Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Music

I know it can get cliché at times, but I still love Christmas music.

"O, Tannebaum" (from Charlie Brown Xmas).

"Jingle Bells" - gets me every time.

"Over the River and Through the Woods" - not sure what season this goes with, but I think of it every time I go to my grandmother Curry's.

"We Three Ships" - Sufjan Stevens sings this old-school Xmas song as part of his five-CD box set.

and "Silent Night" - aka "Stille Nacht." yeah, that's classic. and it appears in Joyeux Noel (2005) - one of my least mentioned favorite films.

I also really like Zooey Deschanel. (don't really know why, but I do.)

She's got her acting stuff - in films like 500 Days of Summer (2009): which made me go back one last time, in the middle of winter, avoiding long lines of traffic, in a fit of near desperation, to say "hi" to a nice red-head I was madly (that is, blindly) in love with. we're okay now.

She was also in Elf (2003)  - my favorite Christmas movie.

And she was in Almost Famous (2000) - the watching of which, back in the spring of 2010, pretty much got me started with the whole idea of this blog.

Zooey (not that we're on a first name basis or anything) also acts for TV - in the new show, New Girl.    I haven't yet seen any of it. but I hear the critics "love" it.    And I hear Deschanel basically just plays herself.

And she's started her own company / website - HelloGiggles, which if I were a woman, I would LOVE!! but as it is, I hate it.

Besides all this, Ms. Deschanel was once married to Ben Gibbard, lead singer for the band Death Cab for Cutie - I wrote a loving review of their new album once. because I think they're awesome.

But anyways, Deschanel is also a modest member of a modest band called rather nonchalantly She & Him. The "Him" of this band (that's worth celebrating, even if they try to avoid celebrity) is a guy "from" Portland (because that's where he made his well-deserved musical reputation. he was born in CA) who goes by the name M. Ward. And this music-making duo just came out with a Christmas album, appropriately entitled A Very She & Him Christmas, that features mostly traditional Christmas songs of the earlier 20th century with a pared-down sound that ends just when you like it. Often it's just their voices and an acoustic guitar, going with the first or second take, not trying to be perfect, just trying to be authentic. giving old songs new interpretations.

As we all know, Christmas music has a tendency to be overplayed. and then it gets annoying: the endless joy, the dramatic flourishes, the excessive good tidings, the too-bright lights and incessant drum-mer boys...

But I doubt She & Him will ever get old - and I've only been listening to them non-stop for two whole days! Instead of going for the grand, perfectly-planned gesture, She & Him go for the unexpected (yet welcome) twist: something short (the album is barely 32 minutes long). and something sweet (all the more for being short). My favorite (see below):

In sum, if Zooey Deschanel were a fruit, I think she'd be a lemon.
Not because she's defective. But because she's (kinda) a tart (which makes me laugh) and full of zest. She always makes things fresh.

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