I’ve a few more songs to add to my top 10 alternative Christmas songs, but before I do I should let you all know about the Sufjan Stevens Christmas Project. Sufjan had released a Christmas album, (actually it was 5 albums in 1) back in 2006 and this week he’s released another Christmas anthology, “Silver & Gold” with 58 tracks. “Silver & Gold” hosts some quirky, beautiful and just plain odd stuff there, but with 58 tracks that wouldn’t be a surprise, it’s well worth the purchase and exploration…
You can source it on iTunes, but his Bandcamp site is cheaper ($15)
I could probably pick 10 songs from both collections to add to the list, but I won’t pick and choose, I’ll leave that one to you.
So… to continue my list.
Title: Maybe This Christmas
Artist: Ron Sexsmith (also covered by Tim Freedman, Katie Noonan, Leigh Nash…)
Probably a little cliche but this is a beautiful song of hope, maybe this Christmas love will appear…
Title: Little Town
Artist: Over The Rhine
I tried to find a decent version of this track online, the best I could do is from the Over The Rhine website
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy dark and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight
The lamplit streets of Bethlehem
We walk now through the night
There is no peace in Bethlehem
There is no peace in sight
The wounds of generations
Almost too deep to heal
Scar the timeworn miracle
And make it seem surreal
The baby in the manger
Grew to a man one day
And still we try to listen now
To what he had to say
Put up your swords forever
Forgive your enemies
Love your neighbor as yourself
Let your little children come to me
As beautiful as this version of the old hymn is I must say that the lyrics as written by Martin John Nicholls for the tune speak more to me as I sit here with reports of violence in the Gaza Strip and surrounds flooding through the international news. Perhaps this reflection “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” might be of interest as you listen to this song.
The other lyrics can be found on the Alternativity site as a pdf file:
Oh broken town of Bethlehem
Oh broken town of Bethlehem
Your people long for peace,
But curfews, raids and closure barricades
Have brought them to their knees
Yet still they strive for justice
And still they make their stand
Their hopes and fears still echo down the years
Come, heal this holy land.
Oh holy child of Bethlehem,
A royal refugee,
Your place of birth is now a hell on earth
Through our complicity.
The innocents still suffer,
Their backs against the wall.
We see the curse, the violence and worse
And choose to ignore it all.
Oh holy streets of Bethlehem
Deserted and destroyed
The frightened faces fill the sacred places
Pilgrims once enjoyed.
Yet in the midst of darkness
A hopeful beacon shines:
The future lies in humble sacrifice
And not in guns and mines.
Oh holy star of Bethlehem
Help us to watch and pray.
With love and light illuminate the night
Reveal the Kingdom’s day.
Lord, dare us to be angels
Your awesome truth to tell.
It must be heard:
You are the final word,
Our Lord, Emmanuel.
© 2003 Martin John Nicholls
Dedicated to Nader Abu Amsha and the staff of East Jerusalem
YMCA, Beit Sahour (Shepherd’s Field) near Bethlehem.
Title: Getting Ready For Christmas Day
Artist: Paul Simon
Paul Simon delivered this Christmas gift a couple of years back, it’s a bit of fun…
Perhaps… Sometimes that might just be enough
Title: It’s Christmas
Artist: The Polyphonic Spree
Ok, perhaps one more fun song while we’re at it…
I just love being able to bring out the Spree at Christmas time…
and it’s a great clip…
Title: How To Make Gravy
Artist: Paul Kelly
One of Australia’s quintessential Christmas songs, Paul writes in his “mongrel memoir” “How to Make Gravy” that the song was originally penned for a compilation Christmas album after having been told that his first choice for song (Christmas must be Tonight by The Band) had already been picked for the album by someone else. He writes:
I rang Lindsay. “I have a Christmas song,” I said, “but it doesnt have a chorus and it’s set in prison.”
“I better come over and have a listen” (said Lindsay)
The next day he sat in my small back shed while I played it to him, my head down, partly from nerves but also to read the fresh-scratched lyrics in my notebook on the floor. When I looked up at the end he was holding his hanky.
“It’s supposed to be a comedy,” i said.
“I know,” he replied, wiping his eyes…
He writes a lot more about the process of writing this song in the book, I encourage you to give it a read… the entire book is beautiful.
Title: Jesus Christ
Artist: Big Star
And one more makes 11 songs.
But I realised that I’ve not included this song by Big Star yet, and it probably should be in anyone’s Christmas song playlist, so give it a chance…
Here’s one last Christmas music video from Hilary Grist just for fun…
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