Deck the halls and make merry. Tis the season to celebrate the wearing of ugly sweaters. Yes, late December has arrived and once again it has brought along with it the sticky gooey eggnogs and the lies to our children. Oh, I’m not talking about the Santa Claus myth. I believe in Santa completely. I’ve seen The Miracle on 34th Street and The Polar Express. I mean, Tim Allen didn’t believe and look what happened to him. I know those are just movies, but they ring true. Besides, frankly, even at my age, I’m not taking any chances with losing the presents. Enough said about that.
No, the lie I’m talking about is the one every parent tells their young child after the Winter Concert. “Gosh, Honey, that was so good. Your choir/ band sounded just like the professional one downtown. Miss Whatever sure does a great job with you kids.” Let’s face it, there isn’t an elementary school choir, or band for that matter, that sounds even remotely good, but we perpetuate the lie in the hopes they make the Competition Choir in high school. Just remember, odds are that three quarters of you will be disappointed. However, there will still be rum in the eggnog, so it all balances out.
Now, I didn’t tell you all this to make you all feel guilty and go join a monastery to atone for your sins. In fact, don’t do that. The food’s terrible. More to the point is I told these very lies myself many times and never felt a twinge of guilt. Besides there is hope, for me the lies worked. My sons did make the Concert Choir for their school. As for my daughter? Well, we’re hopeful.
All this brings me to the point of today’s story. The other day I went to the Winter Concert featuring my boys and it was great, and that’s no lie. The local newspaper confirmed it. Boy that was a long way around to get here but I assure it will be worth it.
The thing I wanted to mention about holiday concerts is the songs. I went to three of them this year and heard thirty-some different carols. Most of these I have never heard before. There is one thing school choir directors are very good at, finding Holiday Tunes nobody’s ever heard before. And it begs the question: why can’t radio station program directors do the same thing?
You only have to listen to the “All Christmas Music All The Time” station in your town to know I’m right. Because of my years listening to school singers, I know there must be over a billion songs written to celebrate winter, decorating houses and trees, all of the holidays that fall this time of year, and the stupid things people do to try to convince their children to behave. Sadly, both the local holiday stations in my neighborhood have narrowed that number to about twenty-five. They make up for the lack in variety by playing six different artist recordings of each of the songs and throwing in a novelty song twice a day. Like this is supposed to fool us into thinking they have amazing playlists. Hey, I don’t care if Do You Hear What I Hear? Is sung by Whitney Houston, Amy Grant, “Weird Al” Yankovic, or The Chipmunks, it’s still the Night Wind talking to the Little Lamb and so forth. And while we’re on the subject of “Weird Al”. He himself has written, and recorded, two Christmas tunes, The Night Sant Went Crazy and Christmas At Ground Zero. You won’t find those played on any station’s playlist no matter how many times you request it. I’ve tried. Yet, you can hear that Santa Claus Is coming to town every fifteen flipping minutes. It’s discrimination I tell you, and the AFL-CIO won’t do a thing about it.
One of the worst songs is Jingle Bells. It’s true that Bing Crosby, Barry Manilow, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, N’Sync, Ella Fitzgerald, The Beatles, Elvis and too many more other artists to mention have recorded versions of this tune, and all get some amount of airplay. Now with all that talent you’d think our three times and hour visit to this ditty should be an enjoyable nostalgic look back. NO! Some idiot with more time that brains, recorded dogs singing it. Now, in truth, this was funny the first ten or fifteen times I heard it. But then another fool, not to be outdone, did the same thing with chickens. So, what do we get on the radio? Bing then dogs then Ella then chickens, then Frankie, and obviously dogs again. Let’s just say it’s not the best airplay pattern in the history of man.
The thing is, as a radio listener I can turn this horribly monotonous playlist off whenever I want to. You can too. There’s a little button marked “Power” and if you press it the radio goes off. And there’s no place in this country where turning off the radio is a federal crime, I think. To my knowledge there aren’t any stations that chain listeners to chairs and subject them to these horrors twenty-four hours a day. But in truth I haven’t been everywhere.
I bring this up because we are becoming a service economy. More and more people are making their living in more and more retail establishments. These poor folks can’t just turn off the music like we can. Imagine being subjected to bad repetitive playlists for forty plus hours a week. I can. I was in retail for several holiday seasons and I still get the shakes when I hear Chuck Berry’s Run, Run, Rudolph. Is it any wonder we are constantly running into cranky clerks this time of year? We need to be helping these poor folks, not geting grumpy with them. Life is too short to be subjected to bad music choices for two months out of every year. It’s got to stop! It’s inhuman!
What can be done you ask? Well, maybe you didn’t ask, but it would be better for me if you did. So, I’ll continue, assuming you did ask. Again, what can be done? I haven’t the faintest idea. What we probably need is new songs but those have been slow in coming. Then again if you ask High-School Choir directors there are already millions of songs that they themselves are hiding. That’s it!! Instead of letting all those inexperienced artists pick their own songs to record, all recorded holiday music must first be approved by their school choir masters. Not only will all that wonderful music finally make it out of the folders of obscurity, choir directors, the people with the real talent, will finally be a part of the music industry. It’s a win-win for everyone.
There, I wrote it. All that has to happen now is for that silly directer to read it. If this fountain of feces doesn’t get my princess into Concert Choir, nothing will.