tremble clef

Friday, December 23, 2005

Marvin Gaye, "I Want To Come Home For Christmas" (1972)

"I'd give anything to see/A little Christmas tree/And to hear, hear the laughter of children playing in the snow/To kiss my baby under the mistletoe."

Marvin's narrator, it is quickly apparent, is indisposed for Christmas. But not held back by anything as mundane as, say, holiday traffic: "But I can't promise my eyes this sight/Unless they stop the fight." Sung from the point of a view of a "prisoner of war," Marvin's Christmas song has a kind of guttural anguish. Even if you don't listen to the lyric closely, it would be hard not to appreciate how the chorus takes what seems like simple, universal, child-like sentiments -- "I want to see snowflakes fall/I want to see Santa Claus" -- and transforms them into the almost primal howls of an unwilling soldier.

At the two minute mark, the tune comes to an almost complete stop, and then restarts with a much jollier air -- sleigh bells, a jaunty tempo, a spoken bit -- before we return to another round of the heartfelt chorus. Is this a temporary uplift in hope? An optimistic belief that he will indeed be free by Christmas? A war-wrought hallucination of better times?

If I had a music blog this time last year, I would have posted this song. That I can still do so now is sad.


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