Carpenters Christmas: The Definitive Christmas album?

Matthew Stokes

Matthew Stokes is a writer and college instructor from Birmingham, Alabama. He has been published in The Bulwark, Alabama Daily News, the University Bookman, and the Gospel Coalition. Follow him on Twitter: @yellingstopal.

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3 Responses

  1. Brandon Berg says:

    Yet in the popular consciousness, The Carpenters are best known for two magnificent Christmas albums that retain both their sweetness and energy four decades after their release.

    Really? I didn’t even know these albums existed. Other than their version of “The Christmas Song,” I don’t think I could name a single Christmas carol that they recorded, although I could name about a dozen of their original pop songs.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    I looked to see if The Carpenters covered “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and… they didn’t.

    When I was a kid, I’m 99% sure that we didn’t have the phenomenon where K-Lite (“The Sunny Radio Station!”) played Christmas Music from Thanksgiving Day through January 6th. This wasn’t a problem for our house because we had a couple dozen Christmas albums. Everything from Herb Alpert and the Tajuana Brass’s Christmas Album to The Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Christmas Greetings.

    So it was K-Lite in our house from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Yeah, the Carpenters were in there too. Sigh.Report

  3. Marchmaine says:

    This is sort of a musical blind-spot for me. As a child of the 70s there are swaths of music that hit me like an allergic reaction… the Carpenters are one of those allergies.

    That said, one of the many things I love about Christmas Music is that they are all (almost all) covers! It’s 100% about mood and style… there’s no originality involve… well, other than arranging the covers into the right mood and style.

    And this is a great thing! We can make Christmas playlists (thanks Cloud!) for every mood and style imaginable. And for someone such as myself who makes a Christmas playlist almost every year (and labels them by mood/style and year – thanks Cloud!) I really appreciate this shared culture.

    My playlists start with Advent: Benedictine Sisters of Mary and Roger Wilcock make up two excellent lists which dominate airtime between 1st and 3rd Sundays of Advent. We’re sort of semi-Pelagian purists when it comes to Thanksgiving/Christmas… we insist on some Advent… right up until Gaudete Sunday, then we fall apart in our self-defined works of virtue.

    After Gaudete Sunday (yesterday, by the way), we jump into the popular milieus… Country, Crooner and Jazzy …depending on the time/mood of day: Afternoon, Cocktail hour, Supper. Mornings are still contemplative Advent Benedictines of Mary… the Semi part of the Pelagianism. These are the songs of communal friendship, wintertide musings, and the silly goings on of romance and party planning… maybe a few country singers thinking about Mary.

    We don’t really break out the Choral powerhouses until the last few days… the Christmas Eve anticipatory days. Kings College, Choer Rhapsodes and other choirs who have mastered mood/style/technique. These are the big hymnal songs, the lessons mixed with the carols. Arrangements that make Phil Spector weep in awe. I still spend hours looking for Choirs that have a ‘take’ on these Christmas covers. Kings College is the baseline… after that I’m looking for style and nuance… I abhor the dirgey style of false liturgy that some choirs produce. Ugh.

    BUT NEVER ADESTE FIDELIS… this alone must be saved for Christmas Day. Even as we sneak in a few of the others on the anticipatory days to the anticipatory day.

    So mood, style, technique and themes can all be grouped as we listen to the same songs that we all know. I even revisit playlists (hence the dates) to see if new entrants have arrived… Dean, Bing and the Andrews sisters joined by Michael and the Puppini Sisters… even found a new crooner this year.

    Someday, maybe, I’ll even make a Carpenters Christmas mix. Or, more likely, my children will make one.Report