Christmas Countdown 2009: No. 21. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Barenaked Ladies (Featuring Sarah McLachlan)

sara and bnl

When this song was released in 1997 and first played on the radio, I knew immediately that it was Sarah McLachlan singing with the Barenaked Ladies. Two great artists had come together for this rather spontaneous taping of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and the 1990s instantly had a contemporary classic to call all their own.

It’s hard to believe that it was over 12 years ago that they released this song. Back then (gosh that sounds weird), iTunes still had another 4 years to go before Apple would make music downloads an every day (hour?) occurrence. Copies of this song were hard to come by, and you were lucky if you were able to catch it on the radio (again–back then, there was no Sirius XM, no stations dedicated fully to Christmas music like we have now); you had to flip around to different stations and try to catch it being played between 45 minutes of regular Top 40 songs.

This song became our Charlie Brown Christmas of the 70s and 80s TV world (even CBC wasn’t released on video until the early 1990s); we were lucky to catch it when it played once or twice, it seemed, during the holiday season.  Of course, when it did play, nobody was allowed to talk for those 3 1/2 minutes. And when it was over, you did everything you could to keep Sarah McLachlan’s silky voice in your head as long as possible.

Sarah McLachlan was just coming into her prime with Lilith Fair, which ran from 1997 to 1999 and featured many local, regional, national, and international female artists, including Tracy Chapman, Joan Osborne, Holly Cole, Madeline Peyroux, Emmylou Harris, The Indigo Girls, Lisa Loeb, Shawn Colvin, Paula Cole, among others. For me, this was beyond heaven. And then, to have her record a classic like Ye Merry Gentlemen, well, that was just too much to ask for.

One more note about Lilith Fair: McLachlan is reviving the tour for 2010, and she is seeking out local and regional groups to play when she comes to local towns. Go HERE to get more information about Lilith 2010 AND to download a free mp3 of McLachlan and Emmylou Harris singing Angel.

In 2006, McLachlan cut a Christmas Album titled Wintersong. She’s not done on this list, yet. Look for her to show up one more time later in the countdown.

For me, I’ll always hold on to the memories of what it was like to still have to wait for songs to be played on the radio to enjoy. Those born in the early 1990s will never know what that was like, to have the necessary patience and wait for things that you loved. Now, nearly everything is available instantly, and we, as parents, are finding it an emerging priority to teach patience to our children, a skill that was, for the most part, self-taught all those years ago.

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2 thoughts on “Christmas Countdown 2009: No. 21. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Barenaked Ladies (Featuring Sarah McLachlan)

  1. 🙂 Oh Rus, too funny! Not that Sarah is on here(love her soulful, saultry voice)or because I was hoping to see something from Wintersong, and you have eluded that she will be on the list at a later date, but because of patience. Patience to sit and wait to hear a favorite song on the radio. When I read that, first thing that came to mind? Sitting in my room on Sunday mornings, radio on 92. WLPL, waiting with a large rectangular box called a cassette tape recorder, for Casey Kassems America’s Top 40 countdown. Patiently sitting for hours, just waiting to hit the record button when your favorite songs came on. Hoping no one would talk prior to the first cord of the song and praying that no one interupted you during “recording”. Ahhh what memories. What our children actually miss learning by NOT having a few of the covenient things of today. They will never know patience like I did thanks to YouTube, iTunes, and the countless other sites that give them what they want in a matter of seconds!

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