In Defense of Christmas Music – Pt. 4

Editor’s old comedy buddy DK Hamilton has been fighting the good fight on his facebook page, defending the rare pearls hidden among the dreck that is most Christmas music, and we thought it was too good not to share.

I’m a little ashamed that I heard this masterpiece so late in life. I went to see a dance production of this Suite and was so blown away by the music that as soon as I got home, I made myself a Manhattan, which is notable because I: 1) Don’t drink; 2) Didn’t know how to make a Manhattan; and 3) Didn’t have any ingredients for said Manhattan.

What I’m saying is that Ellington’s Nutcracker has magical properties. If holiday parties ever resume, add his Nutcraker Suite to the playlist. It’s about a half hour in total and I promise you that while it’s playing you will be 30% wittier, more urbane, and desirable to romantic suitors.* You may even find yourself suddenly wearing a smoking jacket.

Does Ellington’s Nutcracker count as the first “remix?” I’m voting yes. Ellington and Billy Strayhorn reimagined Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” infusing it with the blues, jazz, and Harlem swing (this is called the “Reverse-Bublé”).

For a notable example, Ellington and Strayhorn transformed “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” into “Sugar Rum Cherry,” taking a song that is best known for the music bed for Christmastime Lexus commercials into a sultry and noir-ish piece that suggests that Ellington knew the Sugar Plum Fairy before she settled down and got respectable. When you hear the drum intro, you know someone’s in trouble. And it might be you.

So yes, playing this Suite at the office holiday party will let your co-workers know that you are a force to be reckoned with. You will cite the theories of long dead philosophers in casual conversation and it won’t even matter whether you are right or even pronounced their names correctly, because you will exude confidence and sophistication on loan from Sir Duke.

* I’m not sure what your baseline is on these characteristics so you might wish to consult your physician first.

Next: Is this Christmas song the best diss track ever made?

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