The Writer's, artist's & reader's Guild

Christmas Song nr. 20: Rebel Jesus by The Albion Christmas Band

Sometimes the Christmas songs, like number choice 19, can be a social comment. It can make us think about our lost in life, compared to others. Still some might discuss the supposed reason for the season; Jesus Christ. This post is not a discussion regarding the sacredness of the holidays in any way, but merely a comment on the choice of number 20 on our list; Rebel Jesus.

Written by Jackson Browne for The Chieftains Christmas album The Bells of Dublin it is a starch observation from an outside perspective how we have perverted message of Jesus’ birth. All those things Jesus represented, quite a rebellious act at the time, we now have discarded to come full circle. Browne’s lyrics attack how we can celebrate the birth of a man who spoke out against the greed, caring for each other and the commercialization of all things holy, while acting against that message.

In the original release Browne supplies the vocals to The Chieftains very distinct Irish traditional music and I find that the interpretation provided by The Albion Christmas Band relates the lyrics much better. Where The Chieftains tend to lose themselves in their need to cram as much folk music into each tune Albion Christmas Band’s version is a no nonsense version, where the lyrics take center stage.

Originally formed as The Albion Band in 1971 it turned into a seasonal Christmas band in the late eighties. When the original group became defunct the founder, Simon Care, came with the suggestion to some of the other members that they form a permanent seasonal band. While there has been many iterations of The Albion Band the Christmas version is the longest running one. Now a permanent fixture on the Christmas folk scene the band mixes storytelling with traditional yuletide tunes and modern classics.

For the new perspective on Christmas and the reinvention of Browne’s lyrics Rebel Jesus is number 20 on the Christmas List of Songs.

-Andrew Tobias

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