A few years ago I was cruising iTunes looking for a few Christmas hymns and carols, simply done, without a lot of swoops, slides and embellishing. Yes, Sarah MacLachlan sings like an angel, but this is not the What Child Is This I was looking for. And if you want to know what else I think of as swoopy, slidey and embellished, try Jessica Simpson or Vanessa Williams or Andrea Bocelli & Mary J Blige. There is a place for that, but it was not what I wanted. [By the way, Andrea and Mary J did end up in my collection. I have trouble saying “no” to passion, and boy did they bring passion to the song.]
The version I found that fulfilled my needs shocked me, though in retrospect it shouldn’t have. Is it perfect? No, but it’s simple and unembellished and just what I was looking for. The Moody Blues? The Moody Blues. Okay, they were always rather different as rock bands went, but it did catch me off guard. And it shouldn’t have, because from what I can tell, half of them were choirboys.
Speaking of choirboys…
Imagine, Keith Richards!
Did he remember being a choirboy? He [Keith Richards] bridles with pride. “Albert Hall, Festival Hall and once at Westminster Abbey singing in front of the Queen. Frankly, my career’s gone downhill ever since.”
[My apologies for a rather un-holidayish image, but without it, you don’t have the full impact, now, do you?]
Mick Jagger, too. Yes. Really.
So many English rockers started out as choirboys, and as a child who sang in choirs, I can attest that there is a beauty in being surrounded by so much music–inside, out and around–that is sheer magic. It’s transformational. I can’t imagine being raised in Anglican churches with their profound belief in music as worship and the atmosphere in churches and cathedrals up to 1,000 years old.
Next time you hear this, see this, think of Keith Richards.
And with that I leave you with a stunning piece by that Irish Anglican, Sting.