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Sunday, 22 December 2013

ELDER MUSIC: Christmas (Deep Sigh)

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

Christmas in Oz

Most Christmas songs fall into two categories: entirely too cheerful and thus depressing or depressing and thus depressing. I tend to lean more to the latter but that won't be entirely the case today.

We're also leaning in the direction of the blues as well. That wasn't planned, it's just the way the tunes reared their heads and said, "Use me.”

The first, though, is not the blues. It's an old English ditty sung by the KINGSTON TRIO.

The Kingston Trio

Wassail in old English means "Be you healthy.” It also traditionally involves hot mulled cider. I guess that's to keep you warm while you wander about wassailing all over the place. I wouldn't know. At that time of the year I have no trouble keeping warm here in Australia. Keeping cool is another matter. Here the Trio sing Somerset Gloucestershire Wassail.

♫ Kingston Trio - Somerset Gloucestershire Wassail

JIMMY WITHERSPOON really has this time of the year sussed out.

Jimmy Witherspoon

His contribution to our festival of jollity is called How I Hate to See Christmas Come Around. Nothing more needs to be said as far as I'm concerned.

♫ Jimmy Witherspoon - How I Hate to See Xmas Come Around

Now for something I imagine few of you were expecting, BOB DYLAN singing a Christmas song.

Bob Dylan

In fact he's released a whole album of such material, singing everything straight (or as straight as Bob ever gets). The album is called "Christmas in the Heart" for those who want to search it out. Here is a taste, Must Be Santa.

♫ Bob Dylan - Must Be Santa

Christmas in Oz

B.B. KING comes closest today to a celebration of Christmas.

BB King

That doesn't detract from the quality of his song, fortunately. It's called Christmas Celebration and he gives us some of his fine trademark guitar playing.

♫ B.B. King - Christmas Celebration

BIG JOHN GREER was active professionally between the late forties and mid-fifties.

John Greer

He played tenor sax as well as being a singer and played with Wynonie Harris and Bull Moose Jackson amongst others. He was a bit too fond of the booze and died from its effects in 1972.

His song may be the jolliest one today, We Wanna See Santa Do The Mambo.

♫ John Greer - We Wanna See Santa Do The Mambo

Christmas in Oz

JONATHAN COULTON and JOHN RODERICK sing that they want to be warm at Christmas time.

Jonathan Coulton & John Roderick

Well, Jon and John, that's very easily done. All you have to do is ring Qantas and book a trip to Oz or any other southern hemisphere country. Or even somewhere in the tropics. Easy peasy. Their lament is Christmas in July.

♫ Jonathan Coulton & John Roderick - Christmas in July

If I gave a prize for double entrendre Christmas songs, this next one would be a contender. There are actually quite a few in this category but I've pretty much omitted them, or used them in past years. There are a couple that will probably turn up in next year's column.

In the mean time you'll have to be content with JIMMY BUTLER.

Jimmy Butler

Jimmy reveals hidden meanings in virtually every common Christmas image. So, let's get on with it. This is Trim Your Tree.

♫ Jimmy Butler - Trim Your Tree

Christmas in Oz

If you wanted to come up with a name for your group that would not age well, THE HEPSTERS would fit that bill admirably.

The Hepsters

They started out around 1953 as the 5 Stars and were still attending school when they started performing at weekends around the traps in Cleveland, whence they came.

They made the acquaintance of an "exotic dancer" who got them a recording date where they recorded Rockin' And Rollin' With Santa Claus under the name of The Hepsters. They were influenced by other DooWop groups of the time and this shows in the song.

♫ Hepsters - Rockin' And Rollin' With Santa Claus

Christmas in Oz

Old Santa doesn't look as if he has the Christmas blues in that picture, but LITTLE ESTHER and MEL WALKER certainly do. JOHNNY OTIS as well, as it's his orchestra.

Esther, Mel & Johnny

They all have the Far Away Christmas Blues.

♫ Little Esther & Mel Walker with Johnny Otis Orchestra - Far Away Christmas Blues

I'll end with my traditional moment of couth. I think I've been doing this long enough now to be able to call it a tradition. Here is something by J.S. BACH.


The music is Ich wuenschte mir den Tod, an aria from his Cantata At the 2nd Day of Christmas, BWV 57. The singer is Ruth Holton.

♫ J.S. Bach - Ich wuenschte mir den Tod

Christmas in Oz

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Thanks for your Christmas special today! I especially enjoyed your comments and all those Santa shots.

Loved seeing him relaxing by the ocean. ;-)

Music was good too but Santa stolled the show !

Thank you, Peter, for the music and for the commentary! :)
Thank you for all your gifts to us all year long and best wishes for the coming year.

I'm scrolling through this and on the radio, KEXP Seattle, they're playing Greer's We Wanna See Santa Do The Mambo.

Still love Leon Redbone's Christmas Island album.

Merry Christmas, Peter & thanks for bringing back so many good ole' memories. I think you & your SO are very creative with this Sunday blog.........& I love it. May your New Year be prosperous!! Dee

I still think Nat Cole's version of "Have yourself a merry little Christmas" is the best holiday song ever. And btw,you have yourself a merry little one too.

Thank you for all the lovely, insightful posts thoughout the year. May 2014 be a good one for you. I found an oldie but goddie for "my" Christmas song - "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas."Totally corny but a lot of fun.

Thanks Nancy. Norma and I had completely forgotten that one. It must be sixty years since I even thought of hippopotamuses for Christmas. We went on to YouTube, and lordy, we could sing along without looking at the lyrics – the things that get stuck in the brain. It may be a contender for next year.

Thank you for this wonderful holiday collection.
Did you hear the group Pentatonix singing'Little Drummer Boy"
wishing you Joy,Peace and Good Health.

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