December 20, 2011

The Gift of Music

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director

Music lover that I am, my ears perked up last week when I overheard this question on Family Feud: “Name a song that everyone knows.”

I began a Google search through the Wikipedia of my mind. First I remembered that “Yesterday” is the most successful song of all time, recorded by over 1,600 artists. Somehow I still couldn’t imagine that being the top answer. What other songs had we all heard a million times? Could it be “Louie Louie”...”New York, New York”…the theme from “The Addams Family”?

The top TV answer turned out to be “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Well, I dispute that. If Christina Aguilera and Michael Bolton can’t remember it, what hope is there for the rest of us? Myself, I get lost somewhere in the ramparts.

With a little help from a friend, I’ve come up with an even better answer: “Happy Birthday”. You only have to remember six words (as long as you know the name of the person you’re singing to).

Right now, however, and for an entire month each year, we’re gifted to countless songs everyone really does know, not just because we’ve heard them every December since we’ve been born, but because they have been the soundtrack for all our treasured Christmas memories. The twinkle of tinsel and the smell of cinnamon candles nicely herald the season, but for me nothing does it better than the sound of Andy Williams, Nat King Cole and Burl Ives.

What makes a song a classic, they say, is when it can stand the test of time. My favorite Christmas pop song certainly has. It’s "Little Saint Nick", recorded by the Beach Boys in 1963. My favorite religious carol is "Silent Night", which I think has been around even longer. What songs are your Christmas favorites? 

At a party I attended this weekend, the highlight for all was playing a holiday version of Name That Tune. This was followed by another game in which we had to decipher cryptic versions of Christmas song titles (like “Loyal Followers Advance” = “O Come All Ye Faithful”). The joyous enthusiasm with which everyone proudly shouted out their answers as favorite songs registered made for a roomful of merry gentlemen and ladies.

For our own Southern Writers Christmas party this month, I couldn’t resist coming up with a variation of one of my favorite holiday tunes, a tongue-in-cheek commemoration of our first year as a magazine. My publishing cohorts have been adamant about me recording it and putting it online, so for those who like a little parody with their poinsettia, kindly click here to listen.

As in years past, I’ll spend Christmas Eve wrapping presents on my pool table to the tune of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra’s annual holiday concert on TV. I’ll look up from my paperwork regularly to take in the pleasure of seeing 70 musicians celebrating the season in song, dressed in their black concert finery as befitting the importance of this night. 

And upon that highly-anticipated moment when trumpeter Scott Moore recreates the famous horse whinny at the end of “Sleigh Ride”, I will suddenly feel like I’m ready for Christmas.

May you and yours have your best Christmas ever. And God bless us, every one.

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