“Noel” Rhymes With “Oh Hell”

I think the shadow has finally blotted out the Sun. In the last hour I’ve switched the classical station off and then on again three times. First it was the 95th or so track from “Christmas Goes Baroque,” and let me tell you Jingle Bells is just as stupid and repetitive played by a string ensemble with an ostinato descant. Then it was some Romantic version of “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” (did you know the fluid in female ejaculate is slightly viscous but transparent? Just free associating).  The third time they were sawing away at “O Come All Ye Faithful” (oh, stop; this is too easy). I got out the stack of random thrift-store CDs that a friend gave me as an early seasonal present — Grainger, Gounod, Hovhaness — and cued up Continuous Play.

For pity’s sake, how many times can a station that plays the only decent music in town the rest of the year moan “The First Noel” at us? More often than any other, that’s the one that hits me between the eyes. “No-oo-e-eel, No-o-ELLL, No-o-o-e-eeel No-o–oEEEEEE-el…”

I actually liked “Midnight Clear” and “Little Town Of Bethlehem” when I heard them for the first time — when I was four years old, hello? — because I liked the changes into the minor key and back out again, something I love in John Dowland’s music to this day. But enough, enough, ferchrissake people, even the disgustingly cutified Bebby Jeebus himself would say CHANGE THE MUSIC at this point.

The first time I encountered the lyrics to The First Noel I had not yet learned to sight sing, but that never stopped me from contriving melodies to any lyric I encountered. I grew up with musicians jamming in the living room, after all. And the melody I invented was a smartly descending tonic arpeggio in six-eight time that got the refrain out of the way in a New York minute, one note to a syllable. It sounded a lot like the Roto-Rooter jingle.

If only.


16 thoughts on ““Noel” Rhymes With “Oh Hell”

  1. The only Christmas music I can stand is those wholly bizarro Renaissance-type carols that are wonderfully modal and have strange lyrics such as: “So Mary gathered cherries/While Joseph stood around.”

  2. I’ve almost forgotten what this sounds like.


    Abstractions-of-natural-phenomena-willing, I shall not be reminded.

    I like some Xmas music, if it is artfully arranged. But the shit they play in public places has quite taken me out of the shopping market.

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