The Friday Morning Listen: The Vince Guaraldi Trio – A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

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I would like to be all quiet and happy and wish everybody a beautiful holiday season but I’m just not feeling it. In fact, I’m pissed off, a little depressed, and ready to punch the next person I see. If they’re in a suit, they might also get a tire iron upside the head.

What does a person do if the holiday season swirls around them, competing with their own sour brain waves for attention? Good question. I don’t have a good answer. The ridiculous thing about this is that, in one form or another, this happens to me almost every single year. You’d think I’d be used to it, or at least ready for it.

Yesterday morning I was out running some errands and listened to most of an hour-long country music radio show that was full of Christmas tunes. No, I don’t mean the empty-hat stuff that passes for country these days. It was the real thing. Maybe the most genuine hour I’ve experienced in a while. It should have helped. It didn’t.

So I grabbed a book of music essays, figuring that some interesting looks at things might set loose some positive ideas. The first thing I read (and yes, I know that this is an opinion) was that Bruce Springsteen is not a good songwriter. I should have laughed, but the laugh circuits are not operational at the moment. I then moved on to a review of George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. Now here’s an interesting fact for you: I have read tons of words about that album, while somehow managing to have never heard the music. The fact that I can’t stand that “My Sweet Lord” song (which I have heard on the radio) is unrelated. You’ll have to trust me on that.

OK, so much for the book of music essays. How about, say, my own writing? Lately I’ve been getting suggestions that maybe I should step up and write a review of The National’s High Violet. Maybe the weight of my mood will be lightened if I spend some time unleashing some bile on a band whose music I detest? Possibly, but that would mean I’d have to listen to the album again and, well, I don’t think it’s a good idea.

And since I appear to be spending some time here dumping on these supposedly terrific records, I should say that while looking at a Springsteen-related web forum recently, I read (for what seems like the millionth time), that Bruce’s Tunnel of Love is a “masterpiece.” I’m sorry, but a masterpiece — no matter how “amazing” the lyrics are — does not employ a clave (a Latin percussion instrument only slightly less annoying than the castanet) on more than one song. The essay author of paragraph #4 called his first album “unlistenable.” I won’t go that far with Tunnel. It comes very close though.

Between this paragraph and the last, I let the dog outside and stood in the chill air looking up at the stars. They’re absolutely beautiful, at least that’s what my intellectual side tells me. The rest of me hopes it can agree sometime soon.

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at [email protected]
Mark Saleski
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