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Padre Steve’s Rockin’ Christmas: Music for Anyone to Get into the Spirit of the Season

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Christmas music comes in many forms and genres. Some is quite traditional yet like any music Christmas music has captured the hearts of many artists over the decades of recorded on records, tapes, CDs and now digital media.

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One genre where Christmas music has found a home for the last 60 years or so has been Rock and Roll. I think a great bridge between the more traditional and the contemporary is the duet of Little Drummer Boy between Bing Crosby and David Bowie  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiXjbI3kRus

Of course this is in no way an exhaustive list of these songs, just some plucked from memory that I could find music videos of and which I might not have already done on past years articles. I think that some of these are on multiple posts but still, they struck me tonight.

I usually listen to 60s, 70s or 80‘s music whenever I drive but I think soon I will switch over to Christmas music on my Sirius radio. Maybe I will switch back and forth depending on my mood and the traffic. That being said here are some of the more interesting Christmas songs, some religious, some non-religious by some Rock artists from the 50s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, some of whom are still around recording new versions of Christmas songs.

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Some of the earliest Rock and Roll Christmas songs included a number by Elvis Presley  including the classic Blue Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzHfQk7ATU0 . Brenda Lee’s  Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6xNuUEnh2g and Bobby Helms’ Jingle Bell Rock  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itcMLwMEeMQ seem never to get old, in fact they have been recorded by others. 1980’s new wave rocker  Billy Idol did a classy version of the latter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itcMLwMEeMQ nor can we forget the legendary Chuck Berry who recorded Run Run Rudolph http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCTeXUkTFwQ&list=PLD104FAECADC5F176 which has also had many artists release it since Berry first did.

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The members of the Beatles are not absent from the list. The Beatles released a version of Christmas Time is Here Again http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4vE5DnFWV0  while the members of the Fab Four all released Christmas songs. John Lennon’s  Happy Christmas (War is Over) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPm3CWvDmvc  is a modern classic. Paul McCartney and Wings turned Wonderful Christmas Time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1-sXrdQtog into a massive hit. Ringo Starr’s Glam Rock Come On Christmas, Christmas Come On  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaguXYTXYoA was less memorable while George Harrison’s Ding Dong, Ding Dong was an upbeat and funny song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VggAH1dk3Qk .

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Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermit’s released a version of O Holy Night http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfOqingPZzk while The Beach Boy’s Little Saint Nick http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSynDh_K0EE brought us a very California rendition of a Santa Song. Simon and Garfunkel did Comfort and Joy (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uB_oFQXv3w

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Some of the biggest acts of the 1970s had popular Christmas releases including Gary Glitter who released Another Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kn06NJzYQc4 . Freddie Mercury and Queen released Thank God it’s Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIUmggOhHCM and the Eagles Please Come Home for Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1AaMe1KbwE was a pleading look at a broken relationship. Chicago had a number of Christmas releases including Christmas Time is Here  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8B0jyKBF4U and O Come All Ye Faithful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-9hrvoFpp4 .

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They were not alone British rocker Cliff Richard released Christmas Time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9U0R1kCRzU, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed Christmas All Over Again http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaPj1GoDpQw. Foghat released a version of All I want for Christmas is You http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUv7T_Uq6QU, Bruce Springsteen did Santa Claus is Coming to Town  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CIebZ4RtgY and The Bee Gees Thank You For Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rm6pI8ybtA .

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The groups of the late 1970s and early to mid 1980s are represented. Blondie has always been one of my favorite groups. This is a fairly recent release of We Three Kings http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vecWPafdDQ while Pat Benatar released a somewhat patriotic song called Christmas in America  http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xwgmps_pat-benatar-christmas-in-america_music, maybe we as Americans need to be thankful for what we have at Christmas.

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The classic bad girl, Joan Jett did the Little Drummer Boy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3Qwx8OTV-k , the Girl Band the Bangles performed A Hazy Shade of Winter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvvSQkUK-t4.  One of the more unusual acts who not only did a Christmas song but an entire Heavy Metal Christmas Album was Twisted Sister who have a classic version of White Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_1X-VEhHFc.

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Classic Rockers Stevie Nicks and Rod Stewart did nice versions of classics, Stevie did  Silent Night http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZPyphUNO6k while Stewart performed  White Christmas  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EvQOmjXCxc.

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Like I said, this list is not exhaustive. Since as I do it I keep remembering more I figure I will stop for the night and hope that at least some of these songs help get you into the spirit of the season. After all, there is so much negativity that whether you are a Christian or not the season does present us all the chance to maybe see something positive in ourselves and our neighbors. So with Elton John I invite you my friends to Step Into Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDqi8ENS1FU

 

 

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Advent of Early Onset Holiday Commercialization Syndrome 2011

I hate to sound like a Grinch or Scrooge type of killjoy but here on November 20th I am bothered by an attack of Early Onset Holiday Commercialization Syndrome (EOHCS). EOHCS is not yet recognized as a Disorder in the DSM IV I have to wing it here but I think that the average person probably realizes that this condition is epidemic in our society.  Since I tend to avoid malls and the big retail outlets in general I can usually avoid attacks of EOHCS mostly by ignoring the incessant “Christmas” or holiday commercials of which car commercials seem to be the most offensive this year.  However I do  have to go out in public sometimes and on those occasions must do all that I can to stay sane as EOHCS seems to come earlier than it ever did.

I had to go get groceries this afternoon and went to a “Wal-Mart Super Center” in Morehead City because they carry a particular brand of pita bread that I cannot get at any of the grocery stores in my local area.  Now I expect that when I go to any retailer after Labor Day to find Christmas specials and an encroachment of Christmas paraphernalia and gifts with each passing week.  That is a given in our consumer driven society and whether I like it or not it is a fact of life and I am not going to change it.  However I just wanted groceries and not the full on Christmas press.  Now to be sure I only go to Wal-Mart when necessary because frankly the place sets off almost every alarm in my post PTSD mind and body.  When I go my goal is to get in and out as soon as possible and avoid any crowds, congested areas and noise.  Thus I will usually go late at night as if I were a stealth commando, but today I needed to go early to get it done.

Of course the store was littered with pre-Black Friday specials and had aisles of candies, cakes, toys, and trimmings. I felt like the Grinch walking through Whoville without the sweet ambiance of that cartoon town.  As I went made my foray into the store, knowing exactly what I needed and where to find it I was assaulted by and overwhelmed with the sound of Christmas music which was louder and more obnoxious than usual. I think the most annoying of the songs I heard today was “Rocking around the Christmas Tree” sung by Brenda Lee which seems to repeated about every 15 minutes during the holiday season.  I find her voice particularly grating and about as soothing as Pee Wee Herman scratching his nails scratching on a chalkboard when I am out shopping.  Now this song is simply annoying but when I hear songs that are meant for worship of the Lord being used as a means to condition us to buy things I get offended.  Thus when I hear “Silent Night” sandwiched between advertisements on November 20th in a store I want to scream, not that there is anything wrong with that; the screaming that is.

Now I like Christmas music, so long as it is actually somewhat close to Christmas even even the non-religious songs of which Grandma Got Run over By a Reindeer is my all time favorite, but I digress.  Since liturgically speaking it isn’t even Advent yet I find such a bombardment of secular and sacred Christmas songs while grocery shopping to be offensive to my somewhat liturgically correct sensibilities.  That may seem harsh but the musical assault at Wal-Mart only increased my desire to finish shopping and get the hell out of the store as fast as my cart would carry my food.  It did not induce me to hang around to see if I wanted to spend extra money on stuff that I probably don’t need.

And we wonder while there is little sense of the Holy in our society.  The fact is that somehow we have allowed our culture to devolve to the point that we utilize actions and holidays meant to point us in the direction of the Holy and use them to satisfy our most base desires. The Holy is subordinated to the profit margins of retailers who make their money satiating our desires for the newest and greatest stuff that we can get our hands on.

I am not against people getting nice things at all or giving gifts in abundance to their loved ones or even for themselves.  I like nice stuff too and I love the celebration of Christmas in its spiritual as well as cultural derivatives.  I like Christmas trees and decorations and the festiveness of Christmas especially with friends enjoying each other and a good glass of hot Gluhwein.

I guess I think that when we turn Christmas into a months long pursuit of profits and stuff that it really cheapens and degrades the holiday, even for people that are not Christians. Really, Black Friday is the real holy day in our consumer society and what gets more push back, a store being open briefly on Christmas or Black Friday sales encroaching on Thanksgiving?

Even allegedly “Christian” retailers take advantage of the holiday even selling trinkets that say “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” or “What Would Jesus Do?” at a healthy profit.  Again I am not against people making a profit from their labors people should be compensated well for work well done. But the fact that most Jesus junk like almost everything else is now made in China or Third World countries by workers that are all but slaves doesn’t seem to enter into the equation for jesus is the reason for the season“Christian” retailers and even ministries; just as it doesn’t for everyone else seeking to make a profit off the baby born in the manger.

How sad that as a culture we have reduced the celebration of God humbly entering into the human experience to a celebration of crass economic Darwinism much more in tune with Ayn Rand than Jesus.  Paul writes in Philippians though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness….” Somehow that concept seems lost in our culture.

Oh well, what can I say?  Maybe I am a Grinch after all or maybe I can get counseling for Early Onset Holiday Commercialization Syndrome.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Favorite Non-Religious Christmas and Holiday Music

I love Christmas music and of course that music spans both the sacred realm as well as the not so sacred realm. Today I was in a store amid crowds or rather hoards of crazed 6 and a half shopping days until Christmas trying to avoid being trampled when behold I heard the soothing sounds of Karen Carpenter singing Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas. In the maelstrom of the merchandise mad mom’s and toy seeking tots and guys praying that if they just spend enough money that they can win their sweetheart’s heart one more time the song took me away to a peaceful place far, far away until a wild eyed woman dove into the clearance bin that I was standing by nearly knocking me down like a linebacker blitzing a defenseless quarterback.

Despite the fact that my foray into the fog and confusion of war nearly caused me injury the mere thought of that song in the sad yet soothing voice of Karen Carpenter I began to think of other Christmas and Holiday songs that I like which are not of the sacred variety.  So here they are, Padre Steve’s favorite non-religious Christmas and Holiday music songs.

From a sentimental point of view my absolute favorite is Karen Carpenter’s version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.  I don’t know what it is about the song but it is one of those rare songs that calms me and makes me appreciate the relational aspects of Christmas.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vZwWJMAoTA

Not far down my sentimental favorites list is Bing Crosby and his timeless performance of White Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aShUFAG_WgM which as I understand is the most popular Christmas song ever recorded even in Tajikistan.

Nate King Cole recorded this beautiful song back in 1946 The Christmas Song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG5VPji-SpU and early rock and roll Christmas songs like Bobby Helms’ Jingle Bell Rock and Rocking around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee and if you think of Rock and Roll you have to include the King, Elvis Presley and Blue Christmas. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ODrPL9-kEs&feature=related

One of the earliest Christmas songs that I remember was Christmas don’t be Late by Alvin and the Chipmunks. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzTG0fTLAlU I heard it today at the local 7-Eleven and had a wonderful chat with the lady behind the counter.

Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzTG0fTLAlU is one of the few things in Spanish that I know besides what is on the menu at Mexican restaurants.

The title song to A Charlie Brown Christmas entitled Christmas Time is Here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPG3zSgm_Qo was always one of my favorites mainly because I have always loved that show.

Since there are very few songs about New Year I have to mention Happy New Year by Abba http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcLMH8pwusw&feature=related

My golden old kid Christmas songs include Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6OC7Y4n3xs and Here Comes Santa Claus http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0BOIdwUiqA&feature=related by Gene Autry

Then there are the more irreverent songs like Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer by Randy and Ronnie Brooks http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG5VPji-SpU

I could go on and you could probably add more songs so in the last few days before Christmas, take a few minutes to enjoy the music, and without getting hurt at the mall have a wonderful Christmas.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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