It has long been tradition in our family to listen to A Christmas Together, by John Denver and the Muppets, around this time of year. First on vinyl, later on tape, more recently on CD. The album is so ingrained in my psyche that John Denver’s voice has become fairly synonymous (or harmonious?) with Christmas for me.
Looking back over my life with the album, I find it interesting — not surprising, but interesting nonetheless — to observe how my favorite song on the album has changed.
In my very distant toddlerhood I recall “Twelve Days of Christmas” being my favorite. I suspect this was largely because I enjoyed singing the “Five Golden Rings” part with Miss Piggy … especially when she gets into it towards the end.
Later on, “Little Saint Nick” was my favorite. A good song, for sure, made perfect by Animal’s off-beat, um, “singing” in the background: “Run, reindeer, run, run, run!”
Around high school and undergraduate days, I was partial to “Noel: Christmas Eve, 1913,” which is a very beautiful poem by Robert Bridges (who, incidentally, was instrumental in bringing the work of one of my favorite poets, Gerard Manley Hopkins, to light) put to song. It’s probably one of the better (if little known) Christmas songs. I offer it here via one of those slideshow things that folks with far too much time on their hands put up on YouTube:
Nowadays, I think my favorite track on the album might be “When the River Meets the Sea.” It’s not a Christmas song per se, but its presence on this album has entirely locked it into the Holiday spirit for me. As a bit of extra awesomeness, it was apparently one of Jim Henson’s favorite songs, too. Here’s muppeteer Jerry Nelson (who sang it with John Denver on the album as Emmet Otter) singing it with Louise Gold at Jim’s funeral. I suggest you have a tissues handy: