Christmas Time Is Here (Vocal Version)
Vince Guaraldi Trio
A Charlie Brown Christmas
We’re at Kringle Minus 6, people! Clearly it’s time for me to stop diving deep into the back-catalogues and give up any attempt to make myself seem like the Ahmet Ertegun of my generation. Although yes, admittedly, inserting a reference to one of the 20th century’s seminal discoverers and promoters of musical talent is definitely a nod towards hipness. It’s a fair cop.
But look, we can’t waste precious minutes arguing over my desperate need to mask my own straight-from-squaresville tastes! We’ve got limited time left to talk about Christmas songs! So screw it: I’m going obvious. Yes, it’s That Song We All Love from That Christmas Special We Can’t Even Pretend We’re Sick Of.
Don’t think I don’t know what just happened. You’re on the Internet and you’ve just read a blog post in which the author has made a definite statement of some kind. You’re like a largemouth bass who’s just seen a jelly worm at the end of a Red Devil spoon lure splash down in front of you. You just have to snap at it, even as your rational brain says “No good can possibly come of this.” You’ve already clicked the “Reply” button and pasted in a mockingly dismissive LOLcat that you encountered on a gaming board a few days ago, haven’t you?
Fine. I know you have to keep proving to yourself that you ride at the gates of dawn and that your likes and dislikes cannot be predicted by any Earthly king. I suppose that this video clip does absolutely nothing for you, then.
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Are we agreed that “Christmastime Is Here” is a tough, tough song to cover? It’s so indelibly associated with “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Plus, it’s perfect for a children’s chorus: it feels as though it was written and arranged to ensure that it can be sung well by 24 middle-schoolers whose vocal abilities range from “she’s good enough to become a serious student of vocal technique” all the way to “that one, with the hair: we’ll just give him two red sticks to bang together.”
That’s not a slam against the song, mind you. I mean, dammit, this song works. It seems as though the only way you could ruin it is by trying to turn it into a showcase of anybody’s talents as a singer, arranger, or producer. Would any singer — even an American Idol finalist — accept and implement the direction “Don’t think. Just sing”?
Am I starting to get mired in nostalgia, here? God, I hope not. I’m at least thirty years too young and have been in several wars too few to get nostalgic about anything. And yet this song puts me right back in my parents’ living room, having counted down the days to the Charlie Brown Christmas airing for two weeks. It also puts me right back on a stage at the far end of a middle-school gym, standing on a folding metal riser, trying to pick out my grandparents in the audience while the music teacher gets more and more frustrated by her ability to make all of us focus, and getting closer and closer to losing it right there in front of the principal.
Well, it’s Christmas. It’s the appropriate time to stare out the front window at the snow and feel a little Wistful about things. And it’s at least more genuine if you get nostalgic about a (rightly) beloved Christmas special instead of, say, caroling door-to-door. A Charlie Brown Christmas is a part of my actual childhood. It isn’t someone else’s memory of a Traditional Christmas. I’m glad I have memories of lying on my belly on my parent’s forest-green carpet, instead of freezing my butt off singing about the arrival of the Christ child to a neighbor who was too polite to say “Didn’t you see the mezuzah nailed to my door frame when you stepped up to ring the bell?”
Listen to “Christmastime Is Here” on the Amazon MP3 Store.
Continuing another Beloved Holiday Tradition, the above link is embedded with my Amazon Associates code. If you click it, all of the purchases you make during that session will result in my receiving a small kickback in the form of Amazon Gift Credits. I promise to spend them joyously and foolishly.