Hi everyone. Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing. But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?
(Image found online. Original source unknown.)
I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.
Today’s song has been called “the antidote to cheery holiday songs”, “thoroughly depressing” & “a sad Christmas song” by the writer herself, Joni Mitchell. I grew up with Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas” so I thought I was already well versed in a not so happy holiday tune about heartbreak. Wrong. Presley’s is sad without question, but Mitchell’s original rendition is just desolating. The stark beauty of her voice & the piano accompaniment just squeezes my soul and wrings every emotion out of it. When Meg Ryan quoted from it in 1998’s “You’ve Got Mail” because her business was failing and she missed her late mother, just the mere mention of the lyrics made me weep.
The song is Mitchell’s second most recorded track (close to 500 covers, behind even more for “Both Sides Now”) and I have not heard most of them, but I am still pretty sure today’s version would be in the top five. The cello arrangement is absolutely stunning on its own, but combined with the singer’s pensive tone it turns the song from just sad to hauntingly beautiful.
I was introduced to it by one of my most active readers, Michael, and I will be forever grateful for his input. Today’s version is by Robert Downey Jr. who performed it as Larry Paul, the love interest of the title character in season 4 of “Ally McBeal”. I loved that show and Downey so much I still do not know how I missed his on-air performance of this song (season 4, episode 6, “‘Tis The Season”), but thanks to Michael it has a permanent spot on my playlist all year long. It is absolutely exquisite.
“It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace“.
Robert Downey Jr. (L) & Calista Flockhart (R) in a scene from season four of “Ally McBeal”. (Image found online. Original source unknown.)
Robert Downey Jr.: “River” (2000, written by Joni Mitchell).
I do not own the rights to anything. I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.