Dec. 2nd, 2011

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Listen here. (On the album, and hence on the mix, this is actually 2 tracks. I'm not sure why they chose to split them up. You're messing with my theme, guys.)

So, happy December 2! Sorry I wasn't able to get this up in the morning. I spent the day at the madhouse that is the One of a Kind show, which was awesome but exhausting, and have only just got back.

Today we have another True Meaning of Christmas song, this time from The Bells of Dublin by the Chieftains and friends. I must admit I'm not really familiar with Jackson Browne's work but the Chieftains always reliably find great collaborators, and the whole album is a worthy addition to anyone's Christmas collection (assuming you like Celtic music, that is).

This is very Occupy Wall Street, though it's 20 years old now. Some things, unfortunately, seem eternal.

Well we guard our world with locks and guns
And we guard our fine possessions
And once a year when Christmas comes
We give to our relations
And perhaps we give a little to the poor
If the generosity should seize us
But if any one of us should interfere
In the business of why they are poor
They get the same as the rebel Jesus

I can't say much about this that hasn't been said by John Nichols at the Nation, back in 2007:

The finest Christmas songs are never just Christmas songs. Though linked by reference of sentiment to the Christmastide, they are sufficiently universal in their themes to have meaning throughout the year. Surely this is why so many of us return with such frequency and glad tiding to Jackson Browne's "The Rebel Jesus," a song he first performed on the brilliant 1991 Chieftains album, "The Bells of Dublin."

Over the ensuing 16 years, the song has become a favorite for celebrants of the season who suspect the Nazarene might be disinclined toward the commercial chaos that has come to characterize its contemporary expression.


Browne knows the song has taken on a life of its own, as all great songs do. Yet, through all the renditions over the years, by its writer and the many fine artists who have covered it, "The Rebel Jesus" remains fresh and renewing. Perhaps that is because Browne's lyrics, world-weary and wry in their observations yet warm in their delivery, offer an ancient antidote to the dispiriting crush of commerce, the tyranny of schedules and the theft of meaning that can crowd the better angels of our nature at Christmas.

There you have it. As a bonus, have a video of Browne's acoustic version:

This blog post by Steve Stockman indicates that the theme was suggested to Browne by a Mayan Indian friend. Um, OK.

Get the full musical Advent calendar here. | What is this?


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