Wednesday, December 4, 2013

That Tree in Rockefeller Center

Tonight I watched the annual lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center and realized that there are several times a year when we reach a benchmark, a crack in time that reminds us to step back and compare where we were a year or two ago.
I've seen this before. In fact, many years. I always seems to find this Wednesday with nothing really pressing to do that I can’t kick back and enjoy the two hours that lead to the magic moment when the tree comes dazzlingly alive with a flip of the switch.

Every year there is a succession of new and  old performers who alternate between getting saddled with an old saw carol that they have to get through or a beautiful tune that performers would fight to perform only to blow them up with personalized quirky renditions.
Tonight I was actually laughing out loud when  one young performer absolutely torched a favorite. That’s when I realized that this happens every year just to a different song. In this instance, the offense was especially egregious. In her own mind she was marking her territory by putting a personal stamp on a song and she probably thought it was a pretty cool effect.
Here is a factoid - her personal entourage would probably be committing personal career suicide if they ever let her know honestly that they agreed with me - over the years, the song they torched, was sung by a number of skilled and talented (there’s a difference between those two) performers and her 2013 rendition, when placed beside those efforts would compare as ridiculous. Descriptions that come to mind - forced, sophomoric, and maybe silly, pretentious, just to name a few. I wonder, all things being equal, had they been appraised or warned, would they go out and screech that song, that way, again?
I am being tapped on the shoulder and reminded that these might just be the thoughts of a developing curmudgeon. That guy. The one with the cane, threatening the kids who just broke his window with a baseball.
Another part of me realizes that this is just the passage of time. Next year, someone will mangle a different Christmas classic and it’ll be a rising pop star who decides to dive off the deep musical end. It’ll be that time of year and I’ll get a new serving of Christmas tradition lite.
The saving grace of all this is the actual moment when the button is pushed and the tree jumps with light. Any musical transgressions are forgotten. Everyone stares up at the tree in wonder at such a transformation. It’s official: the New York Christmas season is well underway. Sure Santa Claus closes the Macy’s Day parade but nothing happens until that tree gets set ablaze.

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