Mark Twain once wrote that a classic is “a book which people praise and don't read.” In our modern world Christmas carols are classics. We start hearing them in shops (oddly) around Halloween. Our pop stars shine up and release often forgettable and strangely sexy versions of them each year. As the season progresses we sing silly and tired versions of them at parties and places of worship. The lyrics fly by with overly familiar melodies unheard or, perhaps more accurately, heard but without resonance. Do we have any idea what we’re singing?
For years I’ve wanted to take on a handful of these classics but, with an interminable mudslide of versions out there, I have just as frequently questioned the utility and risk of adding to the din. It wasn’t until a friend of mine encouraged me to explore them through Young Oceans’ more “de-commericalized filter" that it clicked for me. What if we abandoned the melody structure altogether? What if we mixed up and re-ordered the lyrics themselves? Was there a way to reverently re-present these sacred pieces of art?
The resulting exploration has been a wonderfully rewarding one. At least for me, breaking away from the common tunes offered a deeper look into the poetry beneath. Deconstructing those melodies, in some case partially and in others altogether, I found a scaffolding of conceptual depth that absolutely floored me. Admittedly, there is no ‘beating’ those original melodies but perhaps this handful of re-workings might help you hear one or two of these classics anew.
-Eric and Young Oceans (Nov 2018)