Variety is the Spice of Life: Christmas Music

Variety is the Spice of Life: Christmas Music December 11, 2017

If variety is the spice of love and music is the food of love, most of us get an unvaried diet.

However you define it, not many of us listen to classical music. If you like blue grass, you might avoid all modern country. My friends who appreciate hip hop may turn away from any pop. The fights I have generated between jazz musicians and rock musicians were highly educational! All of us tend to get stuck listening to the music of your youth. If you love Total Eclipse of the Heart, you are about my age and we are to be pitied.

My wife, and now my daughter, educate me musically all year!
My wife, and now my daughter, educate me musically all year!

Christmas does a hard thing: it forces most of us to listen to genres we do not usually hear from eras long dead to us. Bing Crosby, one of the greatest entertainment talents in American history, would be unheard if he had not recorded the number one song of all time: White Christmas. If you have time, take a listen to early Bing, watch a Road movie (Road to Utopia) that created a type of buddy comedy, and catch the crooner in Going My Way. When you are done with that culturally broadening task, sit and listen to the entire Messiah, not just the Hallelujah Chorus. Try some Celtic music for Christmas and a Russian service for the holiday. Take a listen to Canadian Brass and listen to serious musicians have some fun. And yes, dearling, All I Want for Christmas is You . . . and Madden 2017.

At the end of Christmas, we are, perhaps, weary of some tunes as they get too much play time. Find some less common songs and read the words or drink in the music. I love Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming. Christmas broadens our language as well, since in these songs we listen to some English that is now archaic, but is often full of good words (jollification!) that we have lost in daily use. Perhaps the best investment you could make is in the Episcopal hymn book of 1940 and sit and read the Advent and Christmas music. Sing what you can. Take a listen to Good King Wensceslas  and remind yourself this Christmas of a basic Christian truth:

Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye, who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing.

Looking for a good gift? Try buying lessons for a child who wishes them and help rent the instrument for you. If it “takes,” you will have transformed a life. You could always learn yourself and in the year of our Lord 2018 the trombone and I have a date.

Avoid some Christmas music. Really.

As Christmas comes to an end, I am vowing to keep up diverse listening. In my case, that means working through the top twenty every so often, continuing my opera education, and finding all the types of jazz there are. None of that will make me an expert and I will still go back to my standards for comfort, but just as the most beautiful Christmas tree is often a hodgepodge of ornaments from years of family life, so variety in my music is spice to my life.

Music is the food of love, variety is the spice of life, play on!


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