Now I know what you're thinking, "Come on Sarge, you're in church, you shouldn't get bent out of shape over what hymns you're singing that Sunday." (In truth though, singing is not exactly what I do. Only in the very loosest terms can what I do be called singing. More of a "joyful noise" if you will. Which is fitting and proper but, as some might say, "Not so loud Sarge, not so loud. We don't want people to think we slaughter water buffalo at divine services...")

But that song is kinda sorta what Christmas is all about, at least to me it is. But, I am but one of many, so I resolved to suffer in silence. But 'lo and behold, during the offering the organist played, you guessed it, O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Tradition was upheld, "my" song was played, and no one had to wonder if large aquatic bovine creatures were being slaughtered within the confines of our wee stone chapel. Can't have the neighbors worrying now, can we?

So Sarge, what other Christmas tunes do you like? Why thank you, I'm glad you asked.

Bing Crosby was always a favorite singer at the Ancient Family Home and Der Bingle (as he was called in those days, no, not the days of Caesar Augustus, I'm not that old) had a number of popular Christmas songs over the years.

Now if you are of a certain age, you might think you know which of Der Bingle's Christmas songs is my favorite, it is, after all, the favorite of many folks, at least it used to be before the Age of Political Correctness. Not sure if it still is.

Nope, while White Christmas is a favorite of mine, it's not my favorite Bing Crosby song of Christmas. No, that honor goes to I'll Be Home for Christmas.

Now back in the day I really related to this song, being single and alone overseas will do that for you, I also had a calendar one year, might have been in Germany, which depicted military aircraft for each month of the year. (Wow, surprised you there didn't I? Or not.)

December's entry triggered a few allergies. It showed a B-17 of the 8th Air Force flying low over a snow-covered home decorated for Christmas, it was captioned "I'll be home for Christmas" with a note mentioning the thousands of GIs fighting in Europe and the Pacific in World War II, all probably dreaming of home around the holidays. I've looked for that artwork ever since, still haven't found what I'm looking for...

(Nope, not a segue into a U2 song, but I do like the tune, has nothing to do with Christmas, well, if you think about it, maybe it does...)

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of Bing Crosby Christmas songs that I really, really like. Well, except maybe for Mele Kalikimaka which never felt very Christmas-y to me. Perhaps because I have trouble associating Christmas with Hawaii. Too warm. The tune is awfully catchy though, just not my cup of tea.

I could probably do a dozen posts on Bing Crosby Christmas songs, don't worry though, I'm not going to.

But ya know, the season is upon us and, well, take it away boys!

I love that song. It's funny and brings back a lot of found memories. Not that my family was anything like that.

Well, maybe a little...

Oh yeah, "my" pew. I almost forgot!

When The Missus Herself and I first began going to church on Sundays, we were new, we knew no one, so I decided we'd sit all the way in the back. Hoping I guess that no one would notice us and that we could slip in and out unnoticed. Fat chance of that, the folks at my church are very warm and welcoming. They noticed us, they actually engaged us in conversation. All before I could run away and hide. No, The Missus Herself grasping my arm and muttering "Move and you're a dead man." had nothing to do with it...

Anyhoo, we continued to sit there, though one Sunday some of the kids decided to sit way up back so they could goof around, I guess. When we entered, The Missus Herself started to drag me to another pew, but I just stopped and looked at the kids. One of whom said, "Hahaha, we're sitting here today!"

It's odd how quickly they vacated "my" pew.

All I did was growl.

Did I get a few odd looks that day? You betcha.

How is that different from any other day?


  1. Well thanks for that musical interlude. You got me off on The Piano Guys for 30+ minutes. Picked up their this year's Christmas CD last week. Love the piano and classical strings. We also have 'our' pew at church for as long as I can remember.


    This version of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" from the TV show JAG is the one that hits home. Brings back memories and emotions of my childhood. Dad was Air Force and not a pilot, but that video and the way the song is done puts me right back living on base as a child (at Clark and many others) in the late 60s and early 70s. Tightens up everything inside and brings back that is Dad or Mikes Dad going to make it home in time or at all from whatever TDY they were on this time of year

    1. Nice version. Bob Hope always brings back memories. And well, let's be honest, you had me at "Catherine Bell."

      Good stuff Don.

    2. Saw her the other night in one of the Hallmark Christmas movies.

  3. I enjoy listening to music. My music talents? Not so much.

    My wife is our church's choir director, and many years ago she said that if I attended choir practice we would stop and get an ice cream cone on the way home. After choir practice she told me that if I agreed to never come back to choir practice I could have a double dip ice cream cone. The tone deafness existed long before my military caused hearing loss.

    I have always thought the Judy Garland version of 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' is almost unbearably poignant.

    Damn pollen.

    In addition to The Piano Guys, give 2Cellos a listen.

    1. I'm a big fan of 2Cellos, brilliant musicians.

      Concur on Judy's rendition of that song. Pollen indeed.

    2. The double dip cone comment got me to chuckling. Thanks. I'm in a similar boat. I tend to just hum in church.

    3. Heh, so we're all sorta challenged in the singing department.

  4. I like the song. I have the family so I don't need anymore but our gathering last week was epically good.
    Who else do you know that would write epically?

    Went to a little church in Del Mar when I was church shopping with new bride and they had the damned nerve to pick us to carry the collection baskets up and down the aisles on our first and only visit. We didn't ever go back. I felt more comfortable with the church where my darling daughter leaned in and bit me on the nose during the sermon.

    If blood needs to be shed, ....

    1. It's nice when they want you to be a part of the family, but really, they made you schlep the collection baskets? I would probably still be running.

      I know of no one else who would write epically Cap'n. :)

  5. Christmas allergies he sez. All righty then. This one does it for me---

    Another favorite is this CD by Manheim Steamroller--

    --on which you will find this version of 'Silent Night'--

  6. I love Christmas Carols, sung properly, on beat, no warbling, no fancy stuff, just... sing, darned it.

    Christmas songs of a particular era can get me going. Really any song from the golden age of Crooners and real Singers. Even Gene Autry singing "Rudolph." Except for "Santa Baby," which is the "Ring my Bell (disco era horrible song, later made into an even more horrible 'rap' piece of c rap) of Christmas songs. Sorry, Marilyn, but you scored no points with that one.

    Modern singers and their ever more painful attempts at singing the 'old' stuff make me want to kill. Screwed up time signature, sliding scales, warbling, rapping, all that 'modern' touch, just ruins it for me.

    Same with most modern songs, including that insipid piece of dog squeeze from the asses of Lennon and Yoko-nutjob-Ono. You know which one it is. I am not mentioning it here. Yeah, the Christmas song version of the daughter of Henry Fonda. That's how much I hate it. I hates it. HATES IT!!!

    Actually, there are some nice Christmas songs, found on Hallmark movies. Now I wish I could hear those instead of the latest from BeyonceAyeeshaWhatevera.

    "Oh, Holy Night" sung properly is one of my favorites. When the singer(s) reaches(reach) the "Fall on Your Knees, and Hear the Angels Voices" line, it really does knock me to my knees. And makes me cry.

    Shubert's "Ave Maria" may not technically be a 'Christmas' song, but to me it is. And my wedding song (Dec. 20th, church was already decorated for some strange reason and Grandma was already in town.) It has always been one that, sung properly, transcends me to another, higher place.

    "Silent Night" done either with one singer and a guitar (the original way, and in German, too) or spiffied up with organ and a choir, definitely one to make me teary.

    Oh, basically any old Carol, the type sung pre-Vatican II, in Latin or English, will get me in the holiday crying spirit.

    The best version of "Oh Tannenbaum" I ever heard was surprisingly sung on the "Southpark Christmas album" by 'Hitler' right before "Christmas in Hell." Sad, poignant, how I imagined many Germans spent their Christmases in 1916-17 or from 43-44.

    Okay, the Southpark album has some really funny and good songs. Profane, abusive, but good. Especially the "Merry F*$^ing Christmas" song, which is all about not being politically correct and saying "Happy Holidays" or some other PC bullscat.

    My wife quietly singing "Grandma got runover by a reindeer" so low that the actual Grandma could not hear allowed our family to survive Grandma one Christmas when she was on a real mean-streak. (Yes, that grandma, the one that punched out Woody Hayes. Love her, but she was ocassionally 'difficult' in family situations (and the primary reason me and Mrs. Andrew got married in December, as we wouldn't have to put up with hearing about how we made her fly across country to see me get married. Love her, but spite was strong in that one. Yeesh. Love you, Grandma, miss you, hope you're happier upstairs.)

    And back to the traditional songs. Josh Groban can sing just about anything and make it sound wonderful. Love that guy's voice, and especially love that he likes singing stuff as it was written.

    Traditional Christmas Carols, sung properly. Can't say it enough.

    Good post, Sir.

    1. I'm a traditionalist myself, particularly Der Bingle's Adeste Fideles, there's something about Latin.

      Oh Holy Night, sung properly, always tears me up. Without fail...

    2. My Maternal Grandfather only sang O Holy Night once a year, Christmas Eve. He had an amazing tenor voice and no kidding would have rivaled any professional singer with his version. And, THAT would be why it's my favorite Christmas Carol.

    3. And it's a good one indeed!

      (I heard Julie Andrews do that song on the TV a number of years ago, it became a favorite that very day!)

  7. Mele Kalikimaka, even Hawaii, on Christmas, is a stretch. (DAMHIK)
    That said, Don Ho did it best.

    1. TB was the post commander's favorite song when I was on Kwajalein. So, accordingly, the post radio station played that damned song every 4th time.

      One friggin radio station, for 2 damned years.

      Haaaaaaaaate that song. HAAAAAAAAAATE IT!

    2. Oh dear. That must have been torture. What was the CO thinking?

    3. TB hadn't made it yet.
      It wasn't released until '66.
      I was remembering '62.

    4. Ah, I was 9 in 1962, I may have been on Surfin' Safari at the time, with The Twist.


    5. What was the Army Commander thinking? That he was the Post Commander.

      Considering some of the stupid stuff base and post commanders have done (Oh, Sir, the bridge is out due to flooding. NO, It isn't, I'm the base commander! So long, say hello to the fishes...) just having symcophants play that damned song all the time isn't the worse. Now that I think about it, it probably was some junior officer or NCO with too much time on board getting their just rewards against the commander. Who knows? All I know is it ruined TB (the song, not the sickness) for me for all times.

      Oh, well.

    6. Yeah, that can happen. One thing though, I've had that frigging song in my head all day!

    7. Funny, I've had "Oh Holy Night" running through mine. Yay, go my mind. Keep me off of TB.

    8. Good song to have stuck in your head.

  8. Ah, Dropkick Murphys! The season is upon us indeed! Think I'll go deck the halls! (Or haul the deck!)

  9. I didn't realize the Murphys were from Quincy. I grew up next town to the south. I still talk wicked good even though I don't live up north no more.

    I do not care for the hymns that my new church down south plays. Catholic church, same country, you'd think that the music would be decent, with some nods to tradition. Nope. Not a Te Deum to be found. I don't know no Protestant songs, but I'm pretty sure that's what I've been hearing.

    1. Something is wrong with the Florida Dioceses. They all went soft in the head. I barely recognize the servicea, let alone the music any more.

    2. Probably are, how far down south?

      I like your blog by the way, wicked good indeed!

    3. Andrew, how did you sneak that comment in whilst I was a'typing? Damn, you're fast!

    4. Meh, learned to type on a manual. I last got clocked doing about 90wpm. And I was during a commercial.

      Paul, Dammit is homeported down in the Mijami area. I be in the Diocese of St. Augustine area (Gainesville, hwack-sptut.) And I miss the more conservative church of my youth.

    5. Wow, I had to rescue this comment from the spam filter. Must be something about Florida.

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