December 21st, 2016


midweek music: The Jethro Tull Christmas Album

Over their years, the band Jethro Tull (my favorite band) has done several holiday songs, and they decided to put them all together, and add some new ones, in 2003 with the release of The Jethro Tull Christmas Album. The re-recordings of previously recorded songs are generally okay, nothing great (except for the nifty new arrangement of "Bourée"), but the new songs are a delight, and here they are.

First there's "Birthday Card at Christmas," which Ian Anderson wrote for his daughter, whose birthday is in late December:

They did some fun takes on traditional Christmas carols, including "Holly Herald," which mixes a few different ones together, a variation on "We Three Kings" called "We Five Kings," and a take on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" that sounds like it came from the soundtrack of a film from 1952.....

The aforementioned nifty new arrangement of Bach's "Bourée":

They also did a new arrangement of Gabriel Fauré's "Pavane," which debuted on this album, and it also became a regular part of their live set. My favorite, though, is the versions Ian Anderson has done while accompanied by an orchestra. Here's one from 2005:

Finally one that this New Yorker likes a bunch, "First Snow on Brooklyn," which actually evokes that NYC borough pretty decently for something written by a guy from Blackpool:

  • Current Music
    "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" by Jethro Tull

happy solstice!

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us — Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!

---Susan Cooper, "The Shortest Day"
  • Current Music
    "Hot Mango Flush" by Jethro Tull