December 07, 2008

The Reason for the Season

Like any reasonable person, I hate Christmas for a wide variety of reasons, but mostly for the perfectly rational reason that I always want to mail a letter on Christmas day but never can because of the Taliban-like stranglehold that the organized fundamentalist Christmas interest has on our once proud, freedom loving, mail sending nation.

One thing I do like about Christmas though is Christmas music. I can't really explain it, since so much of it sucks so utterly, but a big part of it is definitely because all the country greats (everyone from Ray Price to Ferlin Husky) has felt compelled to record Christmas records that have some really fine music on them.

Some of these are quite great (Buck Owens deserves special note). And, it helps that Christmas records have virtually no value. People dump them all the time and nobody seems to buy them. The flea market guy I sell records to refuses to consider anything with Christmas in it (except for Elvis). The records are easy to find in thrift stores (in the South particularly) for a buck. Consequently, over the years I have amassed a stupidly large number of these records, a couple of linear feet of them actually. I have to start listening to them in early December just to get through them. I am going to weed aggressively this year.

(I'll also be getting rid of about 25 Jimmy Swaggart records, let me know if you are interested, you get an instant Golden Gospel Piano collection!).

Rarely does a day go by that I don't consider thanking the Prince of Peace himself for putting Ernest Tubb here on God's green earth to sing "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer." Or at least thank the lucky stars. That is one song that is yearly rotation around here, not just in the season.

So I dusted off the Christmas collection to start putting it through its paces and thought that there are a couple of other gems in there worth mentioning. To anticipate your question, there is one conjunto christmas recording I know of, I have a tape of it but can't find it and actually have no way to play tapes anymore since I sold my truck over a year ago). "Christmas in Zitherland," Steel Guitar Christmas" and "Christmas Vibes" (as in vibaphone) all of their cherished place.

I did have a thought of perfect clarity: The Star Wars Christmas LP from 1980 should have been grounds for George Lucas to lose his American citizenship:

It has a song with this chorus: 'R2D2 we wish you a Merry christmas. R2D2 we love, it's true. R2D2 we wish you a Merry christmas. R2D2 We hope our little message gets to you.'

My understanding of christmas theology is a bit dimmer than my knowledge of Star Wars theology, but I am glad that both can converge on the view of R2D2 as cyberchrist.

For some reason that only Lucas' swiss bankers can explain, as soon as this record came on my child, who has never heard of R2D2 or Star Wars, immediately went into whirling dervish mode.

Christmas comes but once a year, but that other Colonel, Colonel Sanders, has out at least two records.

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