I always have to stop myself when I say I like “all kinds of music”. Because, honestly, that just isn’t true, there is really only one kind of music I like. No, not [just] Black Metal, I’m talking about music in a minor key. I mean, I’m a pretty happy guy, but there is something about sad, sad songs that just does it for me. I don’t dislike Vivaldi’s “Spring” and “Fall”, but I far prefer “Summer” and “Winter” (guess which seasons he writes in a minor key). “Satisfaction” is a fine song, but I’d rather listen to “Paint it Black” any day…you get the idea. Basically, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that sting [of soul crushing sorrow and sadness].
This month on Minor Key Monday I revisit one of the classic Christmas carols from the “My 10 Favorite Christmas Carols” post that started Minor Key Monday:
Even though I featured this song (twice!) on my first Minor Key Monday post, I felt like I should, in the spirit of Christmas, post this version as well. First of all, God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen is one of those classic minor key Christmas songs that I always talk about loving. Sure it’s about Jesus (like so many of the good ones are–I’ve discussed before about how Santa=major key), but it’s really got a nice minor key melody.
Though it was inspired by 15th century music, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen was written in the 18th century and is thus relatively new when compared to medieval classics like Personant Hodie. Yet, no matter how popular and contemporary it feels, it’s still one of the good ones. There are of course many versions out there, and the one I have chosen for today’s post is a very early Edison Records records version from 1917. I love how old this sounds. The crackling record, the old fashioned singing, the poor fidelity. Honestly, it sounds like something from out of the past, ravaged by the passage of the years and yet still (for now) retaining some amount of clarity. The best black metal has this quality, and so does this version of God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.
Sometimes the production is key to the sorrow of the most sorrowful songs. This, in my opinion, is one case where that is true. Of course the minor key don’t hurt either.