Sunday, December 2, 2012

A few of my favorite things

One of my friends on Facebook asked what our favorite Christmas songs or carols are. And I couldn’t just give a title. There are reasons these songs make my tops list,

Little Drummer Boy. In 7th grade, I switched from playing flute to oboe which was probably the best musical decision I ever made. I know I’m not the only one to believe that personalities and instruments have to match. If you like being in a group, you should play something like flute, clarinet, violin or viola. If you don’t mind standing out, or even positively want to stand out, then consider the double reeds – oboe, English horn, bassoon. So the oboe was a good fit for me.

Every year, the junior high advanced band would play Little Drummer Boy at the Christmas concert (this was when Moby Dick was a minnow so the concerts were still called that), and that arrangement had an oboe duet right at the beginning. Now I’d only been playing oboe for about six or seven weeks so I was still really learning what it meant to be a double reed player, and I wasn’t in the advanced band, I was in the beginner band. But the advanced band had just one oboist so I was tapped to play second oboe in that piece. I’m sure we sounded like dying ducks but I was so exhilarated by playing that piece and so convinced of my pure awesomeness on the oboe that I never looked back.

Breath of Heaven. I heard this piece about 20 years ago on Amy Grant’s second Christmas album and along with most CCM listeners, was captivated by the words and the melody. Amy has said before that she’s not the best singer and knows there are other artists out there who are far more talented than she, but to me her voice fits this piece perfectly. I love that she’s singing from the perspective of a young, scared, very pregnant Mary wondering why she was picked to be the mother of Christ and whether or not she can actually do it.

‘twas da Night: Take 6 did an amazing version of this old favorite which made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it and hasn’t stopped being entertaining since. Plus they’re just amazing vocalists.

Carol of the Bells. I flat out love this song whether it’s done as an instrumental or vocal version.

Chant Noel. OK, this isn’t one song, it’s an entire Christmas CD put out by the Benedictine Monks about 20 years ago as a follow up to their first CD. I don’t know Latin at all but I still love this CD and it’s on my Christmas playlist.

And here's something I posted on Facebook yesterday, which is well worth the four minutes it takes to watch:

What about you? What are your favorite Christmas songs?


lemming said...

Love "Breath of Heaven" - "Home For Christmas" is my favorite Christmas album.

Jeanne said...

Did you ever get your chance to play the oboe part in Peter and the Wolf, speaking of dying ducks?

I do like that Carol of the Bells.

My favorite, as I said on FB, is my kids singing the "date rape song" (Baby, It's Cold Outside). I also like the shower scene where they sing it in Elf.

kittiesx3 said...

You know that I can only think of that song as the Date Rape Song now, right? Pretty sure I told you that when you came through Boston.

Yes, I've played the duck part in Peter & the Wolf. In fact when it's clear people don't know what an oboe is, I always ask if they've heard of Peter and the Wolf. Usually they have and then I just say the oboe is the duck.

Another huge favorite oboe duet for me is the Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks from Mussorgky's Pictures at an Exhibition. That one is so fun to play.

Ron said...

I like pretty much all Christmas music. A few of my favorites among the traditional are "Coventry Carol," "O Holy Night," and "Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant." But it would be easier to list the ones I don't like.


The Mason Williams Christmas album (called A Gift of Song" is a favorite. It contains instrumentals of traditional and original holiday pieces in the inimitable Mason Williams style.

The Hey Nunnie Nunnie: Every Day is Christmas! album, by two women who perform a fabulous Renaissance Festival act. In addition to being extremely funny, they are wonderful singers. This album includes classics like "Carol of the Laughs" and "What Would Satan Want for Christmas?"


Magpie said...

That Leroy Anderson is indeed fun.