Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rant #411: My Favorite Christmas Song

As a good Jewish person, I collect numerous singles, LPs and digital material related to the Christmas holiday.

You have to understand that there are so few Hanukkah novelty records, videos and such, although they do exist.

And I am not talking about Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song," which I absolutely abhor (it is a ripoff of an earlier song which I think was called "People Who Are Jews," but I can't remember the performer, although it was released on Rhino Records years ago.)

Anyway, a good Jew like me has plenty of stuff in my record collection, everything from Squeeze's "Christmas Day" to Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas," and probably everything in between.

And yes, I know that good Jews Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow have all recorded albums of Christmas music, but nothing for their own holiday. No, I don't have them in my collection. I guess I am not as good a Jew as they are.

But let me point you in the direction of my favorite Christmas song. It has been my favorite since 1967, or whenever I first heard it. But it wasn't officially released for some two decades later, although it had been bootlegged continuously since it was shown on national television back in the 1960s.

It is a Christmas song that doesn't even have the word "Christmas" in it.

It isn't even in English.

The song that I am talking about is ...

"Riu Chiu" by the Monkees.

This song is in Spanish, and if you translate it, it is about Christ and the Nativity and many other themes related to the holiday.

But I know that the actual term "Riu Chiu" doesn't translate into English because it actually doesn't mean anything. I think it is the writer's interpretation of the "chirp" of a nightingale.

Anyway, the Monkees performed this on their Christmas episode in 1967. You might remember the episode. A rich, spoiled and friendless young boy--played by Butch Patrick right after "The Munsters" ended its run--is taught the meaning of the holiday by Micky, Peter, Mike and Davy.

I mean, who better to teach the kid this than the Monkees?

The song comes near the end of the episode, and the beautiful vocals will really surprise you. And you thought these guys didn't have talent?

There are a few versions of this song that are available on CDs and on the Internet. The first is the TV version I described above, with all four Monkees participating. The second is a recorded version with all four Monkees, and the third is a recorded version with producer Chip Douglas added to the vocal mix.

But the song is beautiful in all of its incarnations. I have always enjoyed it.

So please watch and listen to the song, and have a very merry holiday.

As a good Jew, I am taking a little Christmas break myself, and will be back here next Tuesday.

Have a great holiday.

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