One of the first signs of the Christmas season of course is the sound of music; music certainly plays a major role in stirring our feelings for this magical time of year. Some would argue that it starts too soon and is based on consumer spending. To a point I have to agree, especially when the same songs are played over and over in a mall or store, I sympathize with the store clerks or box store greeters.
I have to admit that I am someone who could (and have) play Christmas songs in July just because I love the melody and it instills all sorts of good feelings inside me. In Newfoundland I feel we are blessed with a unique musical heritage that has gifted us with wonderful songs of the season. Some of these songs are adaptations of songs from our ancestors, and some are songs of our native province. They have character and tell of past Christmases or events that are dear to our heart.
I would like to start a new tradition, below is “my” Top 10 Christmas songs from Newfoundland and Labrador.
Please take the time to read and comment on songs you might not agree with or tell me of your songs you would place there. Please note only songs from NL, written and performed are acceptable.
Ok, lets start things off with the Irish Descendants; “Heading Home for Christmas” is a song that grows on you. Their Christmas CD “The Gift” is in fact a gift of wonderfully arranged songs that can be played from start to finish. To pick up a copy go to http://www.avondalemusic.com/artists.html
“Merry Christmas from Home”
One of the greatest ambassadors of Newfoundland and Labrador wrote and performed this song. Kevin Collins has unique voice, it is very crisp and clear, certainly one of my favorite artists.
This CD can be purchased at http://landwashdistribution.com/christmas.htm . Take a look at this site as it has a great assortment of Newfoundland/Christmas music.
“Christmas Tree Eyes”
This is probably an unlikely song for my list, but if you really listen to it I find it is easy to get swept up into the lyrics and melody of this classic song. I first heard it while listening to VOAR radio while running a errand with my father, he really liked it (and still does), and I guess when I hear it, it will always remind me of him. The Ellis and Wince Coles recording is still available at http://www.geocities.com/winelco/albums.htm
“Christmas Eve in St.John’s”
I love this song, for those of you who have not heard it, go find it!! You can buy it here http://www.tidespoint.com
Not only is D’arcy Broderick one of the best fiddlers in the province and in Canada, he has one of the most identifiable and amazing voices in traditional music.
“I’ll Be There Christmas Eve”
Written by the legendary Ron Hynes for the Ennis Sisters. It is a beautiful song with amazing tight harmonies.
“Christmas in the River”
Well this song had to be on my list.
Back some years ago when I played in the Celtic band Erin’s Call, we recorded a song composed by my brother Barry. I heard the song on the radio yesterday for the first time this season; it still makes me smile to hear about our childhood at Christmas, every word is so true!! Many people from Riverhead and other communities take great pride in the song, as the setting is so indicative of rural Newfoundland and Labrador during the holidays. Thanks for writing it Barry.
“The Mummers Song”
Bud Davidge wrote this song 25 years ago as part of the duo Simani, and if this were a countdown from the local radio stations it would probably be # 1 on the list. But!! It is my list and it sits at # 4.
This song has help keep alive the old custom of Mummering (Jannying) and is a favorite of Mainlanders and Newfoundland and Labradorians . There is even a book published based on this song which was illustrated by Ian Wallace and published by Groundwood Books. If you get an opportunity pick it up, it is worth the read, the illustrations are also fantastic.
A Frank Willis is known for composing songs that are truly Newfoundland in content. This particular song tugs at the heartstrings of most people who are living away and long for the opportunity to come home for Christmas. This song has been around for years and is still heavily requested.
An amazing song written by the late Dermot O’Reilly, it needs to be said that he was not born in Newfoundland and Labrador but he lived here from most of his life and left a legacy that will never be forgotten. This original version is the best, for those of you who are not from NL you can tune into www.vocm.com or www.ozfm.com (there are others) and request this classic.
# 1 !!!
“Christmas in the Harbour”
Written by Gary O’Driscoll for a CBC TV special this song bloomed into a holiday classic immediately. Gary has produced and collaborated with some of the best bands in our province including one of my favorite traditional bands The Irish Descendants.
When you listen to this song pay careful attention to the accordion work going on in the background.
There is so many more bands who have recorded Christmas music but the songs are not penned by them or someone in Newfoundland and Labrador. Once again if you would like to recommend more traditional Christmas music I would love to hear from you by using the comments page on the bottom of each blog. (Come on, let’s have some fun with this and get involved. If I get a good response I will post “your” 10 ten trad songs of the season so pass this along). If I have an opportunity I will do a top ten traditional and Irish Christmas song list. I have many to choose from!!.
*Please note that if any information given above in inaccurate I would appreciate the correction.