#117 – “O Tannenbaum” (1993)

O Tannenbaum 7"

L.K.: God, my iPod loves having this come up on shuffle.

A.S.: Really? I guess your iPod wants every day to be Christmas for you.
L.K.: Oh yeah, or at least it did until I had to erase all the music from it. It isn’t even a particularly good version of this song though, although it is in fractured phonetic German, which I guess John Linnell deserves some credit for attempting.
A.S.: I love this version! It’s so damn warm!
L.K.: All I can say is that it certainly does sound like it was recorded in a gymnasium.
A.S.: I like that, it sounds like that gymnasium could be in your own home.  It’s a very intimate recording.
L.K.: Whoa, the Young Fresh Fellows opened for them at the venue they recorded this at! That’s totally unrelated to the song, but it’s pretty cool to see them opening for TMBG two years after they were namechecked in a song.
A.S.: We’ve discussed the mutual love YFF and TMBG have for each other, which is always nice to see. And here are playing together, in a high school gymnasium, nonetheless…
L.K.: Yeah, what a weird place for a show.
A.S.: Then again, Wilco played at Lakewood High over here in 2007, so I guess it’s not too weird.
L.K.: I was just going to mention that! I guess it depends on how big your high school is, and how appropriate it is as a venue for a rock show.
A.S.: My high school would have blown for anything like that.  Our auditorium sounded shitty enough for my high school band concerts as it was (although apparently the auditorium recently got a makeover, thank god).
L.K.: I mean, my high school’s auditorium is the home of the Canton SymphonyDoc Severinsin once warmed up in the band room’s bathroom.
A.S.: Whoa, I don’t think I knew that.
L.K.: True story. No idea what year it was though. But yeah, back to the song.
A.S.: Oh, one more thing tangentially related to the song’s recording. I don’t think we’ve mentioned yet that “Don’t Tread on the Cut-Up Snake” is the greatest name for a tour.
L.K.: Greatest official name for a tour, although I think Flans had some joking names for tours in the early days that were stranger.
A.S.: I wish they still did that. Well, I guess the Beardo tour wasn’t that long ago.
A.S.: Oh yeah, that was a good one, if that had actually really been the tour’s name.
L.K.: “We’re thinking about the Wait I Forgot My Jacket tour, but we’re not sure.”
A.S.: Anyway, I still love this version of this song. The brushes on the drums, the gorgeous baritone saxophone counterpoint, Linnell singing as warmly as he can given the language barrier…
L.K.: Is it just me or have they chopped a couple measures out of the song somewhere though? I swear I remember “O Tannenbaum”/”O Christmas Tree” as having somewhat longer choruses.
A.S.: Maybe, I’m not sure? I get a Vince Guaraldi feel from this recording too.
L.K.: Well, there is a version of said song on the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack… Needs a bit more minimalist piano going on to remind me of it, though.
A.S.: Oh true.  Yeah, if Vince Guaraldi played bari sax instead of piano. Okay, listening to that version now, it is way jazzier and peppier, so I’m pretty off on that analysis, but they do both achieve the same sort of warmth.
L.K.: I guess I’m just being harsh because I don’t like Xmas music in general, and this is not one of the few songs I like. Also because my iPod kept subjecting me to it on my hourlong drives to the city and back.
A.S.: Yeah, as I think we’ve discussed before, I’m a-okay with Christmas music.
L.K.: Apple should really do something about their shuffle feature. It is pretty damn non-random.
A.S.: As we’re finding out in doing this blog… Ah well, Merry Christmas everyone. Hope you’re all having a wonderful Christmas Day.
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Comments
2 Responses to “#117 – “O Tannenbaum” (1993)”
  1. Nathan says:

    I think that most of the time, the first line (“O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine Blaetter?”) is sung twice, while Linnell only sings it once. That’s probably why it sounds like they cut out a few measures.

  2. Crazy addendum to this post – talking with a friend of mine from the radio station L.K. and I volunteer at, it turns out that the same high school auditorium that hosted Wilco that we mention in this post has also hosted Morrissey, and a bill featuring (allegedly) Teenage Fanclub AND Radiohead. This was all in the early-mid-1990s, which would line up with TMBG and YFF playing a high school gymnasium on the same bill around the same time.
    – A.S.

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