Tag Archives: singing

Imagination Week: Wishes and Dreams

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I fell asleep earlier than intended last night. Hard. I didn’t even brush my teeth, except at 2:30 a.m. when I woke up and stumbled to the sink in a sudden panic at the thought of cavities.

A regularly scheduled Worry Wednesday post will come later today, but in the meantime, I wanted to share this song my 6-year-old was singing to herself a few weeks ago.

I reminded her about it this morning by singing it back to her as I woke her up, and she said, “Dad, dreams don’t always come true.” She thought I’d made it up and had no recollection of the song itself.

I’m glad I’m writing these things down.

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Carol Week: Worry Wednesday

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“Oh my / friends I’ve / begun to worry right.”

What you might know about me: I’m a bizarre sort of perfectionist and I frequently feel guilty, whether I have a reason to or not. Despite my knowing that I’m not Atlas, that the world doesn’t rest on my shoulders, I walk around hunched like it does. Like if I don’t hold it all together, everything will start to fall—at least my corner of it will—and it will be nobody’s fault but my own.

Every year, I make myself wait until after Thanksgiving dinner to listen to Christmas music. Then I stop as of Dec. 26. I’m a big fan of Pandora, and my favorite two holiday stations are based off of Sufjan Stevens and Bing Crosby, respectively. While Sufjan’s “Sister Winter” is probably my choice song for the season—aside from the traditional “O Holy Night,” which I’ll take in any form—perhaps the song I most look forward to is an outtake of Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters singing “Jingle Bells.”

I first came across the song in my Pandora shuffle a couple years back, and I’ve since sought it out. My Secret Santa at the office got me an MP3 download of it last year. The song moves along like a normal take on the tune, but there’s a hiccup here and there in the timing. You can tell Bing Crosby is sort of giving up after a while, because he throws in a joking “Yeah!” at one point after a flubbed cue, and as the wheels fall all the way off the cart, he sings “Holy Jesus Christ!”—prompting an “Urk!” from one of the sisters.

Sufjan sings: “All my / friends I’ve / returned to Sister Winter. / All my / friends I / apologize, apologize.”

Bing Crosby is calling out to Jesus flippantly, but I like the element it adds to the effort, like a sheepish plea to the original manger-born inspiration behind the ancient carols that have since given way to more generic winter melodies and lyrics.

Some church music has an odd history. There are hymns that actually began as drinking songs, freshened up with new lyrics. “What Child is This?” is set to the tune of “Greensleeves,” which was a slang term for a prostitute—or at least a woman willing to lie down in the grass, getting stains on her clothes.

The history and evolution of sacred music, the way it intertwines with popular music, is messy and surprising.

It’s not perfect.

I like that.

I didn’t realize until recently that one of the signs of the season for me is hearing a song that wasn’t intended to be heard. An outtake. A mistake.

I look forward to hearing it in my random shuffle of holiday music, even though it’s technically flawed. It’s profane, in the literal sense of the word. And yet.

The awe and wonder of this time of incarnation isn’t dimmed. Atlas can indeed shrug*. The plan, after all, was not for a baby to be born in a stall intended for livestock.

Sufjan sings: “And my / friends I’ve / returned to wish you all the best! And my / friends I’ve / returned to wish you a happy Christmas!”

 

* I can’t stand Ayn Rand by the way. At all. It’s a “Wonderful Christmastime”-level can’t standing.

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Carol Week: The Final Countdown

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This is the first year my girls have been into Christmas music. Like really into it. My 4-year-old likes “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” but they’ve both particularly latched onto “The 12 Days of Christmas,” which my wife has declared to be “my song with the girls,” because she’s already tired of it.

I don’t mind singing it with them—even repeatedly on the same car trip—though “with them” is a bit of an overstatement. Caroling sessions usually go like this:

Me and the girls: On the first day—

Secondborn: No. Let me sing it myself.

Firstborn: We’ll sing it by ourselves.

Me: OK.

They tend to be able to get up to the five golden rings, with my 6-year-old carrying her younger sister along lyrically. Then they start to get hazy.

The girls: On the … ssss … sss …

Firstborn: Sev— no, sixth day of Christmas

Both: My true love gave to me! Six … … …

Secondborn: What is it?

The girls: …

Firstborn: Dad?

Me (singing): Geese a-laying!

Secondborn: Dad! We’re doing this ourselves!

This goes on, in terms of number and item/character. My first-grader can count into the hundreds with no help, but for some reason the rising tally of 12 gifts throws her off. Sometimes she works her way up with no problem, but usually she asks me to intervene, and then I’m asked to bow out again until the next lapse.

The girls: Twelve drummers drumming! Eleven … …

Me: Pipers—

The girls: Pipers piping! Nine—

Me: Ten—

Secondborn: Dad!

Firstborn: Ten lords a-leaping!

Firstborn: Nine … …

Me: Ladies—

Secondborn (simultaneously): Ten lords a-leaping!

Firstborn: (simultaneously): Nine ladies dancing!

The girls: Uh …

Firstborn: Dad?!

Me (miming milking): Eight—

Secondborn: What?

Me: Maids—

The girls: OK, OK! Eight maids a-milking!

Secondborn: Now just us again.

As frustrating as it is musically, it’s really very sweet. And it’s way less annoying than Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime.” I can’t stand that song.

What are your favorite/least favorite carols and songs?

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