I have gone back and forth trying to decide which song I wanted to post on Christmas Day, which is the next-to-last day of my Virtual Musical Advent Calendar.
Originally I had planned on going with Joy to the World, which is the song that so many churches sing to end their Christmas and Christmas Eve services. I also considered O Holy Night, a perennial favorite of mine — mostly for the melody of its astoundingly sublime refrain. (You should definitely click on both links for fabulous renditions.) But ultimately, I have decided to go in a very different direction and post the song that most captures my feelings about Christmas after the long, arduous year that was 2017.
My selection, therefore, is Jackson Browne’s and the Chieftains’ The Rebel Jesus/Skyline Jig, two songs which are joined into one on the Chieftains’ Bells of Dublin, but which are frustratingly separated on YouTube.
I won’t bore you with the details of the song’s recording, because hey, it’s Christmas, and whether or not you’re celebrating the holiday, you have family and friends who love you with whom you could be bonding right now.
Instead, I’ll simply say that, for me as a non-believer, Browne’s lyrics from The Rebel Jesus perfectly sum up both my love of the season and my frustration with the politics needlessly inserted into it each year. But for me the more important piece is the Skyline Jig that follows. Yes, The Rebel Jesus rightly points out that much of the modern Christmas season is shopping malls, and Wars On Christmas, and consumerism, and fights over Starbucks cups. But Skyline Jig reminds me that, at the end of all that, what we are left with is this: drinking, and dancing, and music, and loved ones, and hope for the future, and a remembrance that simply being alive is this amazing miracle that we need to celebrate far more often than we do. The Rebel Jesus/Skyline Jig is in turns hopeful, cranky, augmentative, and, ultimately, joyous and full of love. As I listen to it now, I realize it may well be the perfect Tod holiday song.
Finally, there is this:
I chose to put this Virtual Musical Advent Calendar on my professional portfolio site, but there’s no question that I created it not for my editors and publishers, but for you — my friends and family who have honored me (and, frankly, kind of surprised me) by reading it regularly. I always wait until holidays and anniversaries to say what I need to find a way to say more often in 2018: that I love this world, and I love spending time in it with all of you. If I had a single Christmas wish, it would be this: that we could somehow all magically gather, feast, argue, imbibe, dance, sing, tell stories, and hoolie together — and not just this season, but often and everywhere.
I love all y’all, and feel blessed to have known each and every damn one of you.
I’ll see you all here on St. Stephen’s Day tomorrow to wrap up the Calendar.