Virtual Musical Advent Calendar, December 1 : God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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15 Responses

  1. NewDealer says:

    As a Jewish person, this time of year is always interesting to me. There is some Christmas music I like (example: Little Drummer Boy as sung by David Bowie and Bing Crosby)* and I do have some fond memories of this season. When I lived in New York, this was the time of year hailed farmers from Vermont coming down and setting up shop with very small pine trees. I used to walk by one street seller at night on the way home from grad school and loved getting hit with the scent of pine. Thanksgiving-New Years Eve is also the time when winter is good in New York. It gets cold but not too cold and it is nice to walk briskly outside and then step inside to a cafe or apartment and have it be nice and warm and toasty**.

    But I never quite understand how my non-Jewish friends start chomping at the bit for Christmas sometime between Halloween-Thanksgiving. I see facebook updates that are about trying to not listen to Christmas Music until Thanksgiving or put up decorations. It sometimes seems like a lot of people try to jam pack this time with all their happiness for the year. I loved Hannukah as a kid and lighting the Menorah and Latkes but it was not something I waited for with super eager anticipation.

    *The other songs I tend to like are a bit ironic like Fairytale of New York by the Pogues and Father Christmas by the Kinks. White Christmas is one of the most misunderstood songs of the 20th century. You have to understand that it was written by a poor Jewish immigrant (Irving Berlin nee Israel Isidore Beilin). He spent his childhood in the tenaments on the Lower East Side during a time when open anti-Semitism was an outright acceptable activity. Any New Yorker can tell you that snow does not stay white in the city for a long time. It quickly becomes a depressing, gray mush. Think of that biography when listening to the song.

    **January and February are the worst in the Northeast.Report

  2. Miss Mary says:

    That was really fun. Thanks for sharing 🙂Report

  3. J@m3z Aitch says:

    Great start, Todd. Last year I bought hours worth of Christmas music on ITunes so we could listen to Christmas music all day on Christmas without hearing any dreck (as subjectively defined, of course). I’ll be adding some new selections this year, based on you introducing me to some versions I’ve not encountered before. (Although I’m not sure I can tell my mom that particular band’s name.)Report

  4. Will Truman says:

    Last year I bought hours worth of Christmas music on ITunes


    And don’t give me…

    so we could listen to Christmas music all day on Christmas without hearing any dreck

    Because that’s like saying “I want to watch only the quality episodes of Touched By An Angel.”

    (Bah, humbug.)Report

    • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Will Truman says:

      OK, Will, the good news is that you’re forewarned. If I mistakenly invite you over for Christmas, you should respectfully (or disrespectfully, depending on just how much you hate Christmas music) decline. Maybe Thanksgiving or New Years would be a better option.Report

  5. Maribou says:

    You started with one of my all-time favorites (specifically the BNL version – those swung eighth notes have a long high school jazz band arrangement tradition, although my friends who are band directors tell me the BNL version quickly eclipsed all others 😀 ). Love the jig, too!

    In Atlantic Canada, where I grew up, GRYMG *always* sounded more like Martha’s Trouble (which I just purchased, thank you!) and not like the hymn arrangements… even in church. Whatever pretense of Orderly Respectability, and imprecations of the choir director to the choir/band, might’ve been veneered over the first verse were thoroughly demolished by verse 3 or 4 – the lilting / thumping of the actual tune, and people’s experiences of singing it at home, always won out. That was especially fun in the huge, vaulted-ceiling basilica…Report

  6. LeeEsq says:

    Tod, if I may make a humble suggestion. On December 12th, you should write about “The Twelve Days of Christmas” just because its the 12th. Thank you kindly in advance if you decide to do so.Report

  7. Slade the Leveller says:

    That BNL version is awesome! Here’s one that’s also in the joyous spirit that’s even more uptempo, even surfy. This tune has made the cut on the annual Sherlock musical Christmas card.

  8. Anne says:

    Tod this is a great series and I am looking forward to the next eleven posts. In Oklahoma the first day of Christmas is when you hear this