Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mark Lanegan - Dark Mark Does Christmas

at the end of 2012, Mark Lanegan released Dark Mark Does Christmas, a collection of Christmas carols available only on his European tour.  but in typical Lanegan fashion, these are not the modern carols that celebrate the materialism or cartoony aspects of the holiday season.  Most of these are powerful and poignant traditional Christian ballads, some of which are hundreds of years old.  the performances here are moody and stark, completely stripped of any ornamentation.

"Cherry Tree Carol" -  this humble ballad dates to the early 1400s and was performed at the Feast of Corpus Christi.  it tells the tale of Joseph and the pregnant Virgin Mary on their way to Bethlehem when they chance upon an orchard of cherry trees.  Joseph comes off as a spiteful ass who quickly realizes the error of his ways.

"Down in Yon Forest" - a British Christmas ballad from the 1500s.  the full, original version of this song weaves medieval British symbolism into the Christmas narrative.

"O Holy Night" -  one of the great Christmas songs, written by the Frenchman Adolphe Adam in 1847.  listen to Lanegan go for those high notes!

"We Three Kings" - another one of the all time great Christmas ballads.  this was written in 1857 by the Reverend John Henry Hopkins Jr.

"Coventry Carol" -  this song, dating to the mid 1500s, is traditionally sung a cappella.  it tells the Biblical story of the Massacre of the Innocents, when King Herod, after being told by the Magi that the new King of the Jews was born and will rise to the throne,  ordered the death of every male under the age of two in Bethlehem.  the haunting lyrics are from the perspective of a mourning mother.  Merry Christmas!

"Burn the Flame" - the album wraps up with a cover of Roky Erickson's song from his 1977 album Don't Slander Me.  It's barely a Christmas tune.

Dark Mark Does Christmas was never formally released, so physical copies are rare.  but it is up in its entirety on Youtube.

 or you can download it HERE 

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