Sunday A.M. Radio: Linus and Lucy get ambient

It’s that time of year when “Jingle Bell Rock” is on the airwaves like 24 hours a day. But after hearing that song multiple times in the span of an hour or so, the mood can go from cheery to insanity pretty quickly. Generally, you can avoid Christmas music if you really don’t want to hear it – unless you go into, like, any store from late November to December 24. I don’t mind Christmas music in small doses. Certain songs are better than others, but after awhile the sound of sleigh bells and lyrics stuffed full of cliches about the joy of the holidays kind of lose their magic. But for me, there are a few Christmas songs that never get old. One of the best is Vince Guaraldi’s Peanuts classic “Linus and Lucy.” Many people first became aware of the song from the 1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas, and though there are no lyrics or jingling sleigh bells or anything else outwardly Christmas-y about it, it has remained a holiday favorite. It’s hard not to feel a little nostalgic when you hear that familiar opening bass riff.

Many bands have covered “Linus and Lucy,” but this version is unlike all the others that I’ve heard. Maybe that’s because it’s slowed down by 600 percent. This version takes the well-known song into uncharted territory, turning it into an exercise in ambient music. The melody is basically unrecognizable, and slowing it down admittedly adds a mysterious and kind of eerie vibe to it, but the song still manages to retain its warm glow and actually hits pretty nice peak toward the end. It’s kind of like Linus grew up and traded the comfort of his blanket for about 8 mg of Xanax.

Somehow it works. “Linus and Lucy” is probably the only Christmas song I’d care to hear slowed down 600 percent for 20 minutes. Listening to an slowed-down version “Jingle Bell Rock” would probably cause me to empty the fridge of all the eggnog.

Looking for another ambient Christmas classic? Here’s one from Aphex Twin. What are your favorite alternative holiday song choices? Have a happy holiday season!


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Mike Andrelczyk is a features editor for Fly Magazine. He is a graduate of Penn State University and currently lives with his wife Stacey in Strasburg. Interests include tennis, playing bad guitar, poetry (poems have appeared in Modern Haiku, The Inquisitive Eater and other journals) and oneirology – the study of dreams – mostly in the form of afternoon naps. His name appears in the title screen of Major League 2.

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