So the dam broke two nights ago. While at Steady Sounds for Daniel Bachman’s in-store, I bought a reissue of A Charlie Brown Christmas and chased it with copies of James Brown’s “Santa Claus Is Definitely Here To Stay” and the Blind Boys of Alabama “Christmas In Dixie” 7-inch that came out on Black Friday. Went home, listened to those. Then I busted out my recently acquired and festively green How the Grinch Stole Christmas soundtrack, discovering — much to Mrs. YHT’s and my delight — that, yes, it does indeed feature all of the original TV special’s narration. (I might as well buy a second copy now, because this one’s getting worn out in no time.) Then Stevie Wonder’s Christmas album happened, prompting me to tweet, tumbl and instragram that “You know shit’s getting Christmassy when Stevie Wonder starts harmonica soloing to ‘Ave Maria’ in your living room.”
Like I said. The dam broke.
I’ve never been the biggest Christmas music person, but I can feel a shift happening. I shouldn’t be surprised, though, because it’s in my blood. My dad was bananas for Christmas music. Traditional, genre-specific, ecclesiastical… we’re talking hundreds (if not thousands) of holiday-related records, tapes and CDs hiding in drawers and on shelves until they could justifiably be dusted off and deployed. It brought him so much joy. In fact, I’m pretty sure my mom had to set start- and end-dates for Christmas music season to keep my dad from playing it year-round.
She’s no hater, though. She digs Christmas music almost as much as he did. Just the other day, we had the following (unedited) email exchange, which started with my mom sending me this video of four guys playing “Angels We Have Heard On High” on/in/around a piano, and continued thusly:
Mom: Do you know a singer-songwriter named Nick Lowe?
Me: Yes! Love his stuff! I found an album of his called “Labor of Lust” at Goodwill am crazy about it. What you can get for $1. I tell ya.
Mom: I heard him interviewed on NPR yesterday and loved his song “Christmas in the Airport” so I just bought his Christmas album. There’s an odd combination to both his personality and his music that puts together crusty rasp with something tender and kind. Humor that’s way far from sappy, but doesn’t cross the line into cynical. Like what I like about some old people who’ve given up being mean or competitive, but won’t stand for saccharine.
Me: That’s a great way of putting it! I totally agree. In fact, can I have your permission to use that assessment in/as a blog post?!? I think I heard the same interview. Prairie Home Companion? I loved when Garrison Kielor (sp) said that he sang like every older man wishes he could sing. What a nice thing to say.
Mom: Of course! The interview was I think on ATC last night with Arun Rath. Whom I like a lot. Keillor.
Did you catch that? The correct use of “whom”/corrected spelling of Garrison Keillor’s last name double mic drop? I love you, mom. Don’t ever change.
Listen to “Christmas AT The Airport” below, listen to Lowe’s A Prairie Home Companion appearance here, hear him on All Things Considered here, and click here to buy Lowe’s new holiday album, Quality Street.