A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Sunday, January 09, 2005 :::
A Mind That Suits promised happy thoughts, and indeed there are some to come, including meditations on how our society treats the handicapped, what a beautiful city Washington is, if you ignore the residents, and the joys of being in a large Latin percussion concert with lovely ladies your own age and a bunch of teenage boys who serve, as one of the lovely ladies pointed out, to make us older folk sound good.

But work calls--the semester starts tomorrow, and a certain pudgy balding English teacher is woefully unprepared--so we will leave you with this thought about music.

For Catholics, the Christmas season extends, essentially, from December 17 to today, the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. December 17 begins the final countdown to Christmas--if we can use "countdown" in this context--and The Baptism of Our Lord ends the commemoration of the day when "The Word Become Flesh" was made manifest. For the commercial interests, the Christmas season begins shortly before Labor Day, and ends on December 26, which begins the "let's get rid of all this junk" season. The commercialization of Christmas is something that just gets worse, but it has been noted for a very long time. Tom Lehrer, the last truly funny leftist, had a Christmas song in the Sixties which contained the memorable line, "Angels we have heard on high, telling us to go out and BUY."

So how can this breed a happy thought? Well, with the development of the whole feelgood market in music--epitomized, need we spell it out, by Celine Dion--there has come a whole raft of feelgood Christmas songs which can only be described as complete garbage. About the only two songs that this writer enjoys hearing are a perky little version of "All I Want for Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey, and " Happy Xmas (War is Over)," by the Plastic Ono Band (i.e., John and Yoko), which song sounds suspiciously like the old folk song "Stewball Was A Pony," but is beautiful nonetheless. Aside from that, all garbage.

Which means that all the really gorgeous traditional Christmas music is, at long last, confined to wear it belongs, on home stereos and at Church. If you want to know the power of the familiar and the beautiful, park yourself somewhere in Washington's St. Matthew Cathedral next year and hear the faithful launch into "Adeste Fideles" shortly after midnight. It helps if the crowd has been prepared--as they are at St. Matthew-- by a wonderful Scola Cantorum's singing of a classic 16th Century piece called the "Mystery of the World." Trust me--really boffo stuff.

And you won't hear it at the Mall.

And that, as a certain inmate in a minimum security prison likes to say, is a good thing.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 1:39 PM



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