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Christmas Music

Comments Off on Christmas Music 14 November 2017

Christmas Music

I am delighted to read that Marks and Spencer has banned “festive” songs and that Asda is introducing a daily Christmas music-free hour. It is not that I dislike Christmas – on the contrary: this atheist really likes Christmas – but that the repetition of the same old songs on an endless loop drives me mad; in the case of some workers, literally so.

I once spend a miserable pre Christmas period working for Tesco, based on the shop floor. By the end of my first day, I was spitting feathers. For all its lyrical inaccuracies – for example, the NYPD does not have a choir – I used to love The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s, Fairytale of New York. Now, I turn it off as soon as the introduction begins. The same with Stop the Cavalry, Merry Christmas Everybody and all the usual suspects that are pumped out from the middle of November until the New Year. Hearing the songs once in a working morning was bad enough for me, but four or five times every single morning? By 11.00 am, I knew the precise order of songs and I was starting to gnash my teeth knowing that Jona Lewie was next.

I don’t know if the Christmas music represents the exploitation of Christmas, as so many other things are believed to do. I have seen plenty of people complaining about how everything begins too early these days and I almost felt like joining in until it occurred to me that I too had done plenty of Christmas (booze) shopping already. I have also ordered various presents and traipsed around a number of shops and garden centres. I’d best not join in the complaining. I’d be complaining about myself, which is probably not a great idea.

When we talk about exploitation, what we mean is that people are making money on the bag of a dead Palestinian who may or may not have ever existed, depending on your religious standpoint. The trouble is that Christmas has next to nothing to do with religion in the first place. Obviously, to the devout, it’s a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ but little of the paraphernalia surrounding the festive period bears much relationship to scripture. Trees, the exchanging of presents and trains not running have little to do with religion. Much of it is man made. And it’s all the better for it.

I love the idea of being with the people I love for a short time once a year. It brightens up the darkest time of the year. We can buy presents for people we love and we can, for just a short period, be nice to everyone around us. We can all sit together and complain about just how bad TV is this year and eat excessive amounts of things we won’t touch during the rest of the year. And we can listen to some Christmas music that isn’t Jona Lewie, Slade or Gary Glitter…er…I mean the Pogues.

On the music front, I try to buy a new Christmas album every year. God knows there are enough of them out there. In recent years, I have purchased the Christmas albums by Christopher Cross, James Taylor and, the best of them all (seriously) Bob Dylan. This year, it’s going to one of the festive records by the American acapella group Pentatonix and, from left field, Twelve Tales of Christmas by Tom Chaplin, the lead singer of Keane, which is a classic in the making.

And one song I will certainly play to death is Tim Minchin’s White Wine in the Sun, my favourite Christmas song ever, one that makes me think of my late dad, not least because Minchin makes reference to looking forward to being with his own father. Sit quietly, on your own, in a darkened room and watch the video on You Tube. I like Christmas and I love music. Put together, they make a very good team.

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