The transatlantic Christmas carol connection

It’s probably save to say that most Americans are not particularily familiar with popular music from Germany — aside from Kraftwerk, Nena, Scorpions, Rammstein, Nina Hagen and the occasional Krautrock band. Once every year that changes, however.

No matter where you go in the U.S. during the month of December, you will likely hear Christmas songs blasting from the speakers. Many of these festive tunes which have become ingrained into our musical DNA since childhood are actually German, or at least come from a German-speaking background. From “Silent Night” to “O Tannenbaum” to “Oh du fröhliche”… lot’s of Germanic Christmas chants.

Now, it might be even saver to assume that most Americans are not very familiar with the way German artists make anglophone Christmas carols their own – with lyrics translated (or, rather, transfered) to German. One of my favorites in this specific sub-genre is the fabulous Götz Alsmann who recorded the album “Winterwunderwelt” a few years ago. You should give it a try.
Here’s his rendition of “Frosty, the snowman” (written by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson, and first recorded by Gene Autry):

Alsmann’s version of “Winter Wonderland” is also quite charming:

Forgive me, if I’m taking a turn to the personal here. This year, my family had the pleasure of celebrating Thanksgiving (arguably the most important U.S. holiday, and of minor relevance to Germans like us) with our best friends who happen to be African-American – what a lovely cross-cultural experience!  I mention this, not to tell you that a white guy from Deutschland has black friends in the U.S., but because I’ve always been attracted to African-American culture – long before I ever set foot on U.S. soil. This is especially true when it comes to “black” music. That’s why, imho, “The Spirit of Christmas” by Ray Charles is one of the best holiday season albums ever recorded.
Need proof? Here ya go:

And then there is the Godfather himself who keeps bringing the funk to the fest:

So let’s hear it from you. What are some of the Christmas favorites in your world?


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