I always loved Christmas music. When I was growing up, we listened to my mother's Ray Conniff records. I still love that cheesy Ray Conniff music. Now, don't get me wrong. We had some crazy Christmases way back when; we were the all alcohol family. I'll go there if you have the stomach to hear it. But, in addition to all the big fun, I have a lot of pleasant sentiment tied up in Christmases of yore, tied up in recreating the good Christmases we did have, recreating them for my own children, and for myself.
When I was in grade school, I was a member of the choir at the First Methodist Church where one year we performed the Gloria in Excelsis Deo. It was the height of my musical career. I continued to sing in junior high, and even learned singing for a year from Bill Boyer, but somewhere I lost my heart for singing out loud.
But I never lost my ear for good music. (A good ear, by the way, is a point of grace. It requires no work, no skill, no energy really, to listen and hear, just a sense of harmony. Sort of like The Shoveler in Mystery Men, I listen well. I listen really well.) (Whereas, he shoveled.) Though most of the time I am content to listen to sweet punk anthems and my singer-songwriter divas, I still enjoy Christmas music every year, especially songs I haven't heard before, or songs I've heard 1000 times before, but performed in styles I would otherwise never listen to.
That's the funny thing. I can say that I hate one or another form of music, but sometimes listening to a rendition of a beloved Christmas song will open up the whole genre to me. I came to love punk rock music in just this way.
I don't know much about music, really, what with my junior high musical education. But I've listened to many, many, many songs. I have an ear for a beautiful song, and for a musical phrase well-turned. I just love listening to music, and love can take one a very long way.
Since beginning this Web site in 1997, I have heard many strange and wonderful songs, many by artists I would otherwise never have heard anything about. Publishing this Web site has been what some people call a blessing.
(Richard Banks is a systems analyst for the Department of Aging and Disability Services in Austin, Texas.)