The Stroumboulopouli

The Stroumboulopouli

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

'Tis the season to be jolly...

Courtesy of

Recently, music legend Tony Bennett paid a visit to The Hour, in part, to promote his latest CD, A Swingin' Christmas...his second Christmas album in forty years. This got a few of us thinking about one of the most significant aspects of this festive Be it the timeless classics or more modern songs, take it or leave it, the closer December 25th comes, there is no escaping it...Christmas music is everywhere! It is a tradition passed from generation to generation and like other holiday rituals, it makes the season just that much more special. In the spirit of the season, we would like to share some of our holiday music hits and misses.

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I have always been a great fan of most Christmas music and I am not ashamed to admit that my collection is quite vast. Growing up I was a member of my school's choir and I believe that this is where my love of the genre started. We mostly sang the know, the religious ones that most secular institutions now steer away of. There was always holiday music at home, via the radio, the record player and in a few instances, some inebriated relative performing their unforgettable rendition of Deck the Halls.

I have a great appreciation of the traditional carols that tell the biblical story of Christmas. Ironically, I am neither a church goer, nor particularly religious, but consider O Holy Night to be my favourite of all the holiday songs. The rendition I like best is one arranged and produced by another former guest of The Hour, David Foster. Others have performed his version, but none compare to this one by Michael Crawford. I'm also a big fan of Twisted Sisters' A Twisted Christmas...a heavy metal spin on the holidays...good fun indeed.

As much as I love the seasonal music, there are indeed some songs that just make me want to blow out my own eardrums, those "leave it" songs referred to earlier. Yesterday, a Toronto radio station asked listeners to call in and share their least favourite holiday tunes. Apparently, I am not alone in appropriate as the message may be, Christmas Shoes is painfully sad. I cry everytime I hear it. Then of course there is my holiday nemesis song, Frosty the Snowman. I have disliked this song since childhood...what Christmas song has the main character die? Melt? Whatever. Sure, he'll be back again some day, but he won't be the same. He knew the sun was hot that day...what was he thinking? It is a Christmas tragedy.

~ Merry Christmas to all from Steph A. :)


Unlike Steph, my Christmas music collection is pretty weak. I have a vast CD collection, yet the Holiday genre is sparce. I am not the biggest fan of Christmas tunes. Indulge me my diagnosis of why I'm fighting my way back to loving them again. I have come up with a couple reasons why I am a bit Bah Humbuggish...

1) Many years being forced to practice Carols on the organ. From ages 10-15, once a week lessons at good old Yamaha music school. After many years of practice, sucking up my dad's hard earned money, I doubt I could do more than fumble through Jingle Bells. Sad. I also hated that when I took group lessons, this one little suckup told me he practiced for 3 hours a day - thanks for telling the teacher that too. Feliz Navidad you weenie.

2) Seven seasons working in retail ... grade 11 through University is enough to kill it for even the most heartily Christmas spirited folks. The darkest moment was hearing Barbra Striesand's version of Jingle Bells. Everything about it... her inflection, tone and the galloping pace of the beat is just wrong. Try working with one 'authorized' tape, played on a loop for 8 hour shift for 6 weeks solid... you'd be fortunate to not be institutionalized. In the interest of good mental health, I will NOT provide a link however, I am sure it's out there for you if you're a masochist.

That aside... I also have some very fond memories of Christmas tunes. Putting up the tree with traditional carols on the stereo with family. Like Steph, I also sang in choirs all through school and in my high school years, there was the Annual tradition of playing Sleigh Ride in Orchestra. I played Cello - the best instrument of course -and clearly remember the raves from the parents about how good we were and my baby brother rolling his eyes. My acting debut in school also was filled with music of THE Holy Night persuasion. My role? The Virgin Mary. To those who know me and can't stop laughing... not a word. ;)

So, what Christmas tunes do I love?

The Little Drummer Boy - Performed by Bing Crosby and David Bowie. Just the juxtoposition of these two Icons and how their voices seamlessly blend... a perennial fave. Last Christmas, I was fortunate to attend Sean Cullen's Christmas 'Sean Schau' and enjoyed a live version of this tune performed by Sean Cullen and Chris Murphy from Sloan. It was awesome. Two red mittened thumbs up on that action!

Santa Baby - Performed by Eartha Kitt. Need I say more? Eartha brings a sexy vibe to this that no one can match. Madonna is just a poser on her version.

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - By Miss Brenda Lee. A TOTAL guilty pleasure. Bouncy and fun... the featured tune in pretty much all Company Christmas parties over the years.

Merry Christmas Baby - By Otis Redding. Otis is was and will always be The Man.

From the Modern Era, I remember the first time I heard 'Do They Know it's Christmas' which featured almost all my 80's musical heros. It still sends a tingle down my spine so many years later. It was a palatable way to bring awareness of the devastation in Africa and brought much needed attention. Did it solve famine and other social ills? No. But it was the first time I remember thinking it was cool to care and try and do our part to help others.

I really enjoyed The Hour's Christmas Music Special last year and the highlight was definitely Fairytale of New York... performed by The Mahones and Damhnait Doyle. I've loved this song for years and admit I was a bit reluctant because of course the original artists - The Pogues and the late Kirsty MacColl weren't on the stage. Not a traditional tune of course, but amazing.

So, I'll close my part with a lyric...

"So Happy Christmas I love you baby, I can see a better time, when all our Dreams come true. "

Hopefully this rings true for one and all this Holiday Season - I wish all our readers a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2009.

Now, I must retire to make the Perogies... I've been 'proroging' it for too long. Sorry... don't get political, don't get political....

Cheers to all.... Tracy


Anonymous said...

To: The Stroumboulopouli !!!Merry Christmas!!!!

Barbara said...

Merry Christmas Baby!

Tracy said...

Thank you Anon... right back at you!

How bummed was I to see that one of my top picks... Eartha Kitt, passed away on Christmas Day! RIP Eartha...

Anonymous said...

"Santa Baby" by Eartha, absolutey the best Xmas song.