No, this blog site is not about music. However, music has always been a large part of my life.
Last year, I shared a problem I had/have with some of the lyrics for the song O Holy Night. This year, my attention has fallen on Christmas songs which are not really Christmas songs. Two of these come readily to mind. Both are wonderful songs which I dearly love to listen to. One has been popularly associated with the holiday for decades now, the other only in recent years (to my knowledge); yet neither have anything actually to do with Christmas or its celebration.
First the oldie-but-goodie My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music. Yes, the lyrics mention snowflakes, winter, and packages tied up with string. No, none of these are mentioned as being connected with Christmas or any other winter holiday. Rather, the song is about self-diversion as a coping mechanism to combat fear and anxiety over unpleasant events. I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so sad.
That pretty much sums it up.
The one I’ve only recently seen associated with Christmas is Hallelujah. The first time I saw the connection made was a wonderful video of an instrumental performance by Lindsey Stirling, a young woman with talent beyond belief. In the video, she plays the song on her violin in a subway with an origami Nativity scene on the floor in front of her. I greatly enjoyed the performance, but the selection of props puzzled me. Then I encountered the song again connected with Christmas by its inclusion on Pentatonix’ newest Christmas album. Their performance sends chills down my spine, and truly captures the emotion behind the lyrics; but again, the song has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas.
Hallelujah, written by Leonard Cohen in the early 1980s, has been covered by over 200 different artists over the years in multiple languages. If you listen to the lyrics, you will realize the song starts out about the illicit affair between the ancient Israelite King David (already married at the time) with Bathsheba, wife of Uriah the Hittite, a soldier in David’s army. The song goes on to express the pain and heartbreak, the sheer emotional/spiritual damage, this affair led to.
The song is gloriously beautiful and masterfully written, and I love it dearly.
How in the HELL did it become associated with Christmas?
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not angry. If it hadn’t, I might not have come across the Pentatonix version for years (they omitted a verse, btw). I’m just puzzled about it.
Okay, that concludes my musical rant for this year. Thank you for tolerating/indulging me.