Mood music

Hey. In case you didn’t notice, Christmas is coming. Like, right away. As in, the next 68 Comeback Special show you hear will be on Thursday, December 24, 2009, aka Christmas Eve. CJSR will kinda sorta be in holiday fill-in mode by then, but we’re going to be there, Tom and I, playing music for the occasion, so to speak. Here’s why you should tune in.

The problem with trying to set the Christmas mood with Christmas music is that 77% of the time, it’s a really bad idea, but 98% of people don’t know that. For one, a Christmas mood is not one that is set so easily. We get things mixed up, thinking that the music is lending its power to our seasonal mood, when in fact it is our seasonal mood that lends power to the music we listen to at the time. Music alone can only go so far toward making a particular moment Christmasy, and in fact, poorly-chosen music will ruin the mood you’re trying to create. Everyone’s got their weird shit about Christmas music on the whole, or very specific songs, and it’s just as likely as not that to try and force a ‘mood’ issue with high concentrations of Christmas-themed songs is to stoke the anger. It’s a minefield, baby, why do you want to walk around in minefields at Christmastime?

For example, recently, in another conversation the question was asked, Which Christmas song do you hate the most? One person’s answer was Silver Bells. I have a highly favourable impression of Silver Bells, from the shortshort looong phrasing of the lines in the verses, to the swells that carry us into the chorus, but it really has to do with a memory of being 11 years old in a school gymnasium with a coupla hundred other kids, singing our hearts out because that’s what kids do, and it sure as hell beat math or French class, or whatever other reason there might have been to have to find ourselves in the presence of either Mr. Fraser or Mr. Learn (really!), each of whom showed a particular genius for finding new ways daily to make little kids think they were utter, consummate dinks. But I digress. That gym was also where I caught the Good King Wenceslas bug, but it’s not everyone’s experience. Some people (criminals and madmen, but people all the same) don’t like Silver Bells.

Someone else named Paul McCartney’s “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime.” Having recently experienced it over a store’s PA system, I can safely say that this song is a perfect example of how horribly wrong you can go by trying to use “Christmas” songs to set a mood. Simply by virtue of the fact that the song has “Christmas” in it means somebody’s going to try and play this abomination while other people are around, and it’s going to cause permanent damage.

Oh and by the way, there you have it. We have sown the seed in your brain, and because you can only remember the (record-settingly irritating) chorus to that song, in about two or three hours, you are really not going to be very happy at all with the 68 Comeback Special. In just a couple of days, with that chorus having rattled around inside your head for that long, you will be ready to commit The Murder, and so much for your Christmas mood then, eh?

Cue then, this Thursday’s 68 Comeback Special show, during which we will save the day, yet again, by offering for your seasonal enjoyment a selection of music that, while it may not meet a strict definition of Christmasy, might still be employed as Christmas mood enhancing music. You bake your gingerbread, we’ll play the antidote to the McCartney. There will be Guaraldi for your present-wrapping enjoyment, and probably some slyly placed Veda Hille and there’s that Okkervil River song and exactly how can you not play a track from a Wiseman on such an occasion? Oh, the fun we’ll have, and if Christmas isn’t your bag, well that’s cool too, but then you better not complain when we play gamelan.

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