Thursday, December 01, 2005

at least the ACLU is happy

On Sunday morning I wrote a little about my Christmas music collection. That afternoon, my wife went to the good Target to buy their exclusive "Sounds of the Season" disc. As I feared, they were out of stock. Fortunately for me, my wife didn't give up. She went to the older, now less popular Target and found plenty of the CDs, which were on sale for $4.99. She bought both the pop and r&b editions for me but not the country disc, which surprised me. She used to like country music.

The pop disc has an assortment of secular holiday songs from the likes of Gavin DeGraw, Rob Thomas, Seal, Jason Mraz and Ray Charles (huh?). There are a two people on there I wasn't familiar with: Leigh Nash and Jimmy Sommers. The only link about the disc that I found was on the Goo Goo Dolls' website. The r&b disc actually has some religious Christmas songs on it. Babyface does "The First Noel," someone named Heather Headley does "O Holy Night" and Aretha Franklin does "Joy to the World." The disc also has "My Christmas Prayer" by BeBe Winans, which was on a CD sold exclusively at Starbucks last year that was one of Oprah's favorite things.

In Sunday's post, I wrote that the only new Christmas disc I had received so far was the new one by the Brian Setzer Orchestra. I'm watching their performance on this morning's Tony Danza Show as I type this. Man, I sure wish I could get to Nashville for their concert next week. I guess I'll just have to put their Christmas DVD on my wish list. I also TiVo-ed their performances on Conan O'Brien's show and the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting special.

Anyway, I had forgotten that I made a special trip to Best Buy on November 6 to get their "Sweet Tracks" CD that was free to Reward Zone members. The disc promised songs by the Pussycat Dolls, Lifehouse, Mary J. Blige, Sting and others. To the surprise of no one, the Pussycat Dolls sing "Santa Baby." It was less predictable that Lifehouse would do "Silent Night." Someone named Kaci Brown does "O Holy Night."

As I listen to Christmas music on the radio, I notice that almost all the songs are secular. You know, Frosty, Rudolph, Silver Bells, Winter Wonderland, blah blah blah. I heard a few minutes of Delilah's nationally syndicated show tonight. She referred to the songs as "holiday music" not Christmas music. The only song I heard Delilah play tonight that mentioned Jesus was the maudlin "The Christmas Shoes," which isn't about the nativity. It's about a kid going shopping for his dying mother. It's increasingly rare that you'll hear a song on the radio that you will also hear in church. In 2003 and 2004, I worked at a radio station that played a lot of Christmas music on the weekends. One day after hearing "Holly Jolly Christmas" for the thousandth time, I decided to look through the music logs in search of "O Come All Ye Faithful" or "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" or any song that was even remotely about the true meaning of Christmas. As you can probably guess, I found none.

The "holiday songs" are nice and cheery but they don't satisfy. They leave an empty feeling. I need to hear something with a deeper meaning than "Wonderful Christmastime" to stir the memories and emotions of Christmases past. What do you say, radio programmers?
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Blogger jess said...

Leigh Nash - former lead singer for Sixpence none the Richer.
Jimmy Sommers - smooth jazz saxman (according to Yahoo! Music)
Heather Headley - black Broadway singer (lion king, aida)
Kaci Brown - ?????

my christmas favorites are carols - the first noel, joy to the world, and so on. It's why I don't mind going to midnight mass with the family.

and you are absolutely right... though I would love to hear Father Christmas (either the Kinks or the K&B CD version) at all on the radio. They are too busy playing Last Christmas.

And, have you checked out this year's Starbucks discs yet? I know you don't drink coffee, but I would argue that, though more expensive than the target CDS, they are good for variety and for the older classic songs.

Anonymous Jere said...

Yeah...last I heard the radio business was not part of the government, so there's no reason for separation of church and radio. And especially in the south (bible belt) you'd think you'd hear more sacred songs.

Gee, if jewish performers like Kenny G (not my favorite choice) and Barbra Streisand are willing to play true Christmas music, why can't radio play them.


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