24 Songs of Christmas, Dec. 2: 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing' -- Marty Robbins
Posted Monday, December 2, 2013, at 7:50 PM
I only wish this album cover was from Marty's moustachioed days.
December at 102 Fall St., Williamsport, Ind., was a month filled with music. I've never asked my dad what his favorite kind of music is, but I imagine it would go something like the immortal Blues Brothers line: "Both kinds, country and western."
And while there certainly would be an element of truth to that, I have long maintained that his favorite is truly Christmas music -- any genre, just Christmas music.
How else could you explain the stacks and stacks of holiday-themed LPs, 8-tracks and cassettes that littered our house and vehicles between late November and early January?
How else do you explain Dad taking a number of songs from those other media and re-recording them to the antique reel-to-reel player he set up in the front room?
And how else, may I ask, do you explain him hooking up every available speaker to play the music not only throughout the house, but to pipe it out to the neighborhood?
(As a side note, we once had a neighbor call the town marshal to complain about the nuisance of our Christmas music.)
Yes, indeed, Jake Jernagan loved (and still loves) Christmas music.
A special place was reserved, however, for country Christmas music.
In a sentimental mood a year or two ago, I went on to one of my favorite Internet radio sites and created a station called "Old Country Christmas" and them populated it almost entirely with some of my favorites from Charley Pride, The Statler Brothers, Merle Haggard and Tennessee Ernie Ford.
In addition to these, Hank Snow's version of "Little Stranger in a Manger" along with a version of "Christmas Time's A-Comin'" by some unkown female singer often dance through my head this time of year.
But the softest spot in my heart goes to Marty Robbins. It seems that when the king of the gunfighter ballad wasn't singing about the west Texas town of El Paso, he was waxing poetic about our favorite holiday.
Dad has long maintained Robbins gave the best concert he's ever seen, so it's no wonder that his Christmas album was also in heavy rotation at our house.
And while some of my favorite songs on the record were not Christmas standards -- "The Joy of Christmas" and "One of You (In Every Size)" come to mind -- it's hard to deny the power he brought to traditional Christmas hymns.
This version of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is especially poignant to me, lending the song exactly the mix of joy and reverence it deserves.
I'm grateful to Robbins for the legacy of song he left for everyone.
Personally, I'm even more grateful for the shared experiences with Dad these songs have provided, along with the memories they'll keep providing long after Dad is gone.
(Sorry, no video of this one.)
It appears the audio clip above will not load on a mobile device. (At least not my mobile device.) Thanks, Grooveshark.
As a consolation prize, here's another Marty Robbins Christmas classic.