Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gee Whiz, It's Almost Christmas!

I've always had mixed feelings about Christmas. Even as a child my anticipation and enjoyment of the holidays always had a touch of melancholy hovering just below the surface.The one thing that could dissipate my holiday blues was music, specifically Christmas music. I love Christmas songs, the cheery ones and the sad ones, the serious ones and the silly ones. So I'm taking a break from any talk of the woes of government and focusing my thoughts on the music of the season. 

I love traditional Christmas Carols such as Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful) or Silent Night. However if I had to choose one favorite traditional carol it would be O Holy Night; the lyrics are from a French poem, Minuit, Chr├ętiens (Midnight, Christians) that was set to music composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847. I love the way it starts quietly and crescendos into this powerful exultation of pure love and joy. It's been recorded many times but one of my favorite renditions is by Celine Dion. 
I grew up listening to an eclectic mix of music from country to rhythm and blues to gospel. Mahalia Jackson had one of the most recognizable voices in gospel music. Her interpretation of Silent Night rocks you gently like a lullaby.

I also like more contemporary holiday music like Elvis belting out Blue Christmas or Karen Carpenter sweetly singing Merry Christmas, Darling. A couple of years ago I heard a song on the radio that made me want to stop my car, get out and sway to the beat.  When the song ended, the DJ didn't name the artist, so I pulled over in the parking lot of the CVS and called the station. The title of the song was All I Want For Christmas Is You and it was performed by Vince Vance and the Valiants. Recorded in 1993, it charted on the country chart and the pop chart. The lead vocals are by Lisa Layne. Another great holiday song with the same title was recorded a couple of years ago by Mariah Carey but they are not the same song, they just have the same title. The video below is the tune by Vince Vance and the Valiants. By the way, the video has a lousy visual but it had the best sound quality.

This next song reminds me of my childhood and my paternal grandmother. She had a wonderful collection of 45s and during the Christmas season she always seemed to have music playing. This classic by Charles Brown was released in 1960. I was five and I loved to listen to the song and watch the grownups slow dance to it in my grandmother's parlor. We don't really have parlors any more, too bad. Every child should have the opportunity to peak around the corner and spy on the grownups. The song is Please Come Home for Christmas.

The next song isn't really a Christmas song; however, it's become associated with Christmas; it's the late Dan Fogelberg's Same Old Lang Syne. This song always makes me cry, sort of like the film, The Way We Were. It's filled with all the regrets of the road not taken and the love that was but somehow didn't work out. A bit of trivia--Fogelberg began each verse with the melody phrase from Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. I like to sing along with this one until my nose is runny from all the crying and I can't make any sound that doesn't sound like a snort. The solo sax wailing Auld Lang Syne as a coda does me in completely. This video has the lyrics!
All of my tastes in Christmas music isn't limited to sad songs or spiritual songs, I looked for a video of that classic tune, Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer but I didn't like any of the versions that I found on YouTube. Yes it's funny, how can you not laugh at a song with lyrics like these, "They should never give a license, to a man who drives a sleigh and plays with elves." However, I found a version sans video that I liked, just click the link.

Every time I think that I'm done, I come across another song that I love. I've been having a sing-a-long while writing this. I can't omit Carla Thomas singing Gee Whiz It's Christmas. Thomas began her career with Stax records and is the daughter of another great soul singer, Rufus Thomas.
I have to include one final tune that is politically incorrect on so many levels but I like it nonetheless, Eartha Kitt crooning Santa Baby. I know that Madonna, and Taylor Swift and a ton of others have done covers of the song, but the tune belongs to Ms. Eartha Kitt and personally, I think all those other versions should be destroyed.
There are so many wonderful songs and I could go on and on but I have to draw the line somewhere. Merry Christmas to all!


warrior scout said...

loves the carla thomas song.. made my day.. will share on fb... and thanks for posting my widget....happy holidays gurrrrrll...

mrs. miss alaineus said...

i like singing christmas songs regardless of what they are about- sometimes the thing i like best about my job is that we can sing both religious and fun songs at the same pageant without having to worry about offending anyone.


Sybil said...

Oh what a lovley half hour you have just given me. I have been in bliss land !! You would not know it but my wonderful CD player refused to play the other day and after phoning to find out what might be the matter I hear I have to send it back to the manuacturer although it is now 3 years old they can still be a cost of course !!...but it has meant that I have been without all my very favorite christmas your entry tonight has just come at the right time...I will be back again and again !!
Love sybil xx

Big Mark 243 said...

Couldn't listen to Celine Dion for ethical reasons, but I did watch and listen to them all.

Whoever is the girl in the Vinc Vance pic looks like something I would wish to have 'trimming my stockings'!

I liked the life in the Charles Brown song and you are so very right about 'Santa Baby'. The tease that Eartha Kitt has in her voice owns that song.

When I am in my better moods, I get ideas through reading through journals and 'Same Old Lang Syne' is going to be in my very next post. The melancholy is right and fits the swirling emotions that I have regarding certain thoughts...

Take care and excellent post!(even if it did inclued Celine Dion!)

Nance said...

Lots of fun and thank you!

I've always thought Eartha the perfect name for a woman with that voice (although she sounds so young here!). How did her mommy know?

Merry Christmas!

tnlib said...

Very enjoyable. I "listened" while emailing. I love most Xmas music but am happy you spared us Alvin and the Chipmonks. And I'm probably the only Ten-uh-see-an who can't stand Swift.

Christmas is a melancholy time and I wish we'd find something else to do between before Thanksgiving and after New Year's - something a little more meaningful and not so frenetic.

Anyway, the Grinch here wish everyone a warm holiday experience.

Mark said...

What was the one Finn and Rachel did tree shopping on the Glee Christmas show? That's my favorite.
"Santa Baby" was very racy--in 1963. I don't know if I'd quite call it "politically incorrect" anymore.
But how cool would it be to watch Eartha sing it while having Manhattans with Don Draper. That's what I want for Christmas. To go back to NY and live 50 years ago with the exact same income I have today. Heaven!

Pat said...

As usual, I love your music selections! Can't bear to listen to the Fogelberg one, though, too sad. Thanks and Merry Christmas, Sheria. Do you remember the store window decorations in Belks in Wilson, or later, my father in law's painted windows all over town?

Sheria said...

Pat, I definitely remember the decorations in the Belks window; they were pretty elaborate with moving parts!

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Merry Christmas, love. I get all weepy when I hear Same Old Lang Syne, too.

I guess my favorite Christmas song of all time is John Lennon's Happy Christmas (War Is Over).

I love you and wish you a Happy Christmas and the best new year ever.


Octopus said...

Just stopping by to wish you are Happy and Healthy Halibut and Best Fishes for the New Year. May Manta Claus bring you lots of goodies.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Hope you had a great Christmas and and have an even better New Year.

Kyle said...

Sheria, I must live in cultural backwater. I've never heard Carla Thomas singing "Gee Whiz It's Christmas." I absolutely love it! Thanks for the treat. :)