The Twelve Days of Bluegrass Christmas

| December 24, 2013 | 3 Comments

The Twelve Days of Christmas

I'll Meet You In Church Sunday Morning - Bill MonroeA song most people love to hate. It is never picked when church groups go Christmas caroling. Whether it’s because it’s too long or because no one knows all of the words is irrelevant. If it were a person, it would be the fat kid at recess who is reluctantly picked last to play kickball. Other than The Little Drummer Boy, it is the most confusing Christmas song. (ANYTHING makes more sense than plopping some kid in the middle of the nativity and having him beat a drum next to a newborn baby. How is that supposed to inspiring, or Biblically-relevant? It’s the Bible; you can’t just add characters! As Antoine Dodson would say, “That is really, really DUMB!” The only acceptable time to listen to The Little Drummer Boy is if Ray Charles is singing it. Look it up, and you’ll know what I mean.)

Other than some annoying know-it-all who looked up the meaning of The Twelve Days of Christmas so he can impress/tick off his friends, no normal person knows what the song means. Why are they celebrating Christmas for twelve days? Why are they exchanging such abnormal and expensive gifts? I don’t know, and I don’t want to be “that guy.”

Rather than ponder the meaning behind this mysterious Christmas carol, I prefer to watch children’s faces light up and adults grimace when I suggest the carol. I may be bashing it pretty hard, but I’ve always been a fan. Maybe it was the Mickey Mouse Christmas Sing-A-Long VHS tape I had as a kid. It’s amazing how appealing a song can be when life-sized Disney characters are singing along with the bouncing ball. I’m still looking for the Chip & Dale Sing Ralph & Carter Sing-A-Long tape. If you find one, give me a call. Alas, I digress.

Whatever the reason, The Twelve Days of Christmas has always gotten a Phil Robertson-style “thumbs up” from me.

The best (and only) bluegrass version of the song is a killer rendition from the Queen of Bluegrass. Rhonda Vincent closed her quintessential bluegrass Christmas album, Beautiful Star, with an all-star rendition of The Twelve Days of Bluegrass.

However, I feel that the song itself is in need of a bluegrass makeover. If Jeff Foxworthy can do a “redneck” Twelve Days of Christmas, why can’t we do a bluegrass Twelve Days of Christmas? Maybe that’s just what this song needs to give it more mass appeal?

I poured blood, sweet, and tears into this for several minutes, so hopefully, you enjoy my proposition for The Twelve Days of Bluegrass Christmas.

On the first day of Christmas
my true love gave to me
A worn-out Bill Monroe LP

On the second day of Christmas
my true love gave to me
Two Stanley brothers
and a worn-out Bill Monroe LP

On the third day of Christmas
my true love gave to me
Three-part singing
Two Stanley brothers
and a worn-out Bill Monroe LP

On the fourth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me
Four backstage passes
Three-part singing
Two Stanley brothers
and a worn-out Bill Monroe LP

On the fifth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me
Earl’s Five-String Banjo!
Four backstage passes
Three-part singing
Two Stanley brothers
and a worn-out Bill Monroe LP

On the sixth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me
Six white horses
Earl’s Five-String Banjo!
Four backstage passes
Three-part singing
Two Stanley brothers
and a worn-out Bill Monroe LP

On the seventh day of Christmas
my true love gave to me
Seven Martin coonhounds
Six white horses
Earl’s Five-String Banjo!
Four backstage passes
Three-part singing
Two Stanley brothers
and a worn-out Bill Monroe LP

On the eighth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me
Eight more miles to Louisville
Seven Martin coonhounds
Six white horses
Earl’s Five-String Banjo!
Four backstage passes
Three-part singing
Two Stanley brothers
and a worn-out Bill Monroe LP

On the ninth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me
Nine jammers jamming
Eight more miles to Louisville
Seven Martin coonhounds
Six white horses
Earl’s Five-String Banjo!
Four backstage passes
Three-part singing
Two Stanley brothers
and a worn-out Bill Monroe LP

On the tenth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me
Ten degrees and getting colder
Nine jammers jamming
Eight more miles to Louisville
Seven Martin coonhounds
Six white horses
Earl’s Five-String Banjo!
Four backstage passes
Three-part singing
Two Stanley brothers
and a worn-out Bill Monroe LP

On the eleventh day of Christmas
my true love gave to me
Eleven bands a-picking
Ten degrees and getting colder
Nine jammers jamming
Eight more miles to Lousiville
Seven Martin coonhounds
Six white horses
Earl’s Five-String Banjo!
Four backstage passes
Three-part singing
Two Stanley brothers
and a worn-out Bill Monroe LP

On the twelfth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me
Twelve Opry tickets
Eleven bands a-picking
Ten degrees and getting colder
Nine jammers jamming
Eight more miles to Louisville
Seven Martin coonhounds
Six white horses
Earl’s Five-String Banjo!
Four backstage passes
Three-part singing
Two Stanley brothers
and a worn-out Bill Monroe LP!!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Daniel Mullins

Daniel is from southwestern Ohio and has been around bluegrass his entire life. He manages the Classic Country Connection, a music store in southern Ohio which specializes in bluegrass, classic country, gospel, and Americana music. He is the host of the Bending The Strings radio program, which plays a variety of bluegrass, newgrass, and Americana music. He also maintains the website for Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers.
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