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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cool Christmas Albums: Bing Crosby - Merry Christmas

There was a time somewhere between my childhood and my adult life where it was considered way uncool to admit liking Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, all of those old-time crooners that were beloved by America so much in their day. I always laugh at the early Looney Tunes cartoons where they used Bing and Frank caricatures in various characters quite frequently. One in particular was the skinny rooster that was supposed to be a young Sinatra that had all the hens swooning left and right.

For us future generations, I think it's fair to say these alto supremes were a part of our young lives, whether it was the Bing Crosby Christmas special on CBS that is now famous for the duet with David Bowie on "What Child Is This." I picture of a warm living room with the aroma of fresh baked cookies, a lit Christmas tree, snow outside, unopened presents, cartoons on the t.v. with sound turned down as Bing croons those wonderful Christmas carols.

As an adult, I still feel maybe a little weird playing Bing at my cubicle with people around me, still wondering whether or not it's tres lame to not be playing Brian Setzer or Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but one has to let go of such insecurities and accept that it's cool being true to yourself, even if you're listening to something that's outright corny but still purely Christmas in its own right.

I think of Bing's renditions of "Jingle Bells" and "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" with The Andrews Sisters, and how they appear in one of my favorite films of all-time, A Christmas Story. I think of that World War II era and how simplistic life appears in comparison to our overcomplicated society of today. You have to figure all is relative to its time and place, given The Depression that preceded and a global conflict that could've destroyed the face of life as we know it now, and somehow Bing's voice gives comfort overtop it all, so much that life isn't so bad after all.

It's unique that so many of Bing's songs on this album are all standards you hear on the radio, even on Sirius satellite. “White Christmas,” “Silent Night,” “Silver Bells,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen…” I don’t think one person has ever had so much representation in single plays other than Bing. Even as things move forward and we’re all in such a hurry for this, that and the other thing, particularly since progress demands we keep pace, it’s nice that a throwback sound like Bing’s brings so much slow-paced comfort to a rapid-paced society as we have. That, and how can you not smile during “Mele Kalikimaka” and not think of Martin Scorsece’s neice stripping on the diving board in Chevy Chase’s dream sequence during Christmas Vacation? Ahhhh…..


OnMyWatch said...

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say...

good post!

fred charles said...

Trans Siberian Orchestra make me laugh every time I hear that song. Talk about cheese. I'd rather listen to Bing Crosby too.

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