The Best Christmas Music
These are not songs that directly celebrate the birth of Jesus - they are not those kinds of Christmas songs . . . these are the songs that play at my house during the Christmas season, but during the rest of the year as well. For me, music is all about the music, by that I mean, for me music does not play a supportive role, I never have 'background' music playing - I don't use music to lift my spirits if I'm down, I don't use music to make some chore more pleasant, I don't use music to present a point (like, I hated the Folk/protest music of the 60s), etc, music is about the actual music for me.
There are many songs I've been listening to regularly since I was in my early teens, songs I've listened to literally hundreds of times, and I could not tell you what they're about if you had a gun to my head. I only listen to music that moves me, music that I love, if I don't love it, like if it's not bad or if it's ok, I don't listen to it . . . if I'm not carried away to musicland then I don't want to listen to it. So, I don't put music on in the background, I don't listen to it while I do some chore, I don't listen to it in the car, etc, etc - If the music can't have all my attention, if I can't sit back and close my eyes, if I can't fall fully into the music then I don't want to listen to it.
Now, I say all that to offer this assertion; these, in fact, are songs that celebrate the birth of Jesus - not in that they sing lyrics that address the incarnation, but that they evidence the marvel of God's creation. If I sing "God created all and Jesus is our only hope" that speaks directly, it states, that God is worthy to be praised - but, while it may be more direct or immediate, I don't think it speaks any more loudly or truthfully that God is to be praised than if I sing "I love you baby, let's go on a picnic tomorrow", if the music is stirring and beautiful.
So, these are Christmas songs for you to enjoy this Christmas season that carry the message of the wonder and beauty of God's creation, these are songs that celebrate music itself, these are songs that are not necessarily about mangers or stars or virgin births, etc - but they are songs that evidence the truth of all that is Christmas, they celebrate a gift God has given us . . . this is the best Christmas music ~
. . . and we have to start with Elvis. This is from a television special Elvis did in 1968 that has since become known as 'The '68 comeback Special'. There were some cheesy Hollywood/Vegas style Elvis numbers, but there was a segment where Elvis sat with his original band, including Scotty Moore on guitar and D.J.Fontana on drums (here on a guitar case or chair), and played the old songs that made Elvis 'Elvis'. This was well after Elvis' reign as 'the king', it was a few years after The Beatles changed everything and a year before Woodstock - times had changed, drastically, but Elvis here demonstrates why everyone else, The Beatles, Hendrix, everyone, was still just trying to be Elvis. It's brief, it's only a part of the song, and he's goofing around doing it - but even so, you can hear the genius of this truck driver who grew-up in a house that played Country music, but he would sneak down to the church and the juke joints to listen to Black music ~
. . . and talk about getting lost in the music, being carried away - Ray Charles was, in his own lifetime, simply called 'the genius' ~
. . . and because all popular American music comes from the Blues, a little Christmas Blues is in order ~
Brian Setzer is a stunning aficionado of both Rockabilly and Swing music, and has just about single-handedly introduced a resurgence of interest in both. With The Stray Cats he exposed a whole new generation to the Rockabilly beginnings of Rock & Roll and later with his big band he made Swing music cool again. The trouble with having one man start two different musical trends in a few short years is that you marvel at that and forget what a phenomenal guitar player he is - one of the best. ~
There is no one like Eric Clapton. No one else has been inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame three times, no one else has the catalog of decades of good music, a very few are as pivotal a force in the development of music . . . Clapton stands with Benny Goodman, Bing Crosby, Muddy Waters, Elvis, Dylan, and The Beatles in this regard - there is music before Clapton and music after Clapton, he changed everything. The Beatles made every young kid want to go out and buy a guitar - Clapton made them want to learn how to play it. His guitar playing is so unavoidably recognized as outstanding that we neglect to fully appreciate his songwriting and his singing . . . because he is THE guitar player of our generation it's a remarkable thing to say that, there are few out there who can sing as powerfully, passionately, and honestly as Eric Clapton ~
Forget Diana Ross & Tina Turner, Darlene Love might be the greatest female singer of our time . . . she is right up there with Aretha. Darlene Love is one of those very, very few singers who can simply do whatever she wants . . . if it would sound good to have 'this' note or 'that' much volume at a certain point in the song, she can just do it. She was the voice of more songs that you know than you know . . . I mean, record companies (and Phil Spector) put her in the studio to sing the lead for a number of different 'girl groups' of the early 60s ( like "He's A Rebel", “Da Doo Ron Ron”, etc) and she was regularly recruited for background vocals by scores of artists - including Sam Cooke, Elvis, The Beach Boys, The Righteous Brothers, Luther Vandross, Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, etc, etc, etc. Nobody's better ~
Pavarotti said of Jussi Björling "A voice like mine comes every ten years, a voice like Jussis comes only every millennium". "O Holy Night" is one of the only actual Christmas song Christmas songs that I love . . . he sings in (I believe) Swedish, but when Björling gets to the part, his voice so powerfully declares it that you can hear the words "fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!". Sit back, turn it way up, close your eyes, and be lifted, transported, go visit musicland for 5 minutes ~
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