Tag Archives: Christmas music

The Monday CD: DECEMBER by George Winston

decemberSo it’s close enough to Thanksgiving now that we can listen to Christmas music with impunity, right? Because I LOVE George Winston’s CD December. In high school I used to listen to it in bed at night, falling asleep to the piano sounds of snow. Now I haul it up on Pandora, turn it up on the Christmas stations, and even play some of it on my dulcimer.

December is what the Christmas season SHOULD sound like – even when it’s moving fast, it’s got a relaxed feel to it, and a sense of holistic purpose. It untangles the inner knots of your stomach. It lets you remember that yes, this too shall pass, and there’s more than one way to see a situation, resolve an argument, and play “Greensleeves.”

DEFINITELY more than one way to play “Greensleeves.”

I look forward to this CD all year – it’s one of those seasonal treats, like strawberries, that should only be played during the time period. (Although I did once haul the CD out during an August heat wave, as a kind of reminder that this too would pass.)

Yes, I recognize this CD is not a book, but you know, if you listen to it start to end, you actually hear the story of December passing. It’s kinda cool that way.

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

A Thing I Look Forward to All Year

This Sunday will be the Epiphany service at the Methodist church the next town over. “Lessons and Carols” is a collection of just about every musician for three counties ’round packing out the big, beautiful, Norman-esque Norton church to do Christmas music. (No, the Normans didn’t reach Wise County in the Middle Ages, but some architects apparently sent missionaries.)

I look forward to this event–held the third Sunday in January–all year. Maybe it’s because it comes after the crush is over; most of the tinsel and glitter are out of the floorboard cracks; lawn decorations sit in boxes at the base of attic stairs. It’s January: cold, bleak, emotionally exhausted and financially drained January. We may as well sing together as face Winter alone.

And there’s just something about Christmas carols, when you don’t have to think about all the other stuff surrounding the holidays, that goes straight into your veins. When you can really hear them, their messages are exhilarating.

Musicians dust off sheet music and embrace hastily-cobbled partnerships–bluegrass trio, classical harpist, brass ensemble, unaccompanied folk singers and all. The music at Lessons and Carols doesn’t change much. Sometimes the strolling guitar team does Joy to the World instead of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. The violin quartet moves between Handel and Mendelssohn.  There aren’t many surprises.

So few that, in the four years Jack and I have been singing at this event, I’ve developed trigger points. When our neighbor David–his wife Heather works at our store and he heads the college music department–leads his choir into Little Drummer Boy, no matter how I steel myself, I go to mush. The thrumming, sobbing, opening bass notes, followed by all those black-clad quiet voices in blended harmony, “Come, they told me….”

A little boy soprano always sings the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City, before the congregation joins in. One pure small voice soaring through that high-ceilinged church, then everyone rumbling forward more-or-less together with “Jesus is our childhood pattern….”

I’ve learned to wear something with pockets and pack them with tissues.

Jack wonders why I like this event so much.  Musically,  it’s all over the place. It’s predictable, and long–now grown to two and a half hours PLUS prelude music. The benches are uncomfortable. We even do that hackneyed candle thing with the lights out.

Ah, but “come, they told me…..”

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Filed under folklore and ethnography, small town USA, Uncategorized