Culture

CHRISTMAS MUSIC AND ITS DIVISIVENESS

Two writers state the case for and against festive songs

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EMMA FIRTH

ASSOCIATE EDITOr


Associate EDITOR

EMMA FIRTH, FOR

Working from home doesn’t suit everyone. One of my best friends could not wait to get back to the office at the first opportunity. You’d think she was being held hostage and that the office was some kind of spa retreat that had been, woefully, cut short.

To be perfectly honest, I was a little perplexed by this. I wouldn’t say I’m antisocial per se, I enjoy being around people. I can talk – a lot. But, generally speaking, I do work better when I’m at home. Writers – even if they exude an air of butterfly sociability – are, I think, inherently solitary figures. And yet, if there’s one thing I do miss – other than seeing my wonderful colleagues’ faces (and making them decode text messages I’ve received the night before) – it’s office working in December.

Hear me out before you rush to label me as some sort of workaholic scrooge – far from it. It’s the ambience of the Christmas music that plays constantly in the background. I find it soothing, motivating, a reminder that there’s life on the other side of the slog – and romance. Ah! Unashamedly feel-good romance. Because all of the best Christmas songs are about love. My personal favourites, which I recommend to those who remain firm in their belief that this genre is completely naff? ‘Blue Christmas’ by Elvis Presley; ‘You Don’t Know Me’ by Ray Charles; and Bob Dylan’s version of ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’. The latter featuring lyrics that feels all the more potent in light of this year:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Let your heart be light

Next year, all our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Make the yuletide gay

Next year, all our troubles will be miles away

Once again as in olden days

Happy golden days of yore

Faithful friends who are dear to us

Will be near to us once more

Someday soon, we all will be together

If the fates allow

Until then, we'll have to muddle though somehow

So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Make the yuletide gay

Next year, all our troubles will be miles away

Once again as in olden days

Happy golden days of yore

Faithful friends who are dear to us

Will be near to us once more

Someday soon, we all will be together

If the fates allow

So hang a shinin' star upon the highest bough

And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

Have yourself a merry little Christmas now

HEATHER GWYTHER

CONTRIBUTOR


CONTRIBUTOR

HEATHER GWYTHER, AGAINST

Usually, I am happy – maybe even grateful – to bend my mood to whatever music plays wherever I am. My solitary Uber journey home on New Year’s Day in 2017 was – to my morbid satisfaction – made even more miserable when ‘Angels’ came on the radio. I enjoy being in a state of confused bliss upon hearing anything by Cocteau Twins. ‘Dancing on My Own’ makes me jump up and down in euphoria. My eyes water a bit when I hear any version of ‘‘Running Up That Hill’. ‘Smile’ (by Lily Allen) makes me feel triumphant. But Christmas music? My shoulders tense. My eyes widen. My jaw is subject to the bruxism typically reserved for night. Christmas music I do not like at all.

Maybe I wouldn’t dislike Christmas music so much if it wasn’t foisted upon me – I actually quite like Christmas. The food! The presents! The vague sense of compassion for others! These are all alright by me. I don’t like Christmas music, however, because I know it’s supposed to make me feel festive. Being the contrarian that I am, forced festivities are not something I abide by. I can feel as festive as a John Lewis Christmas advert (and I don't like those either) of my own accord, but being placed in an auditory scenario in which I’m meant to feel festive is enough to bring out my inner Grinch.

That said, I do enjoy ‘winter music’ – if that’s even a genre. Or maybe just one winter song: ‘Winterbreak’ by MUNA. I’ll always choose it over that one by Mariah Carey.

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