A silly thing to ask, but I need to think out loud for a moment here.
A friend noted on Facebook this evening the following: “Listening to christmas music on the radio I realized that every carol and song has been recorded in every style and genre possible.”
It got me thinking – why ARE there no new Christmas songs? Why am I listening to the exact same Christmas music that my dad (and probably my grandfather) listened to at my age, and much younger? I’m pushing 40 and I can definitely tell I haven’t heard any new songs since I was five.
My dad is fond of pointing out at this time of year that “nobody ever writes any new ones, they just take the old ones and ‘jazz em up.'” He’s right. It’s as if Christmas music were some kind of black-box technology: Something that can only be maintained and repaired (adapted/ jazzed-up/ tinkered with), not created from scratch. Why is that?
Are you actually telling me that we’ve run out of things to say about the holiday season? Yes? Okay, so why haven’t we run out of things to say about a man and a woman getting together, or pursuing a relationship, or getting over one that’s been lost? Humans’ romantic love has been around far, far longer than has the celebration of Christmas, and is only slightly more complex. (Don’t get me started on what a mess the holiday has become – everything from the crass commercialism to the annual squabbles with the likes of the ACLU.)
So what’s the deal? Another trend, I’ve noticed, is for some singer (especially country singers) to record a ‘Christmas album’ consisting of “your favorite singer singing all the classic favorites.” Some years ago some slick outfit dug up Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” and Elvis singing, “Here Comes Santa Claus” and a few others, and slapped THAT onto a so-called ultimate Christmas album.
It makes me wonder – why AREN’T new holiday carols being written and recorded each year as with other songs? I’d wager good money that “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree” was the last original Christmas song ever written or recorded, and that song is probably fifty years old by now or close to it.
I think “Silent Night” was written almost 200 years ago….though I don’t mind the actual Christian Christmas songs as much – it’s the secular ones I get the most tired of since that’s what I hear in stores at this time of year. I could probably stand to hear “Away in a Manger” and “We Three Kings” a few hundred more times, but it’s gotten to the point where I have to actually go to church to hear those (not that there’s anything wrong with going to church) or play the song in my car or home if I want to hear it. (Come to think of it, new worship music is being written and recorded on a regular basis, and I imagine a few of these songs ARE Christmas-oriented.)
This isn’t the case with “Silver Bells” or “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Is it because those are less….controversial? Because they don’t mention Jesus – “the reason for the season?” Okay, fine. Write me some new songs about bells or candles or gift giving or lights or decorations or…..turkey or ham dinners, for that matter.
I just don’t get it. Why do we spend every holiday shopping season being beaten over the head with jazzed-up (but worn out) Christmas carols?