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Doce me faces voluntarem tuam quia Deus meus es tu

Wednesday, December 08, 2004
I haven't written too much about music lately. Let me say that one of my favorite music sites is the music wing of Looking Closer, which is also home to great movie and book reviews. Of course I am a sucker for the pretentious folks at Pitchfork Media, as well, but both sites have their perks.

I had intended to offer a proper review of the new U2 record a few weeks ago, but it's terribly hard for me to listen to anything but Christmas music during the month of December. I was practically raised on Christmas music as a child, and I credit my parents for this exposure, which introduced me to a wide range of music, notably jazz and classical. The Christmas albums we wore out the most as kids were definitely An Old-Fashioned Christmas and Christmas Portrait by the Carpenters. The two records have been combined into one double-disc package that is quite superb. My parents were also bigs fan of the Canadian Brass, whose Christmas albums were very good. My dad first exposed me to the Chieftains. I remain a huge fan of the Bells of Dublin, a fine Christmas album that celebrates both the revelry and the reverance of the Advent season, and includes collaborative work with a wide range of artists. Of course there were the other usual suspects; Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Ella Fitzgerald, the Rat Pack, Rosemarry Clooney, and Nat King Cole - just to name a few.

I still listen to the music of my childhood, but I have added to the collection. My personal favorites in recent years have been Vince Garauldi's maginifcent soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas, Low's sparse and haunting Christmas e.p., Bright Eyes' A Christmas Album and the just purchased Best Loved Christmas Carols by the Choir of King's College Cambridge, which is a fantastic collection of carols. And for those of you who are into illegally downloading music (not that I condone such a thing), I should recommend Diana Krall's three song Christmas e.p., as it is only available as a very pricy import. Belle and Sebastian's 2002 Christmas sessions recorded at the BBC with the late John Peel are not limited to Christmas songs, but they are very good, and worth seeking out in cyberspace.

One of my favorite aspects of Christmas is both the quiet, awe-struck reverence that we find when we face the arrival of the Christ-child. I also enjoy the revelry we share at the season when we gather with friends and family. I like to hear music that reflects both sentiments, each unique and special in their own way.

My only other Christmas tradition outside of the usual Christmas movies is to re-read David Sedaris' Holidays on Ice. Not for the easily-offended or humorless, but nonetheless drop-dead funny.

I say all that to say I shall explore my favorite records of the last year sometime in the coming weeks, most likely after Christmas. 2004 was full of fantastic music, and while I did not hear every record that was lauded by the critics, I heard plenty. I aim to explore those albums in this space sometime very soon.
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