Twelve Songs of Christmas

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” with The Ornaments and Joel Dinerstein

November 13, 2019

A Charlie Brown Christmas has a special place in the hearts of many. The cartoon from 1965 introduced generations of children to “ennui” before they had a name for it, and the soundtrack by The Vince Guaraldi Trio added some emotional gravity to effervescence that characterizes much of the Christmas canon. The album’s centerpiece, “Christmas Time is Here,” became a Christmas standard in the 1990s, when it was covered by Mel Tormé, Chicago, Shawn Colvin and guitarist Steve Vai, and last year Houston’s global indie/psychedelic rock band Khruangbin released a great version of the song.

During the 12 Songs conversation with Chuck Mead that started this season, Mead talked about his inability to play Christmas concerts because his drummer, Martin Lynds, was busy in December with another band, The Ornaments, who perform the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack from beginning to end in a series of show through the month of December in Nashville. The Ornaments have been doing playing these gigs for 14 years now, and recently, host Alex Rawls talked to Lynds and pianist Jen Gunderman about The Ornaments, Vince Guaraldi, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and what’s wrong with Santa in the animated Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

After that, this episode returns to a guest from earlier this season, Joel Dinerstein. Dinerstein is a professor at Tulane University who has written extensively about notions of cool in America, and he recently appeared on 12 Songs to talk about cool and uncool Christmas songs. During that conversation, Dinerstein talked about A Charlie Brown Christmas, but since the episode was lengthy with a lot to think about before it got to that section, Rawls decided to hold that section until now. The second section of today’s show is that exchange.

Recently, listener Raymond Martin shared a massive Christmas playlist that he posted on Google Play. You can hear it here, and if you have a Christmas playlist you want to share, you can reach Alex through Facebook or by emailing alex@myspiltmilk.com. If you think you've got good taste in Christmas music and/or some cool obscurities, show us what you've got. 'tis the season! 

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