I have a confession to make. What I am about to tell you is a bit shocking and maybe a little disgusting. It may just change the way you look at me. But, I think I can’t go on unless I admit this to someone. That someone is you, dear reader.
I have a thing about Christmas music. It’s almost a sickness. I love Christmas songs.
Now, you may already know this, but I am a music geek. My primary love is hard rock/heavy metal music. But, I do enjoy listening to other genres such as classic rock, alternative rock, electronic, hip hop, jazz, classical, and pop/dance. Mind you, I do not listen to those other genres a lot. But, I will throw on some Kanye West, Nine Inch Nails, Mumford and Sons, Coldplay, or Miles Davis from time to time. Mostly, though, I like rock. Hard rock and metal, especially. I have, um, a pretty big music library. I think it’s somewhere over 80 gigabytes of music on my computer (And, yes, I buy a lot of music. I have, from time to time, “borrowed” from the interwebz. But, many times I turn around I buy the music if I like it or delete it if I don’t.)
With a large library of songs like this, over 10,000 songs, 900+ artists, and so on, I try to keep my iTunes organized. (I realize some people will criticize my use of iTunes and I don’t care. I like the integration with my computer and iPod.) I make sure that individual artists are alphabetized by last name first, for example. I cannot figure out why both iTunes Store and Amazon sell music with the artist’s first name first. For example, if you buy a Neil Diamond album (and you should buy several of the classic, early albums, or at least Hot August Night!) then it will get filed in the “N” section for Neil, which is rediculous. I worked at two different music stores (Kids, a music store was a place you went to buy tapes or CDs or even records. What are those? Forget it.) Neil Diamond should be alphabetized as “Diamond, Neil.” Always. Kanye is under “West.” Nikki is under “Minaj.” Pink Floyd is under “Pink” though. ‘Cause no one is named Pink in that band, ‘kay?
I also keep them organized by genres and like to make sure track names are correct. Nothing drives me crazier than seeing “Track 1,” “Track 2,” etc. I want my tracks to have album art, as well. So, I have gone to some trouble to organize my library.
And, I have a genre called “Christmas.” That’s all that it is, too. Songs for the December holiday. I realize there are other holidays during this time, but I barely observe Christmas, much less Hanukkah or Kwanza. So, I have Christmas and Christmas-related music in that genre. And, once a year, on the day after Thanksgiving, usually, I make room on my iPod for that collection of songs and I only listen to them during the holidays up to January 1st. Then, they’re off the iPod and “mothballed” until next year, just like the lights on my house.
It started about ten years ago. I don’t recall when, exactly, but at some point, I decided to get one of those classic Christmas compilations. I might have downloaded them from some file share, I don’t recall. I know a lot of them were low bitrate and sounded tinny. But, that kicked it off. I amassed a nice little collection over a short period of time. Then, something happened to my computer, like a hard drive crash, or something. Or maybe it was stolen. I’m not sure. But, I didn’t have a backup. I had to pull a lot of songs off my iPod to recover them and it wasn’t Christmas season, so they were gone. I started over.
This was a couple years ago. Amazon has been awesome, selling compilations for pennies a song. I also got a couple CDs from Costco that had nice selections. Two of my favorites have been the Bing Crosby “Voice of Christmas” and Frank Sinatra’s “Holly Jolly Christmas” albums. Such good recordings! The nice thing has been that I have gotten much higher quality files by purchasing them. Go figure. Anyway, I now have just over 700 Christmas songs. So much fun!
Being a music nerd, I decided to make playlists for the Christmas music. There’s one omnibus playlist that has all the Christmas songs in it. Then, I made one for just Jazz Christmas songs. There’s one for Classical Christmas music (i.e. an orchestra playing the songs). I made one called Christmas Modern that is all songs from the 1980’s on through today. But, my favorite by far is the Christmas Classics which is all songs from the 1940’s through 1960’s. That, to me, is the classic era for Christmas music. Bing, Frank, Dean Martin, Eartha Kitt, Mel Torme, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Andy Williams, Burl Ives, all of those. That is the sound of Christmas as far as I’m concerned. I love the horns and bells in those songs, and sometimes the strings. I love the intersection of big band, jazz, rock, Hollywood musical, and crooners in these songs. There is, I think, an innocence in these songs, too. I don’t necessarily think that the time period is as ideal as it is sometimes made out to be, but I can’t escape the feeling that it was just a different, sweeter time to live. It is at once, classy and corny and all around wonderful.
Wanna know something weird? Okay, weirder? My favorite Christmas song, hands down, is “Carol of the Bells.” I love that song. The melody is dark and yet magical at the same time. “Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells, all seem to say, throw cares away…” Ahhhhh. That’s the stuff right there. I think I have about 8 versions of that song. I like the instrumentals, the acapellas, the electronic versions, all of them. Such a beautiful song, if you ask me.
So, that’s my secret. I love Christmas music and I spend a little too much time thinking about it. But, only for about four weeks a year.