Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Musical Advent Calendar

"Maybe This Christmas" /
Ron Sexsmith

Instead of a glitter-spangled scene with doors for every day of December, how about a daily treat from my iTunes holiday playlist?

Canadian troubadour Ron Sexsmith does earnest very well, probably because it's genuine. (At least that's what I want to believe, based on meeting him once for five minutes after a show. If you know different, don't spoil it for me.)  Christmas songs are a natural fit for him.  I also dig his jazzy "Hooves on The Roof," sung by Nick Lowe on his 2013 Quality Street.  But with the holiday fast approaching, I have to vote instead for this folky gem, the title track of the 2002 Maybe This Christmas charity album for Toys for Tots.

With just a little jangle laid down behind his acoustic guitar, Ron tentatively proposes "Maybe this Christmas will mean something more / Maybe this year / Love will appear / Deeper than ever before."  He's asking gently -- wishing rather -- in hopeful, upward skipping intervals. 

And no, he's not just talking about the falling-in-love kind of love. There are plenty of other cheesy pop songs out there asking for that. What Ron's after is something rarer: "And maybe forgiveness will ask us to call /  Someone we love, / Someone we've lost / For reasons we can't quite recall."  Those dim urgings of human kindness -- that's what he's holding out for, and the steady thrumming beat tells us he's not giving up until he gets it.

Not that he isn't a realist. Wistful "maybes" pile up in the bridge:  "Maybe there'll be an open door / Maybe the star that shined before /  Will shine once more, oh."  But miracles can happen, and while he's not hammering too hard on that reference to the open stable door in Bethlehem and its star shining above, it's clearly there.

In the last verse he draws the religious message even closer: "And maybe this Christmas will find us at last / In Heavenly peace, / Grateful at least  / For the love we've been shown in the past." It's gentle theology -- take it or leave it -- but so sweetly done.

Even if you don't believe in Jesus, you have to admit, our world would be a better place if this kind of love could get some traction. Isn't Christmas as good a time as any for a reboot? 

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