More questions. More help. Introducing Mastering Table Topics Second Edition.

6. Joy to the World

During December, I’m posting my Top 10 favorite holiday songs. Each song has a special story or meaning behind it for me. What stories or meanings do you have for your favorite holiday songs?

My next Top 10 favorite holiday song is “Joy to the World.”

No, not that one. This one.

Why would I choose the Three Dog Night version over the Christmas one?

I was in fifth grade when I learned both versions of the song. I learned the Christmas one in the school choir. As for the Three Dog Night one, I first heard it in a restaurant.

When things were going well for my dad in his escrow job, he would take our family to dinner. We went to Rococo’s Restaurant next to his office on Ventura Boulevard in Woodland Hills. This was the first time I had been to a fancy restaurant. My brother and I had to dress nicely and get an hour lecture about how we should behave at a restaurant. The dining room was paneled in dark woods, and the booths had plush red leather seating. I was disappointed that the menu didn’t have my go-to meal of a hamburger, French fries, and a Coke. However, I learned to appreciate London broil and a Shirley Temple, which is ginger ale with a cherry floating on top. I felt grownup and sophisticated.

One night, the man at the piano bar was singing the Three Dog Night version of “Joy to the World.” He sung about Jeremiah and all that, and then ended the song with the chorus of the Christmas “Joy to the World.” It sounds seventies cheesy to me today, but as an 11-year-old, I liked it. I enjoyed hearing a song I knew mixed with something contemporary.

When I studied guitar in high school, the Three Dog Night version of “Joy to the World” was one of the songs I learned. I could still see my left hand shift as I went through the chord progression.

Now, I’m the one who takes the family out to nice dinners, but none of the places we go to have piano bars. Still, when I hear the Three Dog Night version of “Joy to the World,” I think back to a time when I felt grownup, sophisticated, and cool.