There are some trends that one can fight against, and others that one must simply embrace. It is the job of a statesman to determine which is which. And that brings us to the proliferation of Christmas music.
Just a decade or so ago, radio stations had what was dubbed a “sleigh list” filled with holiday tunes. But most waited until a day or so before Christmas to roll it out. December 20, maybe, at the earliest. No longer.
Round-the-clock holiday music starts before Thanksgiving now. SiriusXM satellite radio launched its Christmas-themed channels on the day after Veteran’s Day, so you could feel patriotic and festive at the same time.
At least one station in each broadcast market gives itself over completely to Christmas music. That effectively means it becomes an oldies station. Real oldies. Most holiday standards are decades and decades old. It wouldn’t be Christmas without Perry Como (died 2001), Bing Crosby (died 1977), Dean Martin (died 1995) and the singing cowboy Gene Autry (died 1998).
Modern classics, on the other hand, are thin on the ground, notes Chris Klimek in Slate. “Despite the gigabytes of Christmas music released each year they are, overwhelmingly, reiterating yuletide warhorses.”
Still, the wise statesman attempts to guide the forces he cannot control. So let’s embrace the deluge of Christmas music. Or at least sift through it for valuable lessons.
Begin with a song recorded by everyone, but apparently parsed by no one: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Dean Martin may have the best version of this tune, a swinging, tongue-in-cheek rendition by a guy who, quite possibly, was sporting a red nose himself when he recorded it.
But listen to the words, and absorb the message. Rudolph is different because his nose shines. So “all of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names.” He’s shunned for a minor physical difference. “They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.” In the stop-action TV special, even the sainted Santa Claus makes fun of Rudolph, until it turns out his nose is helpful.