Is it just through getting old that I am starting to be increasingly moved by a certain kind of Christmas music?
I don’t mean all the dreadful rechurned musak that pours upon us like secreted sticky puss from the speakers in every God forsaken mall at this time of year. That makes me feel ill. It distances me from everything that seems real and beautiful about the Christmas itself. It sets me against it all and I have to fight to find my way back in towards the light.
Other music has exactly the opposite effect.
Nostalgia has some part to play, I must admit. The sound of a Salvation Army band echoing along the street unfailingly reduces me to tears. Then there is the back-of-the-neck tingle of a choir singing Once In Royal David’s City in some fecund incensed cathedral vault.
But beyond this, we seem to be collecting a series of Christmas albums from the most unlikely of artists. Perhaps they sell well and so there is a commercial pressure to produce them; people have to make a living after all. All I know is that they have the effect of taking me deeper into something truthful at a time when meaning is obscured by so much tat and tinsel.
Never more do we need the artist, the poet, the troubadour. Not just for a spike of ephemera via twitter and a bit of Facebook sharing; more because without them, we lie barren, and Christmas is just economics.
So here is my little list. I know you will add lots more…
Bruce Cockburn, Christmas.
Tracey Thorn, Tinsel and Lights.
Sting, If On a Winters Night.
Kate Rusby, Sweet Bells.