December 23, 2014

Christmas songs by Jews: annoying, schmaltzy, and mundane

In what is becoming an annual Christmas tradition, popular web media outlets are crowing about how many of America's "beloved" Christmas songs were in fact composed by Jews. See here for a recent example from HuffPo.

I don't know about you, but I can't stand those campy Midcentury novelty tunes. "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" must be one of the most annoying songs ever recorded.

None mention Jesus or Christianity, nor do they pay tribute to pre-Christian sacred traditions either, like the old carol "Deck the Halls," which is about the pagan holiday of Yule. Some do celebrate kiddie mythology — Santa, Rudolf, Frosty — but what is there for grown-ups? The rest are only wintertime songs — snowfall, fireplaces, huddling together inside to keep warm.

It is not enough to invoke the good cheer, sentimental feelings, and family togetherness without providing the context for it all. It's not just another family get-together, like the Fourth of July, another one of those times when people feel good, like Spring Break, or another time when they feel sentimental, like school graduations.

There are only two halfway moving new Christmas songs that came out back then — "The Little Drummer Boy" and "Do You Hear What I Hear?" And to be fair, a Jew did compose the music (though not the lyrics) to the latter. But being half of a songwriting team that made one good Christmas song is hardly proof of Jewish skill in the area.

All the great Christmas songs are either hymns or carols that go back to the 19th century or earlier, before Jews left the ghetto and began appearing in elite and pop cultural fields. And sure enough, the two good new songs could easily be sung in a caroling setting.

We learn something from the fact that a choral setting would allow so few of the Jewish songs from the Midcentury — or their Gentile counterparts, for that matter ("Jingle Bell Rock" — another cringer). They aren't the kind of music that bonds a group together through song. Trying to sing them in chorus would be as absurd as a group of folks coming together to sing advertising jingles.

They're the worst example of commercial tune-peddlers trying to cash in on a sacred group ritual, and you can't ignore their irritatingly pandering style. They sound just like what you'd expect a holiday song to sound like based on the producer-consumer relationship, rather than the relationship of in-group members bonding.*

The only group that does perform them in chorus is small children, again emphasizing how kiddie and campy their appeal is. It might be charming to hear third-graders singing about Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer, but it would be even more moving to hear them sing "Silent Night" instead.

We learn more still from the fact that these annoying Midcentury songs are still played endlessly in the months leading up to Christmas, year after year, despite the melting away of all sorts of genuine, sacred Christmas traditions, and the general profaning of the holiday. Carols and hymns have joined all the other myriad traditions that are hard to find anymore, whereas the mundane novelty songs are more ubiquitous now than they ever were. Somehow the "Boo, Christmas" phenomenon of the past couple decades doesn't seem to mind those as much as the carols and hymns.

* In a lapse of awareness, the author of the HuffPo article plainly states that Jewish songwriters didn't bother composing Hannukah songs because there was so little money to be made from catering to just 2% of consumers.

14 comments:

  1. I don't like the secular Christmas songs either. They are holiday favorites but they have always seemed a little blasphemous. The only half-way decent one is "White Christmas" by Irving Berlin.

    It's so true that the secular Christmas songs are schmaltzy. Your point that "[t]hey sound just like what you'd expect a holiday song to sound like based on the producer-consumer relationship, rather than the relationship of in-group members bonding" is pure gold.

    I work in the entertainment industry. The business side of it is basically all Jewish; I'm pretty much the only goy who works in my particular aspect of the business. For the past month or so, I have received hundreds of "Merry Christmas" greetings. These are from complete strangers, people who don't know that I am not Jewish.

    Most of the people who work in on the business end of the entertainment industry are Boomers in their mid-50's. (The worst Boomers, the early ones who burned their draft cards and participated in the Summer of Love, are finally retiring, thank God) 90% of them are secular liberals. This year, dozens of people have wished me "Merry Christmas." It has become the standard holiday greeting. This was a very surprising development, because a couple of years ago, "Happy Holidays" was the standard.

    You'll never hear them publicly admit this, but I think that the younger generation of secular Jews is privately embarrassed at the degeneracy of their elders and the prejudice that some of them exhibited toward the majority culture. That's why people have spontaneously decided to say "Merry Christmas," this year. Now, the entertainment industry is pretty degenerate, and there is still a long way to go. But it's progress, and it's wonderful to see.

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  2. On a related note, a couple of years ago we were visiting different schools in our area to see which one our boys would attend. (We live in Los Angeles, were public schools are not an option.)

    The schools have open houses for parents in the late fall. On one of these visits, they showed us the Kindergarten classroom. It was decorated in a pretty traditional style, with paper cut-outs adorning the walls. There were hundreds of Christmas-themed decorations. A couple of minutes after we went in, something began tingling in my brain. I looked around the classroom to see what was bothering me. At that point, I realized that all of the Christmas decorations were secular. They had snowflakes, Santa, candy canes, etc., but no religious symbols or Nativity scene.

    This realization horrified me. I can't explain why, but it struck me as very wrong. Then and there, I decided that our boys were not going to attend that school. Until then, I did not know how much I wanted our kids to receive religious instruction in school.

    (This decision was only strengthened when a few minutes later we were taken to the school library, where a copy of "Heather Has Two Mommies" was prominently displayed atop the bookshelf -- seriously. Obviously the librarian was trying to send a message, and I certainly received it loud and clear.) We sent them to a Catholic school instead.)

    I am not a person of deep faith. It's important to me, but I am not a very good Christian. I do have some faith, but it's pretty weak. Until we took that tour, I figured that a secular school would be OK, and that we'd send the boys to Sunday school on the weekends. But when I saw a completely secular Christmas display, that option went off the table.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't want the public schools to indoctrinate kids with the Christian faith. Secular Christmas decorations are appropriate, at a public school.
    Also, I certainly understand how someone who is not a Christian, or is not religious, can feel left out around the Christmas season. I wouldn't want to be the only Jewish kid on the block, so I think it's nice to say "Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah." It's a little awkward but it's a form of respect. If we ever get a big enough Muslim population I suppose we'll have to include them too. I don't see any particular need for us to import a big Muslim population, and would vote against such a measure if our political class would bother to ask me for my opinion, but I like being polite to people, it's just good manners. The "Happy Holidays" movement

    But when you completely secularize a holiday, it loses its meaning. I think that's why people are starting to say "Merry Christmas" again. Even secular people, and people of other faiths, know that Christmas becomes more special when there is a religious component, and that "Happy Holidays" is soul-less and empty. It's nice to see people say "Merry Christmas" again, it restores some of my faith in humanity, which was sorely tested by the Boomers.

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  3. One of my favorite carols, never heard it from the media.

    Good King Wenceslas
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQVUMG6LZGM

    Good King Wenceslas looked out
    On the feast of Stephen
    When the snow lay round about
    Deep and crisp and even
    Brightly shone the moon that night
    Though the frost was cruel
    When a poor man came in sight
    Gath'ring winter fuel

    "Hither, page, and stand by me
    If thou know'st it, telling
    Yonder peasant, who is he?
    Where and what his dwelling?"
    "Sire, he lives a good league hence
    Underneath the mountain
    Right against the forest fence
    By Saint Agnes' fountain."

    "Bring me flesh and bring me wine
    Bring me pine logs hither
    Thou and I will see him dine
    When we bear him thither."
    Page and monarch forth they went
    Forth they went together
    Through the rude wind's wild lament
    And the bitter weather

    "Sire, the night is darker now
    And the wind blows stronger
    Fails my heart, I know not how,
    I can go no longer."
    "Mark my footsteps, my good page
    Tread thou in them boldly
    Thou shalt find the winter's rage
    Freeze thy blood less coldly."

    In his master's steps he trod
    Where the snow lay dinted
    Heat was in the very sod
    Which the Saint had printed
    Therefore, Christian men, be sure
    Wealth or rank possessing
    Ye who now will bless the poor
    Shall yourselves find blessing

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  4. Don't forget that believers are actually capable of remixing the old classics capably:

    In honor of the 80s, Amy Grant's "O little town of Bethlehem."

    (Which was the center of a three-part medley here.)

    It's probably not the most virtuoso use of 80s synth and style in Christmas songs, but the enthusiasm for the tradition was undeniable.

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  5. You cant stop with the hate, even on Christmas. Lighten up dude. Go out and get layed. You really sound like youre backed up.

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  6. LOL at PUA wannabes being secretly gay for the Jews. Who else is going to feed your porn addiction?

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  7. In all fairness, the Jews should earn at least a point and a half for "White Christmas," both for its lower level of comparative schmaltz and its amazing utility as a troll-friendly song in this day and age.

    Even the quality Jewish Christmas songs tend to have a passive quality: they're much less declarative than Christian Christmas songs-if you don't believe, then you're never going to say something like: "Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice!" The most honest Jews can still only observe the spirit of the season secondhand, rather than absorb it as an animating force.

    The end result is that, just like white Westerners were the first to make Kung Fu Panda, a fun all-ages consolidation of popular Chinese kung fu tradition, only Westerners could write "O Come O Come Emmanuel", a song that specifically addresses the emotional need for a messiah to save Israel in its exile.

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  8. Totally agree with this. Traditional carols and religious Christmas music are much more moving and powerful than schmaltzy kiddie tunes or bland generic shopping mall fare. The fact that Jews crow about how they've replaced the former with the latter tells you all you need to know about Jews. I'll take singing along at church to "Angels We Have Heard On High" over listening to Barbara Streisand crooning about snowflakes and Santa Claus any year.

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  9. agnostic, someone at the forum brought up the New Wave song "Christmas Wrapping"...any thoughts on that one?

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  10. One of my first culture shocks upon arriving in the US as a teenager in the early 80s was hearing "Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer." One, the irreverent Christmas song. Two... a fun song about grandmother getting killed?

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  11. I don't mind songs like "Christmas Wrapping" that are not trying to be sentimental "new classics."

    And it's one of the few popular holiday songs that start in a downer mood and end up positive. Most of them ignore the "Bah, humbug" crowd, but this one assumes that tone at the start in order to contrast the last section with a tone of humility and conversion, albeit on a mundane level.

    Just scrolling through the comments on the music video on YouTube, and found an SJW type whining about someone expressing disbelief that a black chick was the bass player...

    When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
    But Stephen J. Krune from My Posting Career,
    With little old keyboard, so lively and quick,
    I knew in a moment he'd troll that gay hick.

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  12. Transylvanian new wave. It's like, how much more MPC could this be? And the answer is none, none more MPC.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keWpayqqG40

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  13. You hear third graders sing "Rudolf" instead of "Silent Night" because the ACLU would smack down any school which only sang religious songs, and when you're dealing with little kids, you only get one or two songs done at all well. (Though "White Christmas" would work.)

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  14. You and your Christian followers can go fuck your Jewish "god".

    Basic redpill nutcase. What happened to you people to make you so hateful?

    The kikes are all fags! (You have autism)

    ReplyDelete

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