Blue Christmas already

So I’m in the car this afternoon and I’m flipping through the radio stations and I hear a sliver of Josh Grobin and I don’t recognize it and so I think to myself: Hmmm, this guy is finally out with some new (as opposed to recycled Andrea Bocelli knockoff) material? Ohuup … nope, of course not. IT’S YET ANOTHER COVER OF “I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS.”

Sonnuvah …

And sure enough, the local soft rock station has already commenced its schlock and awful campaign of horrendousness that is Christmas Music Season. Thus it’s time to perform my annual public service announcement that originally ran oh these many years ago as “Gird Yourself For Bad Christmas Music.” It begins:

 It’s only November 29 and I’m already sick to death of “Jingle Bell Rock” and Burle Ives and “White Christmas” and the Ray Conniff Singers (”let’s all sing in unison everybody!”). Hasn’t anyone realized that there are only so many ways to rearrange “Silent Night” and “We Three Kings” before the songs collapse under their own threadbare weight? The state of Christmas music - Christian and secular - is atrocious.

The full rant is here. Obviously all you have to do is change the date and this holds true every year. … and it keeps getting earlier and earlier!

Oh grant that this scourge may not fall too heavily upon us for once, dear precious baby Jesus. But just to be sure, I’m leaving the radio off till the New Year.

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  1. suzie wrote:

    Please go to Mark Lowry’s twitter and find the entry where he links you to The Isaacs’ “Labor of Love”. {Mark’s entry that day begins with “”Audio: This is my favorite new Christmas song…”} It’s a Christmas song with a different perspective and beautifully (I should say perfectly) performed. Can’t get it off of my mind! Go take a listen!!

  2. bayougurl wrote:

    “Sonnuvah …”

    I think we have a new word.

    I just wish they’d give some of the more obscure songs a chance.

    Why do the same songs over and over?

    Do you really think you’re gonna do a better job of it than [insert legend here]?

  3. NG wrote:

    I have a homemade CD with 27 different versions of Rudolph including ones in French and Dutch. Also includes Run Rudolph Run (Chuck Berry) They Shined up Rudolph’s Nose (Johnny Horton) and Randolph the Flat Nosed Reindeer (Homer and Jethro. Guess I won’t bother sending Doug a copy.

  4. Rev. Al wrote:

    Can’t get enough. Our family starts Christmas music the first weekend of Nov. We go deer hunting and bring Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Bing with us. Can’t get enough!! Bring it on.

  5. Bill Enwright wrote:


  6. GospelMusicFan wrote:

    I love those “Christmas in July” sales with Christmas music ringing in my ears.
    Keep on singing His music all year long!
    Can’t get enough of it!

  7. LS wrote:

    The Isaacs “Labor of Love” is stunningly beautiful, and there’s another gorgeous, ORIGINAL (praise God!) new song on the re-release of Jason Crabb’s Christmas CD. “Joseph” is worth buying the new version, even if you already have the previous one. My favorite lines…”you chose to stand between her and an angry world” and “you made no accusations, so no one could raise a stone”…I’ve never heard Joseph’s side of the story expressed quite like this.

  8. NG wrote:

    In keeping with Doug’s sentiments, here’s a video to enjoy:

  9. irishlad wrote:

    A small point perhaps,but i’thought Bocelli was a tenor and Groban a baritone.

  10. Janet B wrote:

    “Labor of Love” has been kicking around for 5 or 6 years or so…loved it from the first time I heard it. I have Randy Travis’ version - haven’t heard the Isaacs’ yet, but I will eventually.

    Doug - you just need to listen to your own music & stay away from the radio. One can only hear Winter Wonderland so many times in a one hour period, after all. :)

    However, you can do what I do when I’m stuck in an elevator or a dept store & can’t escape it - sing along, really loudly…in a different key.

    “Oh by gosh, by golly! It’s time for…MISTLETOE & HOLLY!”

    Or…change the words. Just a bit.

    “I’ll be home…with syphillis….”

  11. Soli Deo Gloria wrote:

    Who listens to the radio anymore?

  12. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    “Labor Of Love” may be great, but if you listen to that Isaacs CD all the way through, you’ll notice they cover a lot of the worn out classics.

    It sure would be refreshing to hear an entire CD of NEW Christmas music.

  13. Janet B wrote:

    DBM - You don’t need an entire CD of NEW Christmas music…just one of old Christmas music, with fresh arrangements.
    Listen to Steven Curtis Chapman’s God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen…O Little Town of Bethlehem…It Came Upon The Midnight Clear…Carol of the Bells…even Silver Bells.
    Or Michael W. Smith’s The Happiest Christmas…Sing Noel, Sing Hallelujah…as well as his new songs.
    One of my most un-favorite Christmas carols is We Three Kings, but Gordon Mote’s version on his piano CD is just gorgeous. I can listen to that. :)
    I’m no expert, but it seems to me - if I was recording a Christmas CD - that I would want to do something to make mine stand out from all of the others out there. You know - to make it worthwhile for people to spend their money on it. I mean - no one’s going to sing The Christmas Song like Nat King Cole, anyway - so why bother? ;)

  14. s.smith wrote:

    They started playing Christmas music last week at work; and I am already going bonkers! Not because it’s Christmas music, but it seems like they only play one album. It sounds like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir doing a Catholic mass. I have lost track of how many times I have heard “Ave Marie.” Someone compared it to funeral music. For the first time ever I am begging for ‘Jingle Bells!”

  15. HOPTOit wrote:


    WE LOVE the classics! The CLASSICS are CLASSICS because they are AMAZING! Rarely is a song written in these days that is CLASSIC material! Mary, Did You Know is one of the ONLY new Christmas songs that is a CLASSIC and guess what?! EVERYONE is singing it!

    On the Isaacs CD is a new christmas tune SANTA CLAUS IS REAL - that song is a CLASSIC waiting to happen! I’m just saying! :-) ITS A FANTASTIC tune!!!

  16. irishlad wrote:

    #13 Forget Palin, JanetB for President ….YES!

  17. quartet-man wrote:

    I see both sides of the fence. Many want to hear the classics. Sometimes even if they have it on CD, they want to hear artist X do it. However, I think it depends not only on the mood of the listener, but the strength of the new material. People are more willing to take new songs if thy are good and they have given them a chance.
    Maybe the best thing is to release a mixture. Of course I imagine David and I, Kyle and some others have a ton of music and have heard a ton. That might change things too.
    The Oak Ridge Boys have released 5 Christmas CDs and seem to mix it up. Some of the new songs they have done are really strong songs. Others not my cup of tea. At this point it is hard to think of traditional ones they have not done, but there are some still. There are many new ones of theirs I like, but more recently ones like “My Son” and “Beneath the Christmas Tree” are two I will mention.

    The Gatlin Brothers had a really good “new” song that I liked. It was called “Sweet Baby Jesus”. This isn’t the one the Easters did, but I liked that one some too.

    The Gaither Vocal Band did ones I like (including “Hand of Sweet Release”, “Reaching”, “Mary Did You Know” and “Fear Not”.

    The Martins had a good one “Heaven’s Child”.

    I really liked the original Legacy Five’s rendition of “Holy is Thy Name” on the Gaither video.

    I am forgetting quite a few I am sure, but will stop for now.

  18. Janet B wrote:

    So…I’ve got the support of one guy. In Ireland.
    Well….it’s a start. ;)

  19. Janet B wrote:

    @HOPTOIT - Yes, everyone is doing Mary Did You Know. Hence, the problem. (And, btw, it’s not nice to yell…)

    Last year, I purchased Faith Hill’s new Christmas cd. Every song, save one, is one that’s already been done, a thousand times over. Her versions were no different. And - that was what she wanted. She said that she wanted to sing the songs that she remembered singing/listening to growing up.
    Fine, Faith. But - it’s boring. There’s absolutely nothing about it that’s going to make me go back & listen again.
    The only song that was worth the price of the cd is A Baby Changes Everything. Now, why couldn’t she have put some of that pizazz into the rest of the selections?

  20. bayougurl wrote:

    Even though O Holy Night has been done to death, I caught a Gaither Homecoming concert a few years ago and heard David Phelps really rattle the rafters with it.

  21. wanderer wrote:

    #11. Thank God someone is listening to the radio ’cause that’s how I’ve been making my living for nearly 20 years.
    I start listening to my Christmas C-D’s mid Nov. I have all 5 of the Oak Ridge Boys plus many many others. I love ‘em. Just got Sandi Patty’s Christmas Live from last year. For about 6 or 7 weeks straight I listen to almost nothing but Christmas music.

  22. Casual Observer wrote:

    People don’t listen intently to Christmas music…that would require thought. They buy Christmas music for the atmosphere it creates. It’s little more than a soundtrack for the season…just background noise that puts them in the mood for celebrating because it beckons to their childhoods. It’s all about nostalgia. Those classics that we are all so weary of were mostly written around the time of the last World War, and they were cemented in our collective consciousness by movies, annual TV Christmas specials by every major celebrity, and radio…oh, and those Firestone Christmas albums. So I’m afraid we’re stuck with them. I just wish I owned the rights to one or two of them! k’CHING!

  23. Irishlad wrote:

    Ahem….Northern Ireland, Janet :)

  24. Soli Deo Gloria wrote:

    No.21, a lot of people spent 20 years in the typewriter business, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t buy computers. Typical southern gospel refusal to evolve. No personal offense intended.

  25. Ben Storie wrote:

    One of my favorite Christmas records is The Martins’ Light of the World. This collection of songs came out at a time when I thought The Martins hung the musical moon. And I really liked the original songs on that release, particularly “Heaven’s Child”, “Light of the World” and “O Bethlehem Town”. (Not to mention their incredible arrangement of O Come Emmanuel.) Generally, If I’m going to buy any new Christmas music, my purchases are probably driven by the new material included on the recording.

    It occurs to me as I write that I think there are certain seasonal and musical rules to follow in order to create terrific, lasting Christmas recordings. I’m just talking off the top of my head here, but I can’t think of any trendy Christmas recordings that survived until the next year. I won’t attempt to flesh out my argument, but I think its true.

    And at the risk of sounding like averyfinescrooge I’m probably going to start avoiding the radio too, beginning around Black Friday. I’ll choose my own mix of holiday music on my iPod and keep it in light rotation for most of the season. But only because a little Burl Ives goes a long way.

  26. wanderer wrote:

    #24. No offence taken. I’m just pointing out that radio is big business. If it wasn’t, Clear Channel wouldn’t own several hundred stations. By the way, I do not work in SG radio. I work in secular radio.

  27. KDM wrote:

    David Phelps’ first Christmas album was really great. The second one got all artsy and eclectic and didn’t tie together very well, but the first one (Joy, Joy, I think it was) is REALLY good. A couple of new songs, and some good, innovative arrangements of standards. And his performance was flawless.

    I’m with the majority here, when I get disappointed in folks who want to record ‘classic’ Christmas albums that sound like the ones they listened to when they were kids. Now, I’m all for nostalgia, but if I wanted to listen to Christmas records from the ’50’s and ’60’s, I WOULD. If I’m listening to 21st century artists, it’s because I want to hear something more evolved and up to date. Artists should stop rewashing the same tired old Christmas security blanket and go do something innovative!

  28. Janet B wrote:

    My apologies, IrishLad. ;)

    KDM - you want innovative…but you didn’t like David Phelps’ One Wintry Night because it was too “artsy?” So…which is it?
    His original songs on both albums are wonderful, particularly Joy, Joy; Hark the Herald; One King (which is MY favorite Christmas song, sorry Mark!). And, his versions of the classics, ie, Do You Hear What I Hear? and Away in a Manger…**sigh**…gorgeous.
    I am going to a Homecoming concert next Friday…getting to hear David sing O Holy Night in person is worth the whole trip.

    Now, if someone would just put me in charge of the playlist at a radio station in December… ;)

  29. Mixer wrote:

    If you want some “different” Christmas music, check out Downhere’s Christmas album on iTunes or if you’re really extreme, listen to Family Force Five’s Christmas album.

  30. Mixer wrote:

    Oh, better yet. Doug you’ll really enjoy Dave Barnes’ Christmas album. Fantastic!

  31. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    Wow. This is the last place I thought people would be opposed to hearing new songs.

    I’m all for it if an artist puts their own unique stamp on a song. I agree with you more than you think, actually. It would be nice to hear an entire album of new Christmas songs, sure, but I really enjoy Michael English’s Christmas CD as well. He doesn’t just cover standard arrangements.

  32. Johnny wrote:

    Hey, the Ruppe Sisters have a cool Christmas CD. You should listen to Kim sing “Your Presence” - hastanda shala monda…yes it nearly made this Baptist speak in tongues. Holy tabernacle batman, Kim rocks!

    Oh Holy night…no one can do it like Taranda, so everyone should stop trying…

  33. bayougurl wrote:

    Holy Drollery Johnny…that was flippin hilarious

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