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View Diary: Christmas in the trenches: A true story (28 comments)

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  •  Thanks for posting. I love this song. (4+ / 0-)

    John McCutcheon is a native of Wausau, Wisconsin, and every year he does at least one charity performance at the Grand Theater, the main venue in the city.

    I first heard this song, oh, it must be 15 years ago now.  Back before Christmas music on the radio became every bit as homogenized and playlist-restricted as every other kind of music radio, the local station that changed its format to holiday music two weeks before Christmas played "Christmas in the Trenches" semi-regularly.  The first time I heard it, I can't remember if I was in my car or sitting at home, but I was transfixed.  It turns out that I already had it in my vast Christmas music collection and didn't know it - the song appears on one of the most eclectic Christmas compilation CDs ever issued, Must Be Santa! The Rounder Christmas Album.

    I don't remember if it was the same year, or perhaps a year later, but I met a radio DJ in a chat room.  She was stuck having to do a Christmas Day shift, and thus she had to play Christmas music. She wanted alternatives to the same ol' same ol', so I made her a 90-minute cassette of different, but radio-friendly, Christmas songs.  One of them I included was "Christmas in the Trenches."  She admitted later that when she first heard it, she bawled like a baby.  She ended up playing that song, and many others from my tape, during her shift that day.  Even after cassettes were replaced by CDs, I made Christmas music "mixtapes" for her until we lost touch several years ago.

    Every year, I have to hear "Christmas in the Trenches" at least once. I now have it as part of an assortment of Christmas music I've burned to my hard drive from CDs or vinyl. Alas, I don't think I've heard it on the radio in almost 10 years.

    In 1997, 13 years after McCutcheon's song was introduced, Garth Brooks co-wrote and recorded a song called "Belleau Wood," which isn't where the Christmas Truce took place, but whatever; it tells the same story, but nowhere near as eloquently.  It appears on his Sevens album.

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