|George Winston's album, "December," image used with permission of copyright holder.|
The other day I looked for some music I purposely do not play except at the holidays. For 11 months, it is silent. It's George Winston's December. I was introduced to this music my freshman year of college by my friend Dave. He told me, "Buy this, you'll thank me later." He was right.
It is, to me, both peaceful and gently haunting. It is great background music, although I prefer the Charlie Brown instrumental music or Jimmy Buffett's Christmas Island as a better choice if people are over. I find December best suited for the end of the day, when work is done. This music should share no stage with more clumsy entertainment. The TV needs to be off when I listen to this music. For me, it is a a jolt of nostalgia. I can recall driving home from Iowa City from college, knowing a semester was complete and looking forward to seeing the friends I had not seen since the fall with this cassette playing. Later, I got the CD. Then, a few years ago, I downloaded it. Various mechanisms to deliver the same amazing sounds.
Some of the songs are classics, others less well known. My personal favorite is "Variations on the Kanon" by Pachelbel. It begins slow, almost like a funeral march. From that admittedly sober starting point, it moves into an uplifting melody. It's playing right now and I usually end up closing my eyes at some point in the song and just listen. I suppose it is as close to meditation as I get. And yes, I am able to restrain the urge when driving.
Today I put the Camaro away for the year. You may recall from a previous blog post that it did come back to life this spring and I did get it out on the road a bit. Although it is a bit sad to know that there are many cold days between now and the next time I drive it, that is part of the deal for living in Iowa. When winter comes, those things summer must yield. As I was driving it to the garage, I played December on my phone. In a way, that decision did not make sense. The Camaro is all about sun and fun, a top down and rock music. Yet as I drove past the trees bare of leaves, the snow covered fields, against a backdrop of a retreating sun in my rear-view mirror, I concluded that this was the perfect music to be playing. It was more than seizing another opportunity to hear music that will fall silent come a few weeks. No, it was more that that. It was a way, at least for me, to bridge experiences that normally do not occur together. It was a proper and fitting send-off. When I drive the Camaro next, December will be in its own garage.
I hope this holiday season you listen to old favorites and make some new ones. Music is important year-round but especially during the time between Thanksgiving and New Years'. When in doubt, play the holiday music you like, for sooner than we realize, it will all be silent again.
Be well my friends,