To make me sound older than I am, I'll tell you that if you wanted Christmas music when I was growing up, you put on some records. It's the truth. I only remember one Christmas cassette in our house. There was no satellite radio station playing carols 24/7, no cable music channel and certainly no iTunes playlist with 249 carols locked and loaded like I have now.
One of my favorite LPs was Bing Crosby's "Merry Christmas" record from 1973. I know that Crosby Christmas albums are a dime a dozen, but you might remember this one -- it featured him wearing a Santa hat on the front cover with a bow-tie made of holly. It had all of the traditional Crosby pieces on it and, as such, became a popular piece of vinyl at casa de Fletch.
I was blessed with my first-ever "compact disc player" in 1992 for my 15th birthday. And so the next year, it was a modernized, CD-version of "Merry Christmas" that I was looking for in that K-Mart. Instead, I picked up Crosby CD called White Christmas on the LaserLight label. I popped it in the player and was immediately disappointed to hear talking...
"A couple of teen-aged tunesmiths around Hollywood here, Mel Torme and Bob Wells, have penned an item which I consider quite appropriate for tonight. It's sort of a musical Christmas card. Skitch and I'd like to do it for you. It's called The Christmas Song." [ Link to audio clip ]
I wanted a music CD, not one with talking.
The CD, as it turns out, is a recording of Crosby's Kraft Music Hall radio show from the 1940s -- complete with introductions for several of the songs. Crosby is backed by the Paul Weston Orchestra and the Normal Luboff Choir. I can only imagine that the reference to Skitch is band-leader Skitch Henderson. None of this stuff is the type of music that draws the normal 15-year-old in... but, as you know, I'm a little different. Of course, it could have been the fact that this was the only Christmas CD I owned, but it got plenty of play and I quickly grew to love it.
There's something about Crosby's voice that's soothing -- an element that compliments the calm I seek out in the still night of Christmas Eve.
"All across the world tonight, wherever there are people, you can hear the same age-old words of friendship. And in the Christmas carols we're singing tonight, the words carry the innermost feelings of all of us. I hope that you're singing with us and I know if you are, you're enjoying it." [ Link to audio clip ]
I hope that you find that calm, too, as "Christmas casts its magic spell across the world"... And I hope that that wherever you are or whatever you're doing tonight, you're happy.
"Those are the bells of the Church of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Tonight, as Christmas casts its magic spell across the world, we'd like to sing again the song which describes a peaceful holy land. A Holy Land of countless years of faith. Carolers, let's sing O Little Town of Bethlehem."
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight
-Rector Phillips Brooks
(Here's the link to the song if the embeded player doesn't load.)