Saturday, May 10, 2008

Christmas Has Changed Since the Early 1900's

Christmas is so commercial nowadays and we also get bombarded by the media starting around Halloween about what to buy, buy, buy for Christmas. But I can remember when Christmas advertisement, shopping, singing, etc. all started around the first of December, not even as soon as Thanksgiving. Guess I'm just an oldie (but Goodie?), but I am not in the Christmas shopping mood until December. By then it is difficult to work all the hustle and bustle into my schedule. So my Christmas shopping has gotten more and more internet-connected in the last few years. I love not having to get hit in the parking lot, wait in long check-out lines, maneuver around shopping carts and shoppers. But I do miss the Christmas decorations that dominate at the malls. So I still do a little of my shopping in "real" stores and malls.

We all know that Christmas has not always been like this. At the beginning of the 1900's, Christmas was much more family- and religion-oriented. You can take a nostalgic trip, or fantasy trip if you are not old enough for nostalgia, back to that time with the Antique Christmas Music links below.

In "Old Jim's Christmas Hymn" from 1910, the hymn that Old Jim traditionally sings, when he is not too sauced to sing apparently, is not a Christmas song at all. It is a hymn, "Rock of Ages", that is still popular. This is supposed to be a tear-jerker, I think. So get your hankies out.

In "Christmas Morning at Flannagan's", you will hear what a typical Irish Christmas (supposedly) sounded like. You might have to listen closely, as this is from a cylinder that was very noisy when I downloaded it. It cleaned up well, but is still a little fuzzy, as many of the cylinder recordings are that I am offering.

One of my favorites of the old-time Christmas spirit genre is "Flanagan's New Year's Call" from 1909. The woman he calls on, Mrs. Riley, is a TRIP! Of course, he is not much better. His son is out of jail now because he got a year off for good behavior. "Oh, it must be a great comfort to have such a well-behaved boy," says Mrs. Riley. And Mrs. Riley forgot to offer a drop to drink to Mr. Flanagan before he left. So naturally she decides she will drink it for him! Lots of other comical lines in this recording! In its original form from my download, I could hardly understand anything that was spoken. This one cleaned up well. Enjoy it!

You know, Santa Claus wasn't always quite the way we think of him nowadays. He has evolved from a much less important figure in past Christmases. But he has always been the most beloved of children. In Gilbert Girard's "Santa Claus Talks About His Toy Shop", you get to hear the funniest sound effects. You could do all of these yourself, for free! I guess they didn't expect to make much money from the sales to pay for even slightly expensive sound effects. I love the pig sounds. I have heard a few pigs in my lifetime, and I am pretty sure that none of them sounded like that!

In the companion song, "Santa Claus Gives Away His Toys", you will notice that the way that the recording simulates Santa approaching is by making "Hello" louder and louder as if he were getting nearer. It works, since I understood that was what was happening. You will also hear what types of gifts children recieved for Christmas back in 1918. Not the big expensive, and expansive, list of toys of today.

As I was cleaning up the sound on these recordings, the hardest thing to correct was taking noise out of a section that had jingle bells playing. I would remove noise and the jingle bells would either disappear or distort. It took a lot of finagling to get the correct sound. But they came out very well, on these particularly.

From the Canadian Historical Sound Recordings - The Virtual Gramophone, I got "The Sleep of the Baby Jesus". I don't understand even a word of French, but the little girl singing this one, Jean D'Arc Charlebois, is just so charming that I don't need to understand the words to enjoy it. Maybe someone can tell me what she is saying. That would be interesting.

Tommy and Molly were awoken on Christmas Eve by Santa's visit. Tommy accidentally hollered when he saw that it was Santy Claus there. But Santy was nice about it, and granted them their wishes for their favorite toys. This is one of the recordings that had the worst noise over the jingle bells. I had to delete that section and copy in another jingle bell snippet. It worked pretty well, I think.

Hope you enjoy all of today's Antique Christmas Songs downloads. Here are the links for Revitalized Antique Christmas Songs #3.

ernest hare - Santa Claus Greetings 1924.mp3
Gilbert Girard - Santa Claus Gives Away His Toys 1918.mp3
Gilbert Girard - Santa Claus Talks About His Toy Shop 1918.mp3
Harry Anthony and James F. Harrison - Old Jim's Christmas Hymn 1910.mp3
Harry Macdonough - Winter - 1916.mp3
Henry Burr - The Star Of Bethlehem - 1904.mp3
Jeanne D'Arc Charlesbois - The Sleep of the Baby Jesus 1929.mp3
Manuel Romain - Christmas Time Seems Years And Years Away - 1909.mp3
Prince's Band - Auld Lang Syne 1914.mp3
Steve Porter - Christmas Morning At Flannigan's 1906.mp3
Steve Porter - Flanagan's New Year's Call 1909.mp3
Walt Bingham And His Orchestra - Im Going Home For Christmas.mp3

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