Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Jack Johnson included

Yesterday I attended one of my family's favorite Christmas traditions: Tuba Christmas.  My husband is a tuba player,only for fun these days. Tuba Christmas is his annual opportunity to play with a large band which is an adrenaline rush when it is composed of a minimum of 85 tubas, usually many more but the weather interfered yesterday.  It is free, it is holiday-spirited and always fun. In Nashville, we also have an eight piece Dixieland ensemble of musicians who play for 20-30 minutes before the concert and are wonderful, playing off the cuff and pretty much showing up close and personal how wonderful master musicians sound. That is one blessing of living in Music City. I may not love country music, but I enjoy anything live that is well-played and well-written which tends to be pretty common around here.

One of the Christmas standards in constant play this time of year is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, a Christmas fairy tale these days never mind its commercial origins.  At least I consider it much more of a fairy tale than either Wizard of Oz or Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland are.  Those are wonderful fantasy books, but they aren't fairy tales in the folkloric sense. Anyway, I digress and return again.

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

I enjoyed Rudolph as a kid but for years it has disturbed me as rather unresolved and horrible since Rudolph is only valued for one trait, one which has tormented him for years. He is happy that everyone is finally nice to him, but I never trusted those fickle reindeer to not turn on him again once the fog had cleared.  Then a few years ago, I was thrilled to hear Jack Johnson's version of the song which has become my absolute favorite and the only one I like to listen to now on my holiday playlist. It appeared on This Warm December: Brushfire Holiday's Vol. 1 and some other compilations.

I am embedding a concert performance of the song below with Johnson's introduction.  Essentially he added a verse to the song.  I still remember the first time I heard it, not expecting the verse and then I replayed it about ten times in a row, determined to memorize it. I was charmed. "Rudolph, he didn't go for that..." etc. So here's a bit of a Christmas fairy tale, added to by an artist, to make it even richer, especially in a world where bullying has been a serious topic of late (and always in the history of the world).

And do look for a Tuba Christmas opportunity in your area.  It's amazing how so many strangers come together with an 80 year age range to make great music in the community after an hour or so of practice. It is always an inspiring way to celebrate the holiday season. It's rather like a better organized flash mob of Christmas music.

1 comment:

  1. That is totally my favorite version of Rudolph now too! Thanks for sharing! The traditional version never sat well with me, either, and I always cringe at the number of horrible -isms in the Rankin/Bass special.