Friday, November 28, 2008

The Bountiful Feast: A Christmas Feast

If it hadn’t happened to you before now, and if you went anywhere at all today, you experienced your first assault for this year of Christmas music. Now, some of the best music of any kind ever written was written for or about Christmas, but, for the most part, that’s not what you heard. You heard grotesquely overproduced versions of familiar carols. You heard original songs that were corny/ maudlin beyond belief. And you heard arrangements of familiar holiday fare that were beyond ill-advised. And, if you were lucky, amidst the dross, you heard a tune or two you actually liked.

Certainly, this is what happens to me every year. And I cope with it by resorting to counterprogramming. I collect holiday-themed songs that are the furthest thing from any of the abuses described above, and often have a cynical edge. And it happens that three of my favorites have a food theme.

Riders in the Sky: Sidemeat‘s Christmas Stew


Riders in the Sky have made a career out of keeping cowboy music alive. And they have done it with a wonderful sense of humor. Here, they tackle the question, how does a trail cook produce a Christmas feast with the limited resources available to him on a cattle drive?

Mick Moloney and Eugene O‘Donnell: Miss Fogarty‘s Christmas Cake


Mick Moloney and Eugene O’Donell are Irish musicians whose musical careers have developed entirely in the United States. O’Donell is a wonderful fiddler, while Moloney sings and plays guitar and bouzouki. I had the great pleasure of seeing them perform a few years ago, and I recommend it highly.

A short time ago, we were cleaning out a part of our house that had not been used in many years. To our great surprise, we discovered a fruitcake that must have tucked in the back of a drawer around 1965, still in what was left of its tin. The tale told in “Miss Fogarty’s Christmas Cake” is not nearly that drastic, but it captures the fruitcake phenomenon perfectly. If anyone knows of other fruitcake songs, I’d love to hear about them in the comments

The Chieftains with Elvis Costello: St Stephen‘s Day Murders


By now, the Chieftains are well known for their collaborations with seemingly most unlikely musical partners. The Bells of Dublin was the first album where the Chieftains did this. Of all the artists who participated, only Elvis Costello and Jackson Browne contributed original songs.

If you enjoy the arrival of swarms of relatives for the holidays, but wonder what you were thinking when they are all still there three days later, you may enjoy Elvis Costello’s unique, (I hope!), solution to the problem.

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