Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Stepping Into Christmas #1

How have I held off so long? How have I a) not written about Sufjan, the most blogged about artist of anyone, ever, already? and b) not posted a Christmas song in the four days since it became Chistmasember? Mostly university-based essays, I'm afraid to say, but that's all behind us - it's Christmas and Santa Sufjan is the best man for the music-based jobs that are sure to pop up everywhere now. After all, it was Stevens who just under a year ago released his 5 EP boxset of Christmas songs, providing independent-folksters up and down the hemisphere to jump for joy at no less than two hours and forty-two songs-worth of unadultered Sufjany Christmas joy!

Indeed, since my self-imposed Christmas Song Ban receeded on the first of December, no other Christmas song has been played as much as his fantastically titled 'Get Behind Me, Santa!' As a theologian I can't help but wonder how many people completely miss or ignore the obvious Jesus reference and think 'Ooh! White Stripes! How culturally relevant!' Try Matt. 16:23 or Mark 8:33. Biblegateway it, bitches!

Still, with or without Passion-style references, the song is fantastic, fun and ever so slightly schizophrenic (the lyrics reveal at least three characters, of which at least two are voiced by Stevens). It's a fun song, and though it's ultimately a bit down on the whole Christmas experience for the protaganist, it works for me, and keeps me shining inside.

Much the same goes for the second track of choice, Sufjan's cover of Christian standard 'Amazing Grace'. When I attempted last year on Christmas morn to soundtrack the opening of presents with all five EPs (thank goodness for 5-cd stereo systems) my mother bluntly described it as akin to listening to a 'hillbilly Christmas'. That hurt, mum, that hurt. It seems a little unfair to put tracks like this down to hillbilly status just because they use the banjo. Indeed, the banjo makes this version of the song, and it's certainly my favourite recorded version. It'd be my favourite of all time, but there's a guy at church who plays it to the tune of 'House of the Rising Sun'. Whatever the case, I'll be making another sneaky attempt to soundtrack Christmas with these songs again this year.

mp3: 'Get Behind Me, Santa!' by Sufjan Stevens
mp3: 'Amazing Grace' by Sufjan Stevens

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