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My Favorite Christmas Recordings #15 Ray Coniff Singers: Christmas With Conniff

Bitter, cynical, and borderline misanthropic for most of the year, I reform for the holiday season and from mid-November to the last minute of Epiphany I’m all about the season.  Readers of Old Road Apples will find themselves under a constant barrage of holiday fare this season–from themed essays to book reviews to a countdown of my very favorite Christmas recordings.


Ray Coniff: Christmas With Conniff

Here’s another super nostalgic choice from my childhood, hammering home how much of Christmas is, for me, a sort of hazy-around-the-edges sentimentalism–a striving for “that feeling.”  I guess that Ray Conniff was some sort of chorale director–all of these songs are sung by a chorus, a really good chorus.  When I hear these songs, I still imagine a bunch of really happy, healthy, clean-cut 1960’s Americans singing on the back of a hayride–or sleigh ride–and it turns out that I’m sort of right.

This stuff is just timeless, and the more that our holiday celebrations devolve into a morass of sectarian conflict (between normal Americans and right-wing Christian jihadists… ) and commercial overkill, the more I enjoy reaching back for the seemingly unspoiled, can’t we all just get along, kind of music I heard when I was a little kid.  Of course, when I was a little kid it was the height of Viet Nam, and my first memory of watching television was sitting around my grandparents’ house while the Watergate trials played out on every channel–so it’s pretty safe to say that this nostalgia thing is more about idealization and selective memory.  I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to imagine a better past than present, as long as we use that idealized past as a touchstone to build a better future.