It's the time of year when you leave work and it's pitch black outside. The chilly air abounds. You look forward to curling up at home with a mug of something. Sweaters. Fire. Christmas trees. Time with loved ones or family. Maybe both.
We did not have many traditions in my family growing up. Of the rare gems of pleasant memories from my childhood and the holidays, I've always savored one thing: The Clancy Brothers "Christmas" album.
The Clancy Brothers are musical legends. Look at those guys. They know how to enjoy life, hell, they look like they're enjoying it 24/7. Right NOW. While the photo is being taken.
You know hanging out with these guys for Christmas is going to leave you needing a follow-up vacation, and likely some sort of hangover cure. Maybe even a black eye. But it will be the best Christmas you ever had.
The music is incredible. These guys play Christmas songs with a fury and joy unmatched by most rock bands. The Pogues sound like Air Supply compared to the might of the Brothers Clancy. You'll hear hearty singing, whoops of joy, howls, and powerful folk strumming. I imagine this is what Nick Cave has been trying to emulate for years.
They have a tender side to be sure, but you'll likely remember the rocking tunes the most, the glee in their voices as they talk about drinking whiskey from tumblers, describing the feast, and remind us all to enjoy ourselves because "Christmas comes but once a year!"
The liner notes even include a recipe for plum pudding, complete with instructions for how much the chef should be drinking while preparing it. Of course, it's out of print and not available on digital services, but you may be able to find it somewhere.
But sadly, an era has ended. Liam Clancy passed away, the last of the surviving Clancy Brothers. I will raise a tumbler of the good stuff for him this holiday season, and when I fire up my prized copy of The Clancy Brothers Christmas, it will sound a little more bittersweet.
Oh, all the comrades e'er I had,
They're sorry for my going away,
And all the sweethearts e'er I had,
They'd wish me one more day to stay,
But since it falls unto my lot,
That I should go and you should not,
I gently rise and softly call,
Good night and joy be with you all.
[Thanks to MetaFilter for the tip and the quote]