December 24TH is a song by a unique song stylist, Julia Fordham. Her music typically dances on the line between jazz and pop. It is accompanied by a specific type of mood that can be laid back, accepting, sad or reserved happiness and only occasionally unbounded joy. Since I love moody music it fits right in with my melancholic state of mind.
There is a “hard truth” in this song that is so important – things don’t always turn out the way we planned and you “don’t always get back what you give.” It’s a different way of stating the golden rule of “Do unto other as you want them to do unto you” (not that they will return the favor).
Changing things up a .it. The Beach Boys, an American treasure with their sunny California sound and disposition. Their Christmas album is just plain fun. It boasted 5 Beach Boy holiday originals in addition to some fun arrangements of the standards.
Enjoy 3 of the originals LITTLE SAINT NICK, THE MAN WITH ALL THE TOYS and MERRY CHRISTMAS BABY.
I was born at the wrong time. Why? I’ve always loved the las vegas night club scene of the 50s and 60’s. Of course the “Rat Pack” ruled supreme. An early fantasy in my teens was to be a night club singer like Sammy Davis Jr, Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra. But that was the late 70’s and the scene was passing and disco ruled the airwaves. Television was the last stand for many in the Rat Pack, with members appearing or making guest appearance on TV shows, movies etc. Dean Martin even had his on Variety Show. Oh well, dem’s the way the chips fall.
At any rate you can enjoy this duet between Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra from Dean’s television variety show.
Robbie Williams is a musical artist I’ve enjoyed. He has a unique pop style. This original Christmas song fits right in. I like the sentiment of the title TIME FOR CHANGE. I really wish more people saw that holidays with that potential to make a change, stop the hate, stop the lies and work to bring people together. But sadly that will be a dream unfulfilled.
His Christmas album, THE CHRISTMAS PRESENT was released about 3 years ago (already – how time flies). I really love the duality of the title – THE CHRISTMAS PRESENT can be seen with the word present meaning a “gift” and also contemporary/now.
In the meantime enjoy this delightful video of Robbie and his family. And if you like this video you may also enjoy his video for CAN’T STOP CHRISTMAS.
3 sisters, Maggie, Terre & Suzzy Roche – known collectively as The Roches.
This contemporary folk group has wowed audiences for years with their vocal harmonies and unique songs. When you think of Handel’s MESSIAH you may think hundred voice chorus and orchestra. And no doubt you have some favorite recording of the entire piece. But the Hallelujah Chorus is by far one of the most popular and reproduced songs from that master work.
The Roches decided to take a wild leap of faith and record the Hallelujah Chorus not only a Cappella but also as a trio. It is was first released on a more experimental (for them) album KEEP ON DOING (1982). That album was produced by none other than Robert Fripp, of King Crimson fame, who also contributed his unique guitar textures to several tracks. Ironically the song would NOT be reprised on their Christmas album WE THREE KINGS (1990).
The Roches continued to perform until Margaret (Maggie) passed away in 2017.
And in case you think, "there's no way that can be done live".....
Well, prepare to eat your words.... LOL
(advance apologies for the occasional dropouts the sound)
Savatage was a heavy metal band that recorded an excellent 1995 album, DEAD WINTER DEAD (not exactly a holiday album). Their popular song was CHRISTMAS EVE (Sarajevo 12/24) which was to be meditation on the plight of the people during the war in Sarajevo. Notable for it’s heavy metal instrumental version of CAROL OF THE BELLS it would soon become enshrined in popular holiday culture when the band changed it’s name to release an entire Christmas album. When Savatage reinvented themselves as The Trans Siberian Orchestra.
Now there is another unwarranted war being inflicted on a people who did not ask and did not deserve it. Let’s use this time to reflect on Ukraine and what the people are going thru this year. May they merge victorious against Putin’s savage, punishing brutalization.
I’ve always loved this song by Greg Lake (of Emerson Lake & Palmer). It’s a really pretty song with a pleasing melody. But the lyrics are a challenge. They are delightfully cynical. He starts of with “I believed….” than switches to “they sold me” where he basically talks about being sold a fantasy (at best) and lies (at worst) which he also believed in… and it carries on from there with “the Christmas we get, we deserve.” It doesn’t get much darker than that. So listen closely and enjoy.
Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section.
I don’t listen to a whole lot of gospel music and not a whole lotta blues. But when I do they are usually blended together. One group that has done this masterfully for decades now is Blind Boys Of Alabama. Their original Christmas album is titled GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN.
On the original recording Tom Waits joins them. For this post I wanted to highlight this group without Tom’s able assist – so enjoy this live studio performance of the title track GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN.
Okay so this isn’t a Yes Christmas but the next best thing. I purchased this original album by Jon Anderson simply because he was the vocalist for one of my favorite progressive bands. This album blew me away. All the songs are great and this one is a perennial holiday favorite. High energy – needs played at full volume. Enjoy HOW IT HITS YOU from Jon’s holiday album 3 SHIPS. A great way to start the weekend.
Bruce Cockburn is someone who’s career I’ve followed since 1978 when he had a hit single WONDERING WHERE THE LIONS ARE. Hailing from the great north, Canada, Bruce is a national treasure to Canadian songwriters. He is to Canadians what Bob Dylan is to Americans. This song is from his 1993 album simply titled CHRISTMAS. And wonderful folksy EARLY ON ONE CHRISTMAS MORN.
A song to appeal to all adults. Holly Cole and her Trio first crossed my expanding auditory orbit when she released a jazz cover album of Tom Waits songs titled TEMPTATION. From that point on I said, “I need to know more about this amazing song stylist.”
CHRISTMAS BLUES was the title track of her very first recorded release a few years before she decided to cover Tom Waits. Who releases their first album as a Christmas album? LOL . Anyway it has become a standard and was also found on the JAZZ TO THE WORLD album of various jazz performers interpreting some of their favorite holiday songs.
The TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS has long been a favorite holiday song. I especially love this version. Reinvented by singer Dianne Reeves and French jazz percussionist Mino Cinelu. This version was released in 1995 on the WORLD CHRISTMAS compilation with proceeds benefitting Special Olympics.
Winter has been a favorite season of mine for a long long time. The things I always liked about winter were the cold, ice, snow and wind…. But winters have been milder (thanks to climate change) so I find them less enjoyable than previously. Looks like we’ll have a “green” Christmas – for at least the fifth year in a row…… I remember when Christmas’s were always “white” with snow. Oh well, that’s life. Last week we had some snow so I was able to get out and enjoy it for the couple of days it lasted. Today’s image is proof of that.
When winter comes
Its cold dark embrace beguiling
We search for warmth
Wind howls coldly
Wrapped in sweaters of warmth
Hide in hovels
Boldly we soldier on
Bring On The Night
Light only flickers
Dancing a tarantella
A dark long night-scape
In the northern hemisphere Christmas is also closely aligned with the Winter Solstice – the darkest time of the year when days are short and nights are long (unlike my friends in the southern hemisphere where this is the beginning of summer).
In honor of the Winter Solstice here is some music by the underrated Tin Hat Trio. The track is titled THE LONGEST NIGHT from their recording Book Of Silk.
That we CAN have a relationship directly with you.
In this way he was the door, the gate,
Through which your spirit that dwells within us
Has been awakened.
We thank you for this awakening that removes all Hindrance
Even if that separation is political, social, religious
And now we thank you for this meal
And time of togetherness between family and friends
We bless this meal in the name of Jesus
That it may give us physical strength and stamina
We bless you that you may give us the mental and spiritual strength and stamina
To be a blessing to others we come in contact with;
Removing all wrong perceptions
In Jesus name, Amen.
I believe the best prayers are not prayers of thanks and requests (or to use consumerism terms – supply and demand). The best prayers are when we pray what we believe – not what we want or hope for. For example when we pray the Lords prayer do we hope these things are true that are mentioned OR do we really believe them? And how do we believe them?
Maybe some day I’ll dissect and expound on the Lords prayer specifically.
But for now – Merry Christmas everyone. Enjoy one of my favorite Christmas songs.