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Posted on Dec 23, 2012 8:50:38 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 23, 2012 8:53:22 AM PST
Cavaradossi says:
William A. Smith

On the dumbing down of our culture......

I haven't paid too much attention (well, scarcely any at all, really) to the disappearance of White Christmas, but it's not surprising. The current idea that anything written before yesterday has little to no value and thus holds no interest for people under twenty seems to have invaded just about every area of the culture. I'm surprised that the classic Christmas carols even appear on commercial radio or tv specials. (Wait, did I just write that? I don't even know if they do! Perhaps they don't. That "Silent Night" thingy is awfully Christian, isn't it? Better chuck it, just to be safe!)

Our local PBS radio station plays only classic carols, Renaissance Christmas music, and carols from other nations. It's great. White Christmas, Have Yourself, and Jingle Bells don't appear on it unless they are in medleys or on special Christmas programs they air. Having the station on really adds to the Christmas spirit.

Still, it's nice to occasionally hear the standard Christmas popular songs. They have their place, too. Sorry to hear White Christmas is missing in action. I can't remember the last time I heard it; it must have been a long time ago.

Posted on Dec 23, 2012 8:57:13 AM PST
Cavaradossi says:
William A. Smith

I know that the local PBS station has carried Lawrence Welk regularly in the recent past. They may even still do so, though I haven't noticed it in their listings lately. If it returns, I think I will watch a show or two. There's always room for a little nostalgia in my day.

Posted on Dec 23, 2012 9:00:16 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 23, 2012 9:05:48 AM PST
Kacee says:
I'm not sure if Songs Of Praise is broadcast on BBC America?

Brilliant guests, including Katherine Jenkins, Kevin Whately and Only Boys Aloud.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p012tkzy

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p012tlj2

Merry Christmas to everyone and best wishes for 2013.

Posted on Dec 23, 2012 9:02:51 AM PST
Cavaradossi says:
Kacee

Does Kevin Whately sing? Lewis, we hardly knew ye!

Posted on Dec 23, 2012 9:08:11 AM PST
Cav: On Christmas music, I stick pretty much to medieval and Renaissance material, with an occasional excursion into the popular material. Yes, even some rather strange ones, like the John Waters Christmas album, and the not quite as strange--the Beach Boys Christmas album. Little Saint Nick is always a giggle.

Do you know Praetorius - Mass for Christmas Morning, McCreech's reconstruction of a Lutheran service, circa 1650 or so? Worth having for everything, but in particular Praetorius' gigantic setting in In Dulci Jubilo.

Have Yourself is just about the same vintage as White Christmas, but it infests the airwaves. Do you know the history of the lyrics? The original version was so depressing that Judy Garland refused to sing it in Meet Me In St. Louis. See below:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
It may be your last
Next year we may all be living in the past
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Pop that champagne cork
Next year we may all be living in New York
No good times like the olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us no more
But at least we all will be together
If the Lord allows
From now on, we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

The revised version in the film is still pretty melancholy:

Have yourself a merry little christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be
Out of sight
Have yourself a merry little christmas
Make the yule-tide gay
Next year all our troubles will be
Miles away
Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Will be near to us once more
Someday soon, we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then, well have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little christmas now.

Sinatra asked the lyricist to re-write one line when he recorded it, and that is the version we hear now:

Have yourself a merry little christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be
Out of sight
Have yourself a merry little christmas
Make the yule-tide gay
Next year all our troubles will be
Miles away
Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Will be near to us once more
Someday soon, we all will be together
If the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough;
So have yourself a merry little christmas now.

Still depressing, and very, very sentimental.

Is White Christmas--referring to snow, of course--insufficiently inclusive for the modern audience? Who obviously don't bother to listen to lyrics?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 23, 2012 9:16:11 AM PST
Kacee says:
Cavardossi,
Lol, I expect he can sing but I don't know if he does in the programme.:) I haven't watched it all the way through.

Posted on Dec 23, 2012 9:27:32 AM PST
Larry Kelley says:
Mr. Smith: Whenever I hear "May you Have a Merry Little Christmas" I always think of the scene in the movie "The Victors" where private Slovik is being taken out to be executed. At the time the music/scene seemed to clash and it was a bit of a shock--but with the original lyrics that you just listed, it seems much more appropriate. I never think of that scene without thinking of "A clockwork orange" when the old man is being kicked to the sounds of "Singing in the Rain". Another shocking moment with the clash of a pleasant song/that reminds you of a famous and happy scene in another movie, used as background for the stomping of an old man--with the kicks to the body in time with the music. Most Christmas music at my age is just background noise although Bing's "White Christmas" always brings a listen. I like Elvis on "Blue Christmas" just because I like the way he sings it. The only song I will always listen to, if it is not be massacred by someone in love with their own voice, is "O Holy Night".

Posted on Dec 23, 2012 9:55:50 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 23, 2012 9:57:15 AM PST
Well, I am a huge enthusiast for Christmas music--which some definite views, of course. Christmas is about the unexpected intersection of the divine and the human, the sudden and miraculous gift, coming at the turning point of the year when encroaching darkness begins to give way to increasing light. It is the most joyous of all the holidays on the calendar, and has produced the most joyous music of any holiday--even more so than Easter. It's not about lively snowmen, or red-nosed reindeer. The popular representations of the holiday can hit the mark--that is the secret, I think, of the enduring popularity of A Christmas Story, which really does give the sense of the miraculous gift, mixed in with a great many other pleasures.

I haven't a lot of patience with the most sentimental numbers--if I never hear Have Yourself (discussed above) or The Little Drummer Boy, or even Silent Night again, it will be too soon. On the other hand, I can't get enough of the best. Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra did some spendidly lush orchestral albums back in the 1960s: Glorious Sound of Christmas for one. The Praetorius recording I cited above is essential, as are a series of recordings by the Boston Camerata, including A Medieval Christmas,Sing We Noël: Christmas Music from England and Early America, and A Renaissance Christmas, among others. One of the finest Christmas works ever is Vaughan Williams: Hodie (A Christmas Cantata)/Fantasia on Christmas Carols--I defy anyone to find anything more beautiful than John Shirley-Quirk in the setting of Herbert's "The shepherds sing", and the Willcocks reading is definitive.

Any of these expresses the holiday for me.

Posted on Dec 23, 2012 11:14:47 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 23, 2012 11:19:20 AM PST
Let's not forget Benjamin Britten's "Ceremony of Carols."

And two decent "popular" Christmas tunes: "Silver Bells" written for the Bob Hope comedy film "The Lemon Drop Kid" and "The Christmas Song" (Chestnuts roasting, etc.) the lyrics of which were written by Mel Torme during a heat wave in Los Angeles or Pasadena or someplace like that.

I'm hoping to get through the season without having to hear "Jingle Bell Rock." So far, so good.

Which reminds me a few words from an Ogden Nash poem about the Holidays and commercialism:

"This December twenty-fifth I am going to turn off everything electrical in the house
And spend the day just like Tiny Tim or Mr. Pickwick.
You make me sickwick."

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 23, 2012 11:31:54 AM PST
Larry Kelley:

"O Holy Night" reminds me of a Christmas television broadcast of "Your Hit Parade" that was being broadcast in the 1950s live from under the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

Their lead singer, Snooky Lanson, got out the first three words of "O Holy Night" and then went up the rest of the lyric. One of those occasions in which if you could die, you would live happily ever after.

Posted on Dec 23, 2012 11:48:31 AM PST
Larry Kelley says:
Bruce: I am a seeker of the perfect version of O Holy Night. I have heard it by just about everyone, every choir. Of the two top best, one is not available (as far as I know). That was by the Choir Director of The Texas Aggies choir back in the mid 1960's on the Michael Douglas show. He sang it acapella, and what a voice. Raised the hair on the back of my neck. The next best, which is available on Youtube.com is by Sissel. There are several versions by her, the absolute best I have ever heard is on the one that shows her very young with blonde hair. Just amazing. Incredible voice. That version (crs) may be in Swedish--doesn't matter, you'll love it.

Posted on Dec 23, 2012 11:56:05 AM PST
The Britten Ceremony of Carols is a fine piece. There are numerous other pieces I could mention, of course.

For those interested: do not forget that at 10 AM Eastern Time tomorrow, the BBC will be broadcasting the annual Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge, generally available on NPR.

Posted on Dec 23, 2012 12:42:41 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:
William A. Smith

Yes, I have heard the Praetorius and it is glorious. I heard it on the radio at least twice as our local PBS radio station used to play it a Christmas time. I don't own the recording, but maybe I should rectify that before it's too late, if it isn't already.

Like Larry, I first really became aware of Have Yourself.... with its use in "The Victors". The soundtrack album includes it in a Sinatra version, if I recall correctly. (I'm assuming he recorded it more than once.) Those original lyrics are dismaying, aren't they? No wonder Garland didn't want to sing it; for once, she had an attack of taste.

I'm sure I probably heard it before The Victors, but it apparently didn't make much of an impression before then.

Posted on Dec 23, 2012 2:02:03 PM PST
Cav: You hadn't heard it in Meet Me in St. Louis??

Posted on Dec 23, 2012 2:41:21 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:
William A. Smith

I confess I've never seen Meet Me in St. Louis. I'm not much of a Judy Garland fan. I usually avoid her movies if they don't also star Mickey Rooney. The obvious exception is The Wizard of Oz, of course.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 23, 2012 3:53:18 PM PST
stevign says:
re: "Yes, I have heard the Praetorius and it is glorious"

I heard at first the humble Dr. Noah Praetorius refused to compose music because he said "People will talk", but later gave in after being seduced by a younger woman. Is that true?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 23, 2012 4:03:25 PM PST
Cav: A man after my own heart. Her most enjoyable films are the backyard musicals with Rooney. Frankly, I would be quite happy never to see Wizard of Oz again. Meet Me In St. Louis is awfully sticky. The only one of her other films that doesn't give me hives is The Harvey Girls. (Judgment at Nuremberg is another kettle of fish, of course.)

Posted on Dec 23, 2012 4:04:41 PM PST
stevign: Michael Praetorius. Not Noah.

We are not amused.

Posted on Dec 24, 2012 6:34:49 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 24, 2012 6:38:28 AM PST
Cavaradossi says:
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone. It looks like we're going to have a White Christmas where I live, not something we get every year.

Alert to all kitten lovers: the Animal Planet channel is showing several hours of kittens on "Too Cute!" starting this morning. Check your local listings. What a great way to start Christmas Eve.

AMC is showing White Christmas sometime today, if you can tolerate that commercial strewn channel. Once one of the most indispensable cable channels ever, AMC has descended into the pits, except for their house TV series. When it comes to exhibiting movies, though, it has become a total loss. Still, I haven't seen WC listed anywhere else today. Maybe tomorrow......?

Judy Garland fans (I'm not) might like to know that some of her films will air on TCM today, and an Andy Hardy festival begins there tomorrow evening and runs throughout much of the night. Now, that's more like it!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 6:45:17 AM PST
stevign says:
re: "AMC has descended into the pits, except for their house TV series"

Bravo used to have excellent programing; Art, Music, etc, but a few years ago they seemed to become "The Gay Channel" and now the "All Reality TV" channel.

Posted on Dec 24, 2012 7:31:49 AM PST
Now is the time to watch Alastair Sim in the best version of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" ever put to film. It was finally beautifully restored a few years ago. Make it a point to skip the colorized version of this classic.

Posted on Dec 24, 2012 8:06:24 AM PST
Cavaradossi says:
stevign

The Arts & Entertainment channel (A&E) used to actually show arts, with operas, ballets, and concerts regularly featured. Talk about falling into the pit - A&E fell to the bottom of one and then begin vigorously digging downward! I don't even know what they carry these days since they lost me as a viewer years ago.

TV was supposed to get better with all these hundreds of channels. Are we really surprised that it hasn't?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 9:07:58 AM PST
Cavardossi:

Agreed. What is needed is something like the BBC or the CBC in the US. But for this country to have a non-commercial television/radio service supported by mandatory annual funding by viewers would simply be out of the question. Can you imagine Americans agreeing to a law-imposed annual licensing fee to support it? Dream on.

Posted on Dec 24, 2012 9:30:53 AM PST
BGT: Government-run broadcasting would be worse that what we have now.

The only way we get better programming is to demand it, and not watch what the networks feed us. The only useful legal lever I can think of is to require cable companies to let viewers select what channels they want, and pay accordingly.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 10:58:13 AM PST
WAS:

I said something like the BBC, not "government-run broadcasting." The BBC is considered by many to be the finest broadcasting service on the planet. I suggest you read Wikipedia's piece on the BBC, specifically its charter, which may save you from making yourself ridiculous.
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Discussion in:  Movie forum
Participants:  53
Total posts:  10000
Initial post:  May 8, 2012
Latest post:  Jun 5, 2013

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