Sunday, December 23, 2007

Modified humbug

I'm not religious but I really like a lot of religious music. Plenty of proper, old-fashioned Anglican hymns (none of your hands-aloft nonsense) seem to be tattooed on my DNA; and I really love classic black gospel, the Soul Stirrers and the Swan Silvertones and Sister Rosetta Tharpe and all that.

Similarly, Christmas I can give or take, but I always used to get a little tingle when the Sally Army band showed up at Victoria station, especially when they got to 'In The Bleak Midwinter'. And I'll probably listen to the carols from King's College tomorrow. Call me predictable.

I did a YouTube search for a little Yuletide titbit to offer my long-suffering readers, and came across Peter, Paul and Mary singing 'Go Tell It On The Mountain', a tune I associate with the year I spent in Canada. It was great, but not quite what I wanted, and foolishly, I then followed a link to 'Puff the Magic Dragon' which is not only non-Christmassy, but also one of the saddest songs ever written: in fact, I'm tempted to say that the single line "A dragon lives forever but not so little boys" packs into nine words more pathos that Blake's entire Songs of Innocence and Experience and the final chapter of The House at Pooh Corner combined. Yeah, OK, I'm not afraid to say that it made me cry.

Which is even more unseasonal, I suppose, if you're worried about that sort of thing. So here's Mahalia Jackson. The footage is a bit primitive, but the old girl's got a decent set of pipes in her.



I won't presume to impose a Happy Christmas on you, but non-specific good wishes are coming your way, and a mince pie may be raised in your general direction. See you on the other side.

16 comments:

Murph said...

Don't go near "Two Little Boys" by Rolf Harris without a risk assessment.

Happy non-gender-specific canine greets to yourself and the smallest Boo....

Geoff said...

Yesterday morning was spent compiling a Christmas CD including Mahalia's Joy To The World and a couple of Mormon Tabernacle Choir carols, along with all the secular stuff.

As I get older I'm getting less cynical about Christmas and even get sentimental about the story, especially when it's accompanied by beautiful music.

Add this to Dickens and MR James on the telly and I can get through the season without scowling too much.

Betty said...

When I was a kid my parents had a Christmas album they'd bought from Woolworths which they played incessantly. It annoyed me so much that I "accidentally" sabotaged it with some glittery 1970's nail varnish. There were songs on it by Aretha Franklin and Mahalia Jackson. Ye gods, I was such an idiot ...

Merry holidays Tim.

Billy said...

I don't like religious music, it's cheating trying to big God up like that.

I do like Puff the Magic Dragon though. I've long tried to model myself after Peter. Or is it Paul. You know, the Jewish looking one.

Annie said...

Happy holidays, you lucky sod.
(wish I was in Thailand right now...)

9/10ths Full of Penguins said...

ta for the mince pie.

Happy christmas...

M.A.Peel said...

"Once in royal David's city . . . "

Meet you in the second to last pew on the right.

FirstNations said...

have a good holiday, tim. and thanks for the mahalia jackson!

Tim Footman said...

Small Boo sends her love, Murph. She's got a soft spot for the darker dog.

It does seem to sneak up on you, doesn't it, Geoff? Like hairy ears and a saggy chin.

Your parents sound pretty cool cats, Betty.

Billy, I reckon they both look pretty kosher, but Peter (the short one) is the real deal.

No you don't, Annie. Big political hoo-ha brewing, I reckon.

Don't get crumbs in your beard, 9/10.

See you there, Mrs Peel. What are you putting in your hipflask?

A pleasure as always, FN.

And may Mithras (who used to have his party at this time of year, until the Jesus people moved in) beam benevolently upon you all.

M.A.Peel said...

Tim, I've got a killer eggnog recipe, using a pint of Hagen Daz ice cream and lots of brandy. Details over at my place.

Tim Footman said...

Mmmmm.... nice.

I'm sticking with neat Capt Morgan.

The lessons are a bit off at Cambridge. The stump of Jesse reader can't pronounce his 'R's, which is a bit of a problem. But the choons are banging as the young people have it.

Jun Okumura said...

There was a time before you were born, Timmy, when Mahelia Jackson was Christmas. There was Perry Como, but he didn't really count.

Merry Christmas.

Rimshot said...

Ho, ho, ho! The very Merriest of Christmases to you good Sir. May the holiday spirit stay with you and all throughout the year.

A pint (or seven) will be hoisted in your honor.

Tim Footman said...

JO: Perry Como certainly doesn't count, because we Brits had Val Doonican.

I once drank seven pints in under two hours on Christmas day, Rimshot. Then half a bottle of Southern Comfort. There are other things I can't quite manage any more, but we'll leave that for another day. And festive felicitations to you.

llewtrah said...

Season's Greetings. This year's musical theme was a headbanging Nativity in Black!

Tim Footman said...

With Lemmy as Santa?