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Ever Really Listen to Christmas Song Lyrics?

Around-the-clock Christmas music for the past month has caused me to really listen to the words—and I'm shocked!

I love Christmas music and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

And I'm not a Christmas music snob—I listen to it all. I have some very musically inclined friends who are a little snobby about their music; if it isn't classical music or traditional folks songs from across the globe, it's junk as far as they're concerned.

Me? I like it all.

And I get to indulge in it all this time of year, thanks to radio stations that play Christmas music around the clock from before Thanksgiving to just after the big day.

I listen to a Baltimore station at home and a Washington station in the car, so I get a fair mix of styles and artists.

I love hearing the old Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme, Tony Bennett (and the new Tony Bennett) and Nat King Cole; the medium-old Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Reba McIntyre and Barry Manilow; and the newer Sarah McLaughlin and Barenaked Ladies, Lady Antebellum and Blake Shelton. And old-timers like Rod Stewart have brand-new seasonal albums out.

And because I've already told you I'm not a Christmas music snob, I like Pachebel Canon and Ave Maria (which get more play this time of year) as much as I like White Christmas and even the hippopotamus song—though I am tiring of the Grinch song.

But have you ever really listened to the lyrics of some of the time-honored songs sung around the fireplace each year?

Don't let the lilting, soothing melodies fool you—some of these songs are mean and demanding and others are a little on the risque side.

While they'll never challenge some modern rap for most hateful song ever, I thought you might get a kick out of me bringing some of these "innocent" songs to your attention.

Let's start with "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

Sounds innocent enough, right? It starts out with a group wishing others a merry Christmas, but then the demands start.

The group wants figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer, and they want it brought to them.

Then, after making their demand, they further state that they won't go until they get some, so bring it RIGHT NOW.

How rude.

Next up is "Baby It's Cold Outside," more of a Christmastime pop song first popularized by Johnny Mercer and Margaret Whiting and then Bing Crosby and Doris Day. There are also many more modern versions.

In this suggestive (for its time) song, a couple is enjoying a date by the fireplace while a snowstorm rages outside.

The man does everything in his power to convince the woman to spend the night, while she says her parents, siblings and even her maiden aunt will be waiting for her to come home and judging her if she does not.

"I ought to say no, no, no sir," the lady says.

"Mind if I move in closer," the man responds."

Later in the song, he asks, "How can you do this to me?"

She responds: "There's bound to be talk tomorrow."

In true fashion of probably the 1940s, the songs ends with the impression—but not the declaration—that she spends the night.

There are others, like "Let It Snow" and "Winter Wonderland" — you can look them up if you'd like (the links take you to the lyrics).

But let's end with "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

What is probably one of the most popular Christmas tunes among the elementary school-age set is in essence a song about bullying, with many of the defined characteristics of bullying mentioned.

Rudolph, because he is physically different than the rest of the reindeer, is laughed at and called names by his peers.

He is excluded and shunned; forbidden to play games with the other reindeer in the neighborhood.

Only when his special, different physical attribute saves their butts do they accept him into their inner circle.

Oh, and the really bad guy in this song?

Santa Claus himself.

As the responsible adult, he should have stepped in and put an end to the bullying but he looked the other way.

Guess who's on the naughty list now?

Merry Christmas, everyone!

David Zeeveld December 26, 2012 at 07:29 PM
toughen up, people! What are we raising children to be? (Everyone a winner --a prise for everyone? Jeez! Look up George Simmel's "Conflict Thoery"
Marge Neal (Editor) December 26, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Humor, David, humor!
Julia McCready December 26, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Merry Christmas, Marge! Love this piece. I always felt sorry for poor Mary, who had to "sleep in heavenly peas." I hated peas.
Marge Neal (Editor) December 26, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Julia, thanks for the visual and the laugh! I hate peas, but I'd like to give whirled peas a chance! Marge
Mark December 27, 2012 at 01:41 AM
more trivia about christmas music Five Surprising Facts About Christmas Songs! #1.) Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" Was Used as a Coded Message During the Vietnam War. It was played over American radio signals in April of 1975 to let U.S. troops know the city of Saigon had been lost. --And the song "Do You Hear What I Hear" was originally written as a call for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis. #2.) "Dominick the Donkey" Has Possible Ties to the Mafia. Rumor has it, the original studio recording was financed by the Gambino crime family. #3.) "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" Was Originally a Marketing Ploy. Saks Fifth Avenue commissioned it in 1952 for an ad campaign to sell greeting cards. And they must have sold a lot, because that December it hit #1 on the Billboard charts. #4.) "Jingle Bells" Was Supposed to Be a Thanksgiving Song. The first title was "One Horse Open Sleigh". Then after it became popular, they rewrote it so it made sense for Thanksgiving and Christmas. #5.) "Silver Bells" Was Originally Titled, "Tinkle Bells." They only changed it after one of the writers told his wife the title, and she let him know what the word "tinkle" meant...
Marge Neal (Editor) December 27, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Cool stuff, Mark. Thanks for sharing. — Marge

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