Holiday tips from the Indiana University School of Music
NOTE: This tipsheet is one of several holiday-related features being published by IU Media Relations over the next few days.
All I want for Christmas is…to rock! That's why, when it comes to rating holiday music, including rock 'n' roll's many gifts to the genre, "any sense of aesthetic judgment seems to go out the window," said Glenn Gass, professor at the Indiana University School of Music and author of the first for-credit course at any music school or conservatory on the history of rock 'n' roll. Except for "truly awful, annoying things" (he lists All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth among the prime offenders), Gass finds that holiday music is like "Muzak, a happy nostalgic mood. I think the rock settings that work best capture that and have become classics," he said. On the top of Gass' holiday chart? Elvis Presley's Blue Christmas, standards such as Jingle Bell Rock and Merry Christmas Baby, the Beach Boys' Christmas catalogue and the soulful holiday songs from Motown. Those songs "keep the focus on the song and not so much on the singer, and fit right in with the classics from other eras, while doing no harm to the artist's image or integrity," Gass said. Some rockers, notably the Rolling Stones, reportedly were worried about losing their dignity by recording holiday music, but Gass notes that even the most grinch-like artists have been known to be moved by the holiday spirit. Don't believe it? Check out Keith Richards' 1978 cover of Chuck Berry's Run, Run Rudolph. Gass can be reached at 812-855-9460 (office) or gass [at] indiana [dot] edu (email@example.com) .