“Despite the commerce involved, we hope you will consider this our gift to you.”
-Low’s Christmas liner notes.
Ahhh the holidays. For me it’s Christmas. Now while I lean toward the more secular, bedazzled version containing spangles, boughs of holly and sticky mugs of Glühwein rather than mangers and swaddling clothes (blatant honesty, folks), I understand that all encompassing ‘holiday time’ means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I have shamelessly chosen the Candy Cane Lane version and I’m happy with it.
I suppose I get my love of the holiday season from my mother and father. Especially my father. He was SO into it. We had a grand time stringing up lights on a hand-cut tree and decking the family halls with boxes of ancient, gilded doodads and hand-hewn wooden ornaments, holiday LPs playing in the background. Today, as an adult living in Munich, it is like I’ve landed square on Planet Christmas (Dad, you’d love it!). Simply stated, it is the most glorious place on earth from mid-November until New Years Day. Despite geography I have carried on family traditions, albeit more abbreviated and fit for a smallish flat in the city, to the best of my ability. So has my sister. Music included.
I have an old friend who must possess the largest Christmas music collection known to man, hands down (I’m looking at you, Shawn). I own but a few favorites, including mixes made by the gentleman I just mentioned, and every so many years something catches my eye and I pick it up. Recently I happened upon this bargain bin beauty. For a mere €6, it is the most solid collection of old school tunes I’ve come across. I could live without Connie Francis singing the lord’s prayer, but Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers make up for it with the poetry in “Merry Christmas Baby”:
Merry Christmas pretty baby, you sure been good to me
Well I haven’t had a drink this morning, but I’m all lit up like a Christmas tree.
Well said, Blazers. Well said. Moving on…
While I was going through our (few) Christmas records my husband asked if I minded if he chose something,“I’m putting on Sigur Rós’ Ágætis Byrjun, OK? Because that is Christmas to me.”
Apparently, nearly a decade and a half ago (yes, unbelievably, the record is THAT old) he spent the holiday listening to it on a Discman on snowy walks. Lovely and nary a reindeer (or dreidel for that matter) in sight. It works. Try it.
At the end of the day, however, there is always a most favorite when it comes to music, whatever the genre. Duluth, Minnesota’s slow-fi outfit, Low, wins my Christmas first prize with their 1999 release, simply titled Christmas. The 8-track swooner contains 5 original tunes and 3 classics. The heartbreaker for me is “Little Drummer Boy”. It doesn’t have anything on I Could Live in Hope (a personal desert island) but it gets the ol’ Christmas fires burning. I highly recommend it.
So, with this I bid you fond farewell for another year. 2013 is (mostly) done and dusted. Whatever your faith or anti-faith, continue to keep those you love as close as possible, do a good deed or 2 for those without and just be decent. Please, I beg you, be non-violent and decent. And keep the wax spinning, of course.
[Abby’s Road is a Knox Road feature published every other Friday.]