Morning Music: Feliz Navidad

Feliz NavidadToday, we listen to “Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano of the album of the same name. There is something about both the artist and song that makes me think that I should hate them. Yet they are both great. He’s a wonderful musician, but it’s much more than that. He’s got an excellent musical sensibility. He’s able to create really engaging music without pandering. This explains his unique ability to cover songs in a way that is more compelling than the originals. I challenge anyone to find a better version of The Star-Spangled Banner. He’s also quite a good songwriter, although he isn’t focused on it. He did, however, write “Feliz Navidad.”

I just read that back in 2009, a couple of conservatives created a parody of the song called, The Illegal Alien Christmas Song. It’s a funny thing. If I didn’t know where the song came from, I would assume that it was making fun of conservatives. It does an excellent job of distilling what the Tea Party crowd thinks of matters related to immigrants. Of course, it doesn’t help that the parody is not very clever. Perhaps if the writers had been more clever, it would have been clearer just how vile they were.

Anyway, there is a live version of the song, but its sound quality is poor. So here is the album track with lyrics so you can sing along!

11 thoughts on “Morning Music: Feliz Navidad

  1. This was a staple around my house when I was growing up. It almost wasn’t Christmas until this song came on somewhere and of course us kids at school dutifully learned how to sing it off key to the annoyance of all of our parents tired of hearing it.

    • It’s a joyous song. In terms of straight Christmas songs, I think it is likely the best. Now if Feliciano could just write 100 more songs like it, I would be well on my way to Spanish fluency!

      • Where I’ve gone wrong — more than once — is by not loving joyful, fun music enough. And particularly by not realizing how almost all joyful music, wherever it comes from, has undercurrents of pain beneath it.

        Take the Talking Heads. I adore their cheerful, dancing-friendly songs like “Don’t Worry About The Government.” Because I’m a cheerful person? Hell’s bells, no. Because I like optimism in the face of gloom. The Heads are all about modern angst and alienation, so when they let loose and have fun (on the early records), I do too.

        It can almost be argued that no music is entirely cheery. An Auto-Tune piece of dreck garbage aimed at Disney Channel-worshipping adolescents only works because adolescence is really tough, and those kids want something to make them feel better. No kid is really so happy as Hannah Montana — clearly not the star of that show herself.

        When I listen to music which appeals to audiences in a way I’m not familiar with, I tend to skip imagining the sad undercurrents (which are always there, we’re all human.) Instead I judge them on relative darkness. Grim is good, cheeriness is not. (This is aside from whether or not I find the song endearing; I like Mexican music even when I don’t like it, because I simply like Mexican music, and I don’t demand it to be sad.)

        Why expect artists from unfamiliar backgrounds to be all grim, all the time? Because I want to hear grimness in all art. And it is actually always there. (Everyone dies, baby, that’s a fact.)

        All that strange rambletude aside, this song always cheers me up.

        • Sad songs say so much? I prefer songs with a bit of grit. What I don’t like are soulless songs. “Feliz Navidad” has plenty of soul. Its cheerfulness is more aspirational, and even we malcontents can hope for a brighter world…

        • I like that it doesn’t try to tell a story. That’s where a lot of Christmas songs go wrong. And it does have the feel of a line from an old Woody Allen story, “The low trombones signal that soon the food will be gone and we will all die.” But it’s a lovely song.

          • I was referring to “Feliz Navidad” not the abomination that is the NKOTB song. Although both are I suppose.

            • Feliz Navidad is a song I sing all year round. It’s easy to make up different lyrics to it. But it’s nice to hear the original each Christmas.

  2. Feliz is a great xmas song. I like the intensity that Jose sings with. His song “Rain” is one of my favorites. I listened to Jose sing the SSB a song which I despise as a song as it is non-musical. He gave it a dignity which it does not deserve. I can’t believe he goes back to 1968. Where has the time gone?

    • Rain is beautiful song. As for his version of the SSB: it is amazing. It does seem amazing, but he was performing from a young age. He’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

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