This video clip for Christmas Eve is not really a Christmas Carol, even though Silent Night provides the music and backing vocals for this clip. The song is from Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel and is titled Seven O’Clock News/Silent Night and while the music and vocals of that Carol provide the backing, the song itself is quite chilling.
This video was posted to You Tube by K Vannoord
The featured clip for today was performed by Paul Simon and Arthur Garfunkel, and is the last song on their third studio album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme released in October of 1966. I didn’t hear the song until almost three years later.
I was a huge fan of Paul and Art, right from the release of their first huge hit, The Sound Of Silence, released in 1964. While I liked the song, it wasn’t until after I joined the Air Force here in Australia that I became an even bigger fan of theirs. In early 1969, I heard the album this first hit of theirs was taken from, Wednesday Morning 3 AM. This opened me up to more than just their big hit, and I just loved the album. I purchased this album, and a couple of weeks later their second and third albums as well.
I distinctly remember first hearing this song I have featured today. It was the last track on that third album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme. The song just starts out as the Christmas Carol, and then the spoken word vocal comes in, softly at first, and then it gets louder as the carol starts to fade. The effect was almost chilling, contrasting the one against the other. As soon as the song finished, I immediately played it over again, and with each playing, the news stories started to become more evident. This wasn’t really an easy task, as I had to play it again on a record player, long before pause and rewind.
Arthur is at the piano, and Paul is singing, and the harmonies were what you expected from this wonderful duo, but just as the carol starts to lull you off, in comes the spoken word vocal of the news bulletin.
The news bulletin was composed for the album from actual news stories that were taken from one specific day, 6th August 1966, and keep in mind this had to be done this early, as the album was released in October of that same year, so it had to be that time, rather than later, around Christmas time.
The text for the news stories was written and then performed in the same style as would have been presented by an actual News Reader during one of the short news breaks at the top of each hour on radio. For the news reading part, a disk jockey and later TV game show host, Charlie O’Donnell was asked to read the news bulletin. O’Donnell was himself once a News Anchor, both on radio and TV. Because of that background, he gave the spoken word news bulletin that feel of an actual bulletin.
The effect chills you as you listen. This was the first time I had heard the song, almost three years after the initial recording and the actual news events, but even here in Australia, I knew of all these events, and there’s only 6 small reports. This was at the height of the Vietnam War, when feelings were running high, so this report gives an account of some of the important events of 1966, and the Vietnam War was a big part of that.
This is a wonderful song, rarely heard, but once any listener hears it, it’s not easily forgotten.
While not really a Christmas Carol in the true sense of the word, it does indeed indicate irony. The Peace of the carol blended with the reality of life.