“Chestnuts roasting over an open fire…. Jack Frost biting your nose…” Nat King Cole’s honest voice came out of the radio like maple sugar one Christmas day in Miami.
It was heading 90 degrees and the palm trees were swaying. But for me, in an instant, with the lyrics and soothing accompaniment of the orchestra, I was whisked away to Vermont, snow showers and hot chocolate on a cozy afternoon. It was the music – attached to a memory – that held the magic.
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Even though science tells us that in ranking the senses and how each can relate us to a memory or feeling, the sense of hearing ranks last after smell, taste, sight and touch. . It is, however, when paired with music that the sound seems perfectly ready to recall mental impressions of long ago.
We know that people with dementia and loss of many other means of communication are able to sing full lyrics of songs they have already known, able to hum complex symphonic melodies and appear emotionally animated in music. .
And that’s how the Tallahassee Democrat began to think about the songs, hymns, seasonal ditties that the people of Tallahassee hum to each other this year – and the memories their musical earworms might conjure up. We decided to ask for a few.
While this year there may be fewer public places where we hear Christmas music, surprisingly, people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s will likely be able to identify most of the top ten Christmas carols. from 2021.
“Jingle Bells” and “Ave Maria”
Writer Rhett DeVane says she loved “Jingle Bells” since she was a child, finding it easy to play the piano and helping her conjure up images of rushing through the snow on a sled… so far north of Florida. She added “Ave Maria” as an adult to her favorite Christmas music. “I still remember the feeling of awe and wonder he aroused.”
‘He came on a midnight light’
“Vivid images of golden harps and angels bending down close to the earth”, as we hear in It “Came Upon a Midnight Clear” have remained with David wheeler since he was a boy. “… A cold and starry night, peace and goodwill towards men… it is a glorious song of the past!
“Grandmother got run over by a reindeer”
Grayal Earle Farr remembers a local radio disc jockey who, after being fired around Christmas, took revenge by barricading himself in the station’s studio and playing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” on repeat continues for hours. “People who had never heard of this station have tuned in! “
“I’ll be home for Christmas”, “Celebrate me at home”
Geoffroy Brown becomes nostalgic when he hears “I’ll be home for Christmas”, reminding him of the father of a friend who served in WWII and who cried every time he heard him. Kenny Loggins’ Celebrate Me Home reminds Brown that he missed his own home when he was in college.
Pat stanford and Pat McVety remember beautiful Christmas carols sung in German and Latin. Singing in choirs since his childhood, Stanford remembers the candlelit a cappella vocals singing “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht” (Silent Night), and for McVety, raising his voice with “O Come All Ye Faithful” in Latin is his memory. favorite childhood.
Bruce ballister, another writer, sang the soprano in a church choir. “Silent Night”… those words still touch me. I remember in my New Jersey backyard as heavy snow fell through the hardwoods, the sound of the soft “hiss” of snowflakes hitting bare branches… This song has never been so poignant.
“Have a merry little Christmas”
Poet and photographer Katie clark uses Bing Crosby’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to remember his grandmother who planted a 50-year-old tree, untangled lights and unwrapped precious ornaments. “I like to think that she’s with me as I decorate my own tree and listen to Bing… have my own merry little Christmas.”
And the Williams Christmas album
Writer Susan sapp koehler said, “My sister was setting the mood with Andy Williams and his Christmas album on the living room stereo… and we were decorating the hallways… or at least the living room!” Even now, when I hear this song, I get a feeling of excitement and anticipation.
Alexandra doyle says she remembers her mother (me) explaining to her what a ‘white Christmas’ was… “I was a little Florida native who just couldn’t imagine much of the rest of the country covered in snow . We had a blanket of snow that year, and I sang a white Christmas for a week!
‘Oh come on, oh come on, Emmanuel’
Michael underwood and Mary jane ryals shared that each of them has always loved, “Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel.” Ryals says, “This hymn sounds like American music, with classical harmonies and a minor key that adds to the solemnity of the season, while the word ‘Emmanuel’ sounded so exotic to this southerner!
Most of our people in Tallahassee will remember the Christmas music, old Christmas carols and hymns from 40 years ago. Indeed, alumni are favorites across the country according to a Billboard poll.
Bing Crosby’s 80-year-old song, “White Christmas,” “Rockin ‘Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee, twittering Dean Martin, “Let It Snow,” “Holly Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives, and surprisingly, “Here Comes Santa Claus ”and“ Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer ”by none other than singer cowboy Gene Autry all remain in the top 10 for popular holiday tunes.
And so, this time of year, when you tune your radios or stream through your headphones, you can rediscover your past, the one where American Eagle sleds, snowball battles and snowmen, effigies of reindeer. , rotating dreidels and family celebrations are all safe in your memory bank. All it takes is music.
Pour in the eggnog, dim the lights, close your eyes and fondly remember.
Contact Marina Brown at: firstname.lastname@example.org Brown is the author of RPLA’s book of the year, Pitigliano’s Orphan, and recently published, When Women Danced with the Trees, 35 Unexpected Stories.
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