Happy Holidays! Since it’s the first year of my blog, and since it’s the last year for my Annual Holiday Show on my little 20-year-old 80s radio program, STUCK IN THE 80s (on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine), I wanted to present to you THE 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS, or, 31 of my favorite 80s holiday musical treats.
The song for Day 10 of the 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS is another song from the wonderful 1987 benefit Xmas album, A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS, and one of my favorite songs this time of year – “Gabriel’s Message” by Sting.
“Gabriel’s Message” (or “The angel Gabriel from heaven came”) is a Basque Christmas folk carol which dates back to the 18th century about the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary by the archangel Gabriel, and that she would become the mother of Jesus Christ, replete with Biblical accounts of the event.
In 1985, Sting recorded a modern version as the B-side to his controversial hit (and Cold War Classic), “Russians,” which appeared on A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS a couple of years later, and on his holiday-flavored album, IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT… from 2009.
For a MOJO magazine interview in January 2010, Sting explained why he recorded “Gabriel’s Message,” a song about The Nativity despite being an agnostic: “I enjoy reading [authors] Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and I think they’re funny, but attacking the fundamentalist idea of what God is like is as easy as hitting a bull elephant with a shotgun. What I believe in is the human imagination. Religion is a product of that just like literature or music, so to deny religion is to deny part of what it means to be human. I don’t believe for a second that Mary had a baby and stayed a virgin. But it’s a magical story and it has power.”
Well, whether or not you choose to believe the magical story, I have to say for a 2-minute modern take on an multi-century-old Christmas folk carol, Sting’s “Gabriel’s Message” has some power too…