A minor disaster hit the shop this week. I’m not talking about the weather decimating sales or our selling out of faux fur hats and Steiff mini bears. No, much worse, our CD player, after many years’ hammering, finally threw in the towel. It probably couldn’t face playing Bert Kaempfert’s Tijuana Christmas for the zillioneth time.
Consequently we had to resort to putting on the radio to entertain our customers. As it turns out, I found our local independent station offered a very nice mix of music, until that is I heard it advertising a rival Winchester gift shop. It was at that moment I really found myself missing our Christmas CDs. But then I love Christmas songs- both carols and secular. I even find myself singing them in the middle of summer until I’m told to shut up (although that happens whatever I’m singing).
For me, the best Christmas crooner is Frank Sinatra. He makes the worst Christmas song ever sound good. The song in question being the one that begins ‘Oh by gosh by golly, it’s time for mistletoe and holly’ and proceeds to throw in every Christmas cliche you can think of. To me, it’s even worse that Cliff Richard’s Mistletoe And Wine. And no, I don’t have a thing about mistletoe, some of my best experiences have taken place under it.
Until I heard Frank’s Christmas album, I was never that keen on what seemed to me to be a weak, slightly off-key singing voice. So it was listening to Jingle Bells rather than My Way that suddenly I got what it was that people love about him. His art is in making what he does seem so relaxed, easy, almost louche but at the same time not entirely effortless, so the slight strain makes you feel he could be you attempting to sing- if only you had his phrasing and his sense of rhythm. So, thanks for a Merry Christmas, Frank- and Merry Christmas to you too.