December 8 – Turntable Talk, Round 9 : Temptations At Christmas

Welcome back to Turntable Talk! As this is the ninth instalment, regular readers know what it is. Every month, I have several interesting guest writers sound off on one topic related to the music that we look at here daily. Earlier this year we’ve looked at some topics that sparked lively debates, including if the Beatles were still relevant and people’s takes on how videos changed music. This time around though, in recognition of the calendar we have a simpler topic : Songs of the Season. We’ve just asked the guests to talk about a Christmas/holiday song that they love and why it has meaning to them.

Leading off today is Christian, from Christian’s Music Musings. There he looks at new releases weekly and covers a good number of concerts he attends. And among our guest writers, he offers a bit of a unique viewpoint in having grown up in Germany but now residing in the U.S. And his choice…

Once again, I’m happy to share my thoughts for Turntable Talk – thanks, Dave, for keeping this great feature going and inviting me back.

When I received the notification with the topic, it immediately took me back to my years growing up in Germany. I have fond memories of Christmas, which was a pretty big deal in my family.

For many years, we (my parents, my six-year-older sister and I) drove to Heidelberg to gather at my grandma’s (from my mom’s side) house. My dad picked up his parents, who also lived in Heidelberg, and we all celebrated Christmas Eve (December 24) together.

Every year, my grandma got a Christmas tree – a relatively small but real tree with real candles – nothing like the scent of wax candles! On many occasions, my sister and I got to decorate the tree. While working we listened to my favorite mainstream radio station where they played song requests from listeners. Apart from straight pop songs, there were many, typically modern Christmas songs, such as John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War Is Over), Chuck Berry’s Run Rudolph Run and Wham’s Last Christmas.

Christmas songs weren’t limited to the radio. My grandparents liked to sing traditional Christmas carols on December 24 in the evening before we exchanged Christmas presents. This was preceded by my dad lighting the candles on the Christmas tree and switching off all other lights in the room. It was a festive atmosphere I enjoyed, especially as a small child. I was also full of anticipation about opening presents, which would follow the singing!😊

This brings me to my Christmas song pick. There are many Christmas tunes I like, both traditional carols and modern Christmas songs. For this post, I decided to select a traditional Christmas carol performed by what I think probably is the best vocal group I know: Silent Night by The Temptations.

Composed in 1818 by Austrian church organist and composer Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr, an Austrian Roman Catholic priest and writer, Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht became a popular Christmas carol. It was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818 at St. Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village in the Austrian Empire on the Salzach river in present-day Austria. In 1859, the Episcopal priest John Freeman Young, then serving at Trinity Church, New York City, wrote and published the English translation that is most frequently sung today, translated from three of Mohr’s original six verses.

Silent Night has appeared in various films and television specials. It has also been recorded by numerous artists, such as Nat King Cole, Percy Sledge, Elvis Presley, Mariah Carey and, of course, The Temptations. The mighty-sounding vocal group from Detroit included it on their second Christmas album Give Love At Christmas, released in August 1980.

In addition to being a beautiful song with an outstanding vocal rendition by The Temptations, Silent Night (Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht) has a special meaning to me. It is one of the carols my family and I used to sing each Christmas Eve back in Germany.

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16 thoughts on “December 8 – Turntable Talk, Round 9 : Temptations At Christmas

  1. Badfinger (Max)

    Great post Christian. I think Silent Night is not only one of the best Christmas songs….but one of the best songs period…it’s has a perfect melody and lyrics to it. Great version by the Temptations.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Thanks for leading off Christian, and for the great post. It’s nice to hear about people’s Christmas memories and traditions, and for many of us, music plays a big part of that. ‘Silent Night’ is definitely a beautiful song/hymn and you won’t go wrong with the Temptations voices

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Nicely done Christian! Wow I had not heard that redition by the great Temptations! Just a little FYI, history would agree with your choice and so do a lot of performers, this is the most recorded song of all time as documented by Secondhandsongs.com. If you include the English translation of 1899 covers there are over 5.600 versions.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. The Temps do a grand version of this one. I remember hearing this song (here, on the radio In New Zealand, of all places, about as far from Germany as you can get! And for some reason in the German, ‘O Tannenbaum.’ I was just a wee nipper, and it adds a different feel, a weight to the song, Even if the child that I was didn’t understand the words I’d heard it in English. Still preferred the German.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. The Temptations so such a great job with this song! I played it a lot during the Christmas season when I worked in Detroit. Thanks for sharing some of your personal memories, too.

    Right down the road from me, in Frankenmuth, MI, they have a replica of that chapel! It is truly amazing to see. Here is a quick link to it, and I am sure you can find more about it online. https://www.frankenmuth.org/directory/silent-night-memorial-chapel/

    Liked by 3 people

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