23 December, 2010

Advent Calendar in Song: A Charlie Brown Christmas

I started out this Advent Calendar in Song with the Linus and Lucy dance from A Charlie Brown Christmas, yesterday I held the battle of the Christmas Cartoons, and of course this one is the best there ever has been or will be. It lightheartedly discusses the commercialized holiday, and seasonal alienation. Its unprecedented use of a jazz score, real children actors and no laugh track actually freaked out the TV execs who thought it was a disaster that would die gracefully after its first viewing. Instead it was greeted by acclaim, awards, and the annual devotion of its viewers.

The Vincent Guaraldi Jazz soundtrack was a triumphant landmark. It deftly conveys the joys of skating and Snoopy dancing, whilst also delineating the existential gloom that surrounds Charlie Brown as he trudges determined through the snow on his way to his next defeat. The special only has one original non instrumental song, Christmas Time Is Here: its cheerful lyrics and somber music, the antithesis of a Smith's song.

As a cultural Jew and a religious atheist (I occasionally indulge in poetic notions of the spiritual agnostic), the dogma, puritanism, and historical atrocities of Christianity have always been off putting. Oddly many of my closest friends have either dabbled with, or fully answered religious callings, two went to seminary, another considered a monastic order. My Best Man for my wedding is a Methodist Minister. Maybe they're the reason I don't hedge my bets, they might have some pull if I turn out to be wrong (of course, if they're wrong, they're no worse for it). Martin Scorsese's Last Temptation of Christ and The Linus Speech are the only things that have come close to helping me understand Christianity, and why anyone would buy into it, when they could otherwise just choose to be a good person.

Sadly, this, and the cartoons I wrote about yesterday, have never been inducted into the UK's repertoire of Christmas viewing, which for animation relies mostly on Raymond Brigg's surreal and slightly psychedelic The Snowman, with its soundtrack via castrati. Charlie Brown is a marker on my Christmas cultural landscape that I sorely miss.

Here's former Windham Hill pianist George Winston's take on the Vince Guaraldi.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good grief!

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home