A-caroling we will not go…

Christmas MusicDoes anyone go caroling anymore? Apparently they still go caroling in Australia (see Carols by Candlelight). But I’ve heard no carolers in these parts for some time now. I fear it’s a gone tradition here. I wouldn’t mind hearing some carolers outside our place. Susan would have some wassail brewing. I grab my guitar and tell her I’m going out to do some solo-a-caroling. Give me that guitar, she says. You’ve had enough wassail for one night.

So, no caroling. Meantime, we get the Christmas music out. This year we keep coming back to one of those Starbucks compilations, Making Merry. Willie Nelson opens with Norah Jones on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” featuring a steely guitar and a briefly haunting harmonica break, just enough to bring the chill in, the reminder that Christmases, for all their warmth, all become a Christmas past. Another standout on this CD is Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass on “My Favorite Things,” which ends, oddly enough, with some sort of James Bond theme riffing. But it is cold outside, and I was in Fort Huachuca one winter, and can tell you it gets cold down south too. Anyway, baby, it’s cold outside here now, so to dispel the chill, I put some Elvis on and the place starts to warm. A couple of good ones on this It’s Christmas Time CD, like “Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me),” and “Blue Christmas.”

What am I going to sing with my guitar if I go out a-caroling, Susan asks. Come on, baby, I say. I’ll be Barenaked Ladies & you can be Sarah McLachlan and we’ll do a cover of their uptempo “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” We’ll both be arrested, Susan says, and not by God. Oh, well, I say, and put on the classic Vince Guaraldi Trio doing the jazz inspired A Charlie Brown Christmas.

John FaheyWe saw the great, original, finger-style guitarist John Fahey at the Ash Grove in Los Angeles many Christmases ago. The New Possibility came out in 1974 (Takoma Records), and includes the far-out pieces “Christ’s Saints of God Fantasy” (Hopkins-Fahey), and “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming” (Praetorius). Popular Songs of Christmas & New Year’s, with Portland’s renowned guitarist Terry Robb, came out in 1983. Some very cool medleys, and “The Skater’s Waltz,” and “The Waltz You Saved for Me.” Maybe I can talk Susan into a New Year’s waltz, if I can’t go a-caroling.


  1. I miss caroling also. When I was little, we used to go door to door singing Christmas carols. It was great fun.
    Are you living in the U.S.? For the most part, I don’t believe it is considered acceptable (politically correct) anymore. Especially in the malls or public places. It is really, really sad.

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Hi, Mary…thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, NWUS, Portland. And you got me thinking of a year, before the Lloyd Center mall was enclosed, when we saw a group of nuns singing carols in the cold one year, snow falling, lovely. So it goes.

  2. J. Willows says:

    A group of students from Warner recently went caroling, though I’m not sure where they went. However, it isn’t likely that they strayed far from campus. Also, a group of my friends and I took our instruments down to The Courtyard Retirement Home and played a set of carols last week. That probably doesn’t count as actual caroling, but fear not. I am sure that brave people full of Christmas spirit still go around singing in some part of the world.

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Well, that’s cool to hear you guys have been out and about with instruments and voices.

      1. J. Willows says:

        Indeed. It is something that should very likely be done more often and by more people though.

  3. Dan Hennessy says:

    Susan is absolutely right ! Stay home with the warm glass of wassail and relax . Carolers have to have a top hat , anyway , and I doubt that you have one . Merry Christmas !

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Thanks, Dan. Have a good night.

  4. Geannie Newell says:

    Caroling on Mt. Scott, door to door, is a tradition at my Church. One family was so amazed that they asked us to stay while they ran and got some guests that were visiting them from another country. Too many people, I am saddened to say, peek out their window at us wondering what in the world we are up to. Even if the neighbors don’t enjoy it, we the carolers do. You don’t need a good voice, just a willingness to be a magical part of Christmas. Merry Christmas to all.

    1. Joe Linker says:

      That’s cool, Geannie. Carol on!

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