Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas music

People like to complain about Christmas music during the six-week period when you can't escape it. Piped into stores, coming over the TV and radio -- some people feel like they can't escape.

But I'm one of those people whom Christmas music puts in an instantly festive mood. Noel made his Christmas playlist available via iPod today, and we've been driving around town listening to Keely Smith, the Beach Boys, Fred Astaire, and all the other quirky classics.

A couple of our writing colleagues dissed Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad" in an e-mail conversation a few weeks ago, and my heart sank a little. That's one of the songs that makes me bounce and sing under my breath no matter if I hear it in a long check-out line or in a cheesy radio mix. It's the contrast between relatively simple 4/4 beats of the verse and the soaring, propulsive syncopation of the chorus. If we don't hear that anymore because it's over-exposed, we've lost a little bit of the easy-to-come-by joy of the season.

I feel the same way about "Little St. Nick" by the Beach Boys -- who could fail to be reliably amused by the the circularity of "Christmas comes this time each year"? -- and "Jingle Bell Rock." Maybe that shows that I'm easily pleased by the little things, like that guitar hit that follows quick upon the first line of the latter song. I never get tired of those tiny touches, the ones that bring it all to life, the ones that you can treasure as your very own no matter how many millions of people are listening to that same song day after day.

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