This weekend officially launches the holiday season, and in keeping with that, I thought would be good to incorporate some holiday-themed music into our weekly rewinds going into the end of the year. The video below is one of the most famous by a band that has become forever associated with Christmas—the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
First formed in 1994 by rock producer Paul O’Neill and members of the progressive metal band Savatage, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra was not intended to be solely a Christmas-themed act, but their music (a combination of classical, symphonic rock and metal) so resonated with people that their annual holiday tours have become a staple of the season. The song below was first released in 1996 with the band’s debut album, a rock opera called Christmas Eve and Other Stories, the first installment of a three-rock-opera Christmas trilogy. The instrumental, a blending of the carols “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Carol Of the Bells,” tells the story of a cellist playing a Christmas carol in war-ridden Bosnia, and was intended to be heard in context with the rest of the album (as most rock operas are). Today, however, you can scarcely get through the season without hearing the song multiple times on holiday radio playlists—right up there with “It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas” and about seven different renditions of “Santa Baby”—and few people think of it in its original context.
The classic rock/metal/orchestral hybrid sound of “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo” might sound a bit cheesy to some these days, but I still find it compelling and inspiring. I love the screeching guitar work at the end. I can envision Jack Black rocking out to this piece.