Kenneth Darter

Writing, Music, and Life

Christmas Guilty Pleasures

For many years (more than I care to think of), I’ve enjoyed Michael W. Smith’s Christmas album during the holiday season.  I’m  surprised my CD hasn’t just completely worn out.  I generally enjoy this CD in the privacy of my car when I’m driving alone or on my ear buds when I get a chance.  I like to listen to it in my car though because in many ways the music is just bigger than ear buds.

Before I got married, I listened to it all the time during the holidays, preferably as loud as possible so that I could sign along.  I did the same after I got married, and after a few years my wife was quite sick of hearing it (and sick of hearing me attempt to sing it).  It’s not that she didn’t appreciate the music, she just didn’t enjoy hearing it over and over and over like I do (few people would).  So Micheal W. Smith’s masterpiece became my guilty little Christmas pleasure.

This year, I purchased a new Christmas album – Bob Dylan’s Christmas in the Heart.  Now, I never expected my wife to enjoy this CD; Dylan’s voice is an acquired taste after all.  A casual listener of the songs on this album might think that the troubadour is being ironic.  I believe quite the opposite though – he is paying homage to the holiday and the music in the best way that he knows and to my ears it comes off as a sincere tribute to the true meaning of Christmas and the traditions around it (to some people though, it comes across as the Grinch singing Christmas songs).

So one day last week when my 3-year old daughter was too sick to go to school, I told her we were going to listen to Christmas music; she was very excited about this, she loves music.  I thought surely a 3 year old would appreciate Dylan’s work (after all she enjoys hearing me try to sing at bedtime, how could she not like the bard?)  But no, one song in, she declared she didn’t want to listen anymore.  I guess everyone has to come to Dylan’s music in their own time.  Dylan’s Christmas album will be added to my Christmas Guilty Pleasure playlist while my daughter enjoys Burl Ives singing Rudolph over and over and over.

The first song on Dylan’s album is “Here Comes Santa Claus”.  As I listened to it (on a day when no one else was in the house), I heard two verses that I don’t remember hearing before (and you probably won’t hear them on the latest pop/rock/r&b/rap offering of butchered Christmas songs that show up in the book store every year):

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus
Right down Santa Claus lane
He doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor
He loves you just the same
Santa Claus knows we’re all God’s children
That makes everything right
So fill your hearts with Christmas cheer
Cause  Santa Claus comes tonight

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus
Right down Santa Claus lane
He’ll come around when the chimes ring out
That it’s Christmas morn again
Peace on earth will come to all
If we just follow the light
So let’s give thanks to the Lord above
That  Santa Claus comes tonight

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