#1 Christmas music

A Charlie Brown Christmas This should come as no shock. I mean, when one thinks about classic Christmas records, classic Christmas shows, how can you NOT think of this music? From this classic TV special, now 45 years old, we have Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas. Everyone, everybody reading this on this site, has seen the show in question, grew up with Snoopy and the Peanuts on our TV screens and in our hearts.

I believe that Vince Guaraldi is the first encounter many people have with jazz music. While he is not an artist I would deem revolutionary I am a huge fan of Guaraldi, his sound and his works. I dig his work with Cal Tjader, his solo stuff, his Peanuts work, and his freakier stuff in the late 60s/early 70s. Guaraldi passed away after a club gig in 1976, leaving behind an unfinished body of work. I think he is best known for his Peanuts work but he does have more than just the sounds we are familiar with.

Vince Guaraldi

Vince Guaraldi

What other Christmas music is such a piece of our collective experiences and our own personal histories? The music is as familiar as the Little Debbie ads from the shows when I was a kid. What other Christmas music is so instantly soothing, instantly calm and peaceful? When you hear the music, you see the Peanuts, you see the snow, you see yourself as a child watching the program. Guaraldi’s style is soft, like footprints on snow, and it draws you in, makes you listen.

I cannot think of another complete LP of music that SOUNDS like Christmas, FEELS like Christmas, IS Christmas more than this soundtrack. Even in the uptempo moments, like “Linus & Lucy” and “Skating,” the music is a celebration of the season.

What makes Christmas Christmas? What makes Christmas Christmas as a child? Presents, time away from school, fancy dinner and fancy breakfasts, snow, and the time spent with family. What makes Christmas Christmas as an adult? For me, now, it is the stillness of Christmas evening. The day is done, the lights are still on the tree but the mayhem and the anticipation are gone. It is quiet and it is still and it is beautiful. You can let your mind go, let your worries go, and embrace the bygone childhood feelings, feel your past as fresh as the present moment.

As a parent, Christmas is those things and more, as now you re-live your own memories and experiences of Christmas through the eyes of your children. Their excitement, their energy, their joy. As a parent you want to give them all that you had growing up. You want your children to feel about Christmas the way that you used to. If you are lucky, you will get to have grandchildren to experience it all again, the beauty of the cycle of things.

I want my children to love the holiday season, I want them to have the same kind of memories that I remember, the same experiences and emotions. During the season, on the weekend, when I play holiday music I play a few different things. But above all else I play the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Guaraldi. It is a record for the past, for the present, and for the future. It is a perfect gift in the truest sense of the word, a gift you can give every year that never goes out of style.

4 Responses to “#1 Christmas music”
  1. Mike Vincent says:

    This mix has been played 666 times since I uploaded it in November!
    Please enjoy it one last time!~
    The War Against Christmas Music by Mike Vincent

  2. Tim Carmody says:

    I’ve been seriously considering whether there’s a more iconic, enduring, important, more profound, better-composed half-hour of produced television in history than A Charlie Brown Christmas. I think it may take the prize.

    • Mike Vincent says:

      I’m struck by the notes of concern over the holiday in the special. Specifically the threat of over-commercialization. There are elements of that threat in the Easter special, where the gang goes to buy eggs (oh Marcy, you dolt!) and encounters signs everywhere signaling how many days left until Christmas.

      Maybe the theme I’ve been trying to discuss, the feeling of how Christmas USED to be, is not an uncommon or recent development.

      If Charles Schultz and the team behind this special felt that Christmas was becoming too commercial FORTY FIVE years ago what does that say for today?

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  1. […] ruins what should be a nice, reflective time of year. Some Christmas music is timeless, the Charlie Brown Christmas LP is one of the greatest complete set of Christmas music you could ever hope to have. Soft, […]

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