The soundtrack album for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the once-reviled 1969 James Bond film that’s enjoyed a critical reappraisal among fans in recent decades, isn’t a Christmas record, true. But the film, which starred George Lazenby — a handsome and hardy but unengaging Australian model with no prior acting experience — in his single appearance as 007, is set at Christmas.
Its soundtrack features some of the best music in the entire 50-year franchise. You’ve got John Barry’s kinetic opening title theme (reprised in Brad Bird‘s The Incredibles, among other places). You’ve got its elegiac love theme, “We Have All the Time in the World,” with lyrics by Hal David, beautifully sung by Louis Armstrong.
And as I discovered only weeks ago, you’ve also got Nina‘s (whose?) “Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown?”
Remember Children of Men, Alfonso Cuaron‘s brilliant dystopian sci-fi movie about a worldwide pandemic of absolute infertility, wherein the youngest person on Earth is 19 years old?
Well, the youngest Christmas song to be promoted the rarefied rank of a standard — Mariah Carey‘s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” — turns 19 this year. If you think Hollywood has a remake problem, take a look at the holiday charts on Billboard or iTunes. Our pop stars still write new Christmas songs, but we’re not embracing them.
In a new essay for Slate, I scratch my chin over when and how the secular seasonal songbook, a living document until a couple a decades ago, came to be locked down tighter than Santa’s workshop.
Posted in Christmas, music
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