Sunday, November 20, 2005


OK - this rant is off topic from the normal scope of this blog, but...

When I'm not in church or writing music, my radio will be on one of five classic rock/oldies stations. Or my wife will be on one of two soft rock stations or the local country station. Or my kids will be tuned to Radio Disney.

Ever have one of your favorite radio stations turn around a week before Thanksgiving Day and start playing the tackiest Christmas music 24/7 every day until Christmas? At one time, we had Christmas records if we wanted to hear Christmas music. Radio stations maybe played one or two within a one-hour span. Not exactly overkill.

But when you have a station that plays stuff like "It's the most wonderful time of the year" by Andy Williams, about as many trashed versions of stuff like "Silver Bells" and "Sleigh Ride" as you can think of TWENTY FOUR/SEVEN - now THAT'S overkill.

I'm not trying to be a Scrooge here. After all, I am Roman Catholic, and I do have plenty of Christmas spirit to go around, both in a sacred and secular sense, believe me. But can we at least get out of Ordinary Time first before playing silly Christmas ditties that sound worse than the crap you hear over the speakers at the mall?

Note that this trend up this neck of the woods only started emerging about four years ago. So far, I've boycotted two stations until Christmas is done. In the meantime, I'll still be rehearsing Christmas music with the choir for the Christmas Masses, and for the concert. I'll still be putting up my tree with the wife and kids a week after Thanksgiving (at least we'll be in Advent). On Christmas Eve, I play WCRB-FM (102.5 - a Boston classical station) and listen to some of the greatest carol arrangements ever recorded - some by orchestras, some by smaller ensembles, many by choirs (a sizeable amount by choirs of boys and men, with organ, sometimes brass).

One of the greatest Christmas albums of all time was released in the 1960's, and is still being sold as a CD on many internet stores. It's The Glorious Sound of Christmas by Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, featuring the Temple University Concert Choir, directed by Robert Page (my father, 24 years deceased, was Robert Page, but not THAT Robert Page). My parents had this album when I was a youngun. The arrangements on all 14 tracks are about as good as they come.

Side One:
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing (with choir)
O Little Town of Bethlehem (instrumental)
Joy to the World (instrumental)
O Holy Night (with choir)
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (instrumental)
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (instrumental)
Ave Maria (Schubert/instrumental, with choir on part of it on "aah")

Side Two:
O Come, All Ye Faithful (with choir)
The First Noel (instrumental)
Deck the Halls (instrumental)
O Sanctissima (instrumental)
The Worship of God in Nature (Beethoven/with choir)
O Come, Little Children (instrumental)
Silent Night (with choir)

I love Christmas. I just don't like the tacky secular overkill.



PhiMuAlpha2681 said...

Other than all my choral/sacred Christmas music, there are only 2 cd's that I listen to:

1) Vince Guaraldi's "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

2) Johnny Mathis "Merry Christmas" (My mom used to play this ALL the time when we were growing up, and we HATED it, and now it doesn't seem like Christmas without Johnny...apparently my great-aunt played it all the time when mom was little, and same thing happened to addicted.)


Brian Michael Page said...

In addition to the "Glorious Sound" album, there were a few collections that my parents had that I thought were quite cool:

- The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Sings Christmas Carols (really good)

- Christmas! Sing Along with Mitch (gotta love that Mitch Miller LOL; was basic, but good)

- Firestone presents: Your Favorite Christmas Carols (Vol. 2), and Your Favorite Christmas Music (Vol. 4)

- The Great Songs of Christmas (a Columbia Special Products recording) - my parents had albums 3 and 4. The interesting thing on these albums was some off-season stuff on them - e.g., Mahalia Jackson singing Holy Holy Holy (NICAEA) and Abide with Me (EVENTIDE) on album 4; Robert Goulet doing a not-bad-at-all Panis Angelicus on album 3. Some of the Ormandy instrumentals from Glorious Sound were on these albums too.

My mom got rid of all the vinyls - and her turntable. *sigh*


Anonymous said...

I feel your pain, Brian. I went home for the Thanksgiving weekend (niece was baptised last Saturday, and I'm the Godmother), and the local Soft Hits station was in the midst of their Christmas Muzak Weekend, so you can imagine, that blaring on the radio, and my comment to my dad was, "Christmas music? It isn't even Advent yet!"