Now for the climax of holiday music. Merry Christmas everyone. The song today is a recording I was so very happy to find on YouTube. The Messiah by George Frideric Handel. Specifically my favorite part FOR UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN. I’ve heard several versions of the Messiah and they seem sluggish and even dull at times. But this recording by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham is bright and energetic. It really embodies the energy and celebration of the Christian season. It is filled with real power. Sir Beecham was not shy in his approach to this master work. In my opinion this really is the penultimate version of the Messiah.
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.
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.
Starting off the Christmas season with a relatively new song. Wanting To Believe, a reinterpretation of the classic O Holy Night by Brian and his brother Roger Eno. Wanting to get away from the archaic religiosity of the original and make more applicable to our contemporary world, The Eno brothers have completely redone the lyrics and given this classic melody a new arrangement. A decisively more ambient arrangement which oddly enough lends to a quiet reverence that the original lyrics suggest.
This song is from a great holiday album by classical label, Deutsch Grammophon, that was released last year titled WINTER TALES.
***If you are unable to play this video please search YouTube for "Wanting To Believe" by Brian Eno.