Posts Tagged ‘Little Drummer Boy’

Dave Barry, honorary Christmas Spirit Failer

November 23, 2009

We recently dug up this nugget of a column from Dave Barry, back in 2002:

Let’s all get into the Holiday Spirit, as expressed by the festive song heard so very often on the radio at this time of year:

“Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock!

“Jingle bell …”

BANG

That was the festive sound of the radio being struck with a hammer by reader Sarah Frates, who writes to say she is sick of “Jingle Bell Rock.” She also states that her husband, Ralph, isn’t a big fan of “The Little Drummer Boy.”

I am with Ralph on that. Oh, sure, “The Little Drummer Boy” is a beautiful song, for maybe the first 35 minutes. But eventually it gets on your nerves, those voices shrieking, “Rum-pa-pa-pum!”

For openers, drums don’t go “Rum-pa-pa-pum.” Drums go “Rat-a-tat- tat.” Also I have issues with the line from “The Little Drummer Boy” that goes, “The ox and lamb kept time.”

Really? How? Did they clack their hooves together, castanet-style? Are we supposed to believe that two barnyard animals with legume-level IQs started doing the macarena?

Read the whole thing. Includes an interesting excursus into popular music for Jewish winter holidays.

Sha-na-na

November 18, 2009

Refrains can be good: Psalm 136 comes to mind. (“His steadfast love endures forever.”) Others seem a little less inspired–if no less fun–filling out a line, looking for a rhyme. “Sha-na-na,” “Na na na na na na na na na na na,” and “Pa rum pa pum pum.”

“The Little Drummer Boy” is proof that oldies are not necessarily goodies. First written in 1941, it has been covered more than 220 times, by artists as diverse as the Trapp Family Singers, Joan Jett, Alicia Keys, Boyz II Men, Gladys Knight, John Denver, the Brady Bunch, Neil Diamond, and a very-strange-bedfellows pairing of Bing Crosby and David Bowie. It was Richard Nixon’s favorite Christmas song. (‘Nuff said.) Apart from its uncreative refrain, the song is a shiny plastic piece of Christmas kitsch, on the order of “Silent Night” or “Away in a Manger,” downplaying the gritty fleshiness of the birth of Jesus.

On the plus side, it is the centerpiece of a charming Rankin-Bass TV special, and I think we can all long for the days when Yuletide TV specials were more like this and less like this.

And, as a holiday bonus, enjoy this little gem: