Have a Merry, Merry, Heavy Metal Christmas

winter light display in Portland, Maine by Everett Autumn Today is Christmas Eve and the Christmas season is almost upon us, for tomorrow begins the twelve days of Christmas. Here in the west we celebrate the holiday on day one (or sometimes Christmas Eve), but go to Eastern Europe and Russia and you will find that Christmas comes at the end of the first week of January, which would right around the twelfth day of Christmas. The more than merrier.

Well anyone, our town, Portland Maine likes to put lights everywhere. Here are some that are descending from the top of the sixth story of the Maine College of Art. They are strung from long lines the traverse the distance.

Speaking of unusual ways of celebrating Christmas, this is the year that I discovered heavy metal Christmas albums. By chance I was in the record store the other day, making my selection, when the clerk drew my attention to the Judas Priest album that was playing. Actually, it was a series of Christmas and seasonal songs recorded by Robert Halford, called “Winter Songs”. The album sounded nice on the store sound system, but I went ahead and purchased Bob Dylan’s Christmas effort anyway.

Since that day I have done a little researching and come across some surprising results; and that my friends, is there are all sorts of folks from Alice Cooper to Twisted Sister have put out at least a few X-mas songs and some have actually completed and released a whole album. Check out Twisted Christmas by Twisted Sister. For those of you who might be interested here is a link to the Houston Press and their choice for five best Heavy Metal Christmas Songs.

My favorite though has to be the Charlie Brown Heavy Metal Christmas with music by Tourniquet. Check it out. It is two and a half minutes of pure pleasure.

And on a final note for those of you who just received a box of candies in the mail from Aunt Ida and Uncle Rico, who you haven’t seen or talked to in ten years, here’s a quick and easy way to respond. Just send them a Jib Jab Christmas card by e-mail.

Merry Christmas from E. Autumn

Christmas Music 2009: Gordon Matthew Sumner vs. Robert Allen Zimmerman

Winter landscape
Winter landscape - credit; ImagesFromBulgaria.com

Have you wondered what kind of weirdo would go out and actually pay good money for Christmas music by over the hill “Rock and Roll Stars”. I never have, for all I had to do, was look in the mirror to get the answer to such a ridiculous question like that.

This year I have made two yuletide purchases of seasonal music and I thought I would share my results with you. The recording artists involved might surprise you, for they are our own homegrown, Bob Dylan, who hails from that marvelous winter wonderland Mecca, called Minnesota; and on the other hand is a man, who calls himself, Sting and is originally from Newcastle, an English city located just south of the Scottish Borderlands and the English-Scottish border. The two recordings are called, “Christmas from the Heart” (by Dylan) and “If On a Winter’s Night” (by Sting).

First, a few words about Mr. Dylan and his first Christmas offering, “Christmas from the Heart”, which can be purchased in two versions. One is the straight CD, and the second version includes four Christmas Cards, for which you have to pay an extra ten dollars. Here is the album cover for “from the Heart”, which kind of looks like an old Christmas card.

Heart_dylan_lp
album cover for Christmas For the Heart

My guess is that  if you purchase the CD that includes the X-mas cards, this is the image that you will receive. Enough for the visuals, but what about the music. When asked by Bill Flanagan of the Street News Service, why he recorded an album of traditional Christmas songs in such a straightforward manner, Bob replied, “There wasn’t any other way to play it. These songs are part of my life, just like folk songs. You have to play them straight, too.” And perhaps that is the best intro one can give for the somber collection of Christmas tunes that includes such classics as “Little Drummer Boy”, “Here Comes Santa Claus” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem”. For a surprisingly, honest rendition of some seasonal classic give this album a try. You’ll like it.

And now on to Sting, who has released his own eclectic recording of music that is more closely tied to theme of winter than that of Christmas. Still many of his songs embrace the Christian theme, as well as the seasonal handle. My favorite song of the album is titled, “Cherry Tree Carol”, a charming medieval tale of how Joseph is requested by the Virgin Mary to gather cherries for the oncoming winter.

Overall Stings musical effort warms your heart, as easily as a mid-January fire burning in a brick-hearth fireplace. Sting, who describes winter as his favorite of the four seasons, says this about the winter season. “Winter is the season of ghosts and ghosts, if they can be said to reside anywhere, reside here in the season of frosts and in these long hours of darkness.”

album cover from "If on a Winter's Night".

So, hopefully your bills are all paid, your woodshed is full of firewood, so you can light up a flame in the fireplace and enjoy the warmth of crackling timbers during the cold of a winter’s night. That’s the atmosphere you will find, when you play this music.