From The Side of the Road… happy turkey day!

This being the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, you would naturally be expecting a Thanksgiving-y column, perhaps a list of bluegrass things to be thankful for, e.g. “I’m thankful for my Blue Chip TPR 45,” or “I’m thankful for Jimmy Martin’s lead singing on On and On“. Or I could have issued the usual Thanksgiving warnings: don’t drink and drive, don’t eat too much turkey and drive, avoid driving altogether, don’t talk politics with your uncle Larry, etc.

That’s all well and good, and I do wish everyone a happy holiday weekend, but I’m in Alberta right now, where Thanksgiving was last month and there isn’t a holiday of significance between now and Christmas (not counting Acadian Remembrance Day in New Brunswick on December 13). There’s also nine feet of snow on the ground. I’m completely ready to get in the Christmas spirit. With that spirit, of course, comes Christmas music, and I’ve already started listening to Larry Sparks’ Christmas in the Hills, I don’t mind admitting.

Some, even in Canada, consider it too early for that, but I don’t care (if that isn’t too much of a selfish, Scrooge-like sentiment). Isn’t it really up to the individual, anyway? I’m maybe not thrilled with a band’s choice to play Wagon Wheel, but I recognize their right to do it. If it really bothers me, I know I always have the option to put my fingers in my ears and sing Wake Me Up Before You Go Go by Wham (harsh medicine, but the one scientifically proven antidote to songs you need to replace in your brain).

Perhaps you could complain about Christmas music playing over shopping mall PA systems too early, but then you’d also have to complain about the consistently dreadful music played over those same speakers all the rest of the year (see Wham song above).

It’s no surprise, I’m sure, having mentioned that I’m listening to Larry Sparks’ Christmas album already, that I’m a fan of bluegrass Christmas music. In our genre we have two types of Christmas songs: 1: Christmas Time’s a Coming and 2: Songs that aren’t Christmas Time’s a Coming. I like both. Perhaps I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas-izing traditional bluegrass songs. You know, the ones with lyrics like “On and On I’ll follow that star,” or “in our little manger home on the hill,” etc., but I like to have a forgiving spirit about this sort of thing, especially right before we gather around a table to give thanks and avoid arguments.

I also take comfort in the fact that I’m not alone in listening to bluegrass Christmas music before Thanksgiving. In fact, one year Balsam Range released their new Christmas album, It’s Christmas Time on the very day I was carving a pumpkin in late October. I would never criticize them for that timing, even if we weren’t on the same record label. In fact, I applaud it. That album was the very thing I needed to get over my candy corn-induced hangover on November 1.

So enjoy your Thanksgiving, but allow me to get a jump start on Christmas, just before I go out and rake snow off the roof. I know some will not agree with this sentiment, and I’m perfectly okay with that. Just bear in mind that you’ll be haunted by three spirits. Expect the first tonight when the bell tolls one.