Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Sometime in the last decade, when I wrote for a popular blog, I realized that one of the cheapest ways of getting a discussion going was to bring up the "worst of" topic, worst movies, worst books, worst Christmas song. I told them about the worst Christmas album of all time, which, so far as I know wasn't ever made. I invented it to threaten to put on Steve and Eydie's Christmas in Las Vegas if the stragglers at a Christmas party didn't clear out so I could go to bed.
I was tempted to put up one of the worst of arguable seasonal horrors, the recording of Bach's Magnificat as performed IN ENGLISH! by the gargantuan Mormon Tabernacle Choir and an orchestra under the should-have-known-better direction of the late Eugene Ormandy. But, listening to the first few minutes of it, I can't do that to anyone. It is one of the worst performances of a piece of great music I've ever heard. It's not an incompetent performance, it is just entirely wrong and an offense against music. It deserves to be an example of the truly terrible idea that translating can turn into. I really don't think there is any way to translate the text of the Magnificat into English which will fit any setting of the Latin text which won't do fatal damage to the music and, so, the text.
As to the worst Christmas song of all time? I don't know but for me it might be the putrescent, phony and syrupy Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas from the dreadful Meet Me in St. Louis. That is the song that could make me get violent if I were subjected to it under stress, one of the many reasons I never, ever go shopping during the Christmas season anymore. It is responsible for me growing to hate the sound of Judy Garland's voice, it took decades for it to have that effect but the last time I heard the recording of her singing it I realized I couldn't stand to hear her voice anymore. Which is too bad as I used to like her singing. Don't get me started on Sinatra or Elvis. It's been a King and Chairman of the Board free Christmas for me, so far, and I don't want to jinx that. And don't get me started on Regis and Kathie's version of Silver Bells. Such a thing does exist, it has to be heard to be believed how bad it is. And both of them did Christmas albums, though that's the only number from them I've ever been involuntarily subjected to. It seared a permanent scar into my memory.
Posted by The Thought Criminal at 11:21 AM