Let’s Take A Moment Day 280

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?

Dec 21

(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.

There is so much to love about the movie “Elf” from Will Farrell’s portrayal of Buddy, the man-child Santa’s helper of The North Pole, the supporting cast, the fact that most of it takes place in NYC and so on. But the music is a huge part of the story as well. I love that it is a grown-up soundtrack. That was also the approach “A Charlie Brown Christmas” took with its music when it introduced children to contemporary jazz through holiday songs. Many of the tracks were written specifically for the TV special (most notably “Christmas Time Is Here”, “Skating” & “Linus & Lucy”) while it ended with a traditional carol (“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”).

Elf did not use any original tunes but it made up for it in the artists which were included in the film. It gave us powerhouses like Louis Prima (yes, “Pennies From Heaven” is not a Christmas song but it worked so well in the scene, plus how many contemporary soundtracks feature this incredibly talented man?), Stevie Wonder (“What Christmas Means To Me”), Jim Reeves (“Jingle Bells”) & The First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald, with today’s pick. Any movie that introduces a new generation to this woman is one everyone should see.

Our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy cozy are we
We’re snuggled up together like two birds of a feather would be
Let’s take that road before us and sing a or two
Come on it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you
“.

Ella

Lady Ella Fitzgerald circa 1945. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Ella Fitzgerald: “Sleigh Ride” (1960, written by Leroy Anderson and Mitchell Parish).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 272

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?

Dec 12 1AA

(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
“.

Ally-and-Larry

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.

Stay well.

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2019: Day 25

Welcome back to the countdown!!!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!!!  Buon Natale!!!  Joy to the world & peace on earth to all!!!

day 25

Found on Pinterest (original source unknown).  

I hope you all have a safe, happy & meaningful Christmas, however you choose to celebrate.  Thank you for joining me for the countdown again this year.  It’s always fun for me to find original seasonal music and new versions of classic holiday songs I hope you will enjoy.

For today’s pick, I believe there is only one that expresses the meaning and spirit of this day.  As for the singer, he began his career in gospel music before using his rich bass baritone voice to sing in almost every other genre, most notably country.  Many of his songs focused on trials and redemption, the latter of which is part of what we celebrate on this special day.

Johnny Cash.jpg

Johnny Cash:  “Joy To The World” (1980, written by Lowell Mason & Isaac Watts in 1719).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, happy listening!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2019: Day 23

Welcome back to the countdown!!!

Merry Christmas Eve eve!!!

day 23

Found on Pinterest (original source unknown).

Is it weird that one of my favorite versions of today’s song is from a 1996 “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) skit?  It featured two of my favorite regulars, Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon, along with a very funny Whitney Houston a few years after “The Bodyguard” was released.  The skit is hilarious and ends with her and Shannon trying to out-sing each other on this song.  No, I don’t think it’s weird.  I think it would be strange if I did not appreciate this fabulous piece of pop culture.  Another one of my favorite versions of today’s song is by a 1960’s girl group who not only gave us some great music, but also helped to introduce all of us to another part of pop culture-The Wall of Sound.

Ronettes

The Ronettes:  “Sleigh Ride” (1963, music written by Leroy Anderson in 1948 & lyrics written by Mitchell Parish in 1950).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, happy listening!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2019: Day 22

Welcome back to the countdown!!!

Holiday greetings to all of you on this first day of winter!

day 22 B.jpg

Found on Pinterest (original source unknown). 

I have a weakness for string arrangements in any type of music.  It began the moment I heard the absolutely exquisite introduction to Bruce Springsteen’s “Jungleland”.  That union of a piano and violin is just so beautiful I never recovered from that first listen.  It inspired me to learn to play the viola in junior high.  I stayed with it all through high school, then in college I took cello lessons.  It became my first love to both play and listen to.  I firmly believe that whoever coined the phrase “hauntingly beautiful” did so after hearing an unbelievably powerful and heartbreakingly elegant string arrangement, perhaps like this one from my favorite movie soundtrack of all time by composer Rachel Portman.

Today’s pick was originally done with only a piano accompaniment to the singer’s voice which made for a really lovely piece of music.  The version of the song I am using today is also a  piano/vocal combination.  But with the addition of one of the most gorgeous string arrangements I have ever heard,  it goes from lovely to utterly sublime.

Ally mcbeal

Robert Downey Jr.:  “River” (2000, written by Joni Mitchell in 1971).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, happy listening!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2019: Day 20

Welcome back to the countdown!!!

A Christmas hello from me and jolly ol’ St. Nick!!!

day 19

Found on Pinterest (original source unknown).  

A common theme in many Christmas songs is going home for the holiday.  For many people, the sentimental pull of family gatherings, traditions we learned as children and the nostalgia invoked from seeing decorations we either made or put on the tree when we were kids is just too much to resist.  Of course, for many the stress of too much family togetherness is enough of an issue to skip the trip home.  Some have committed to defending our country so home is on the other side of the world.  And for others, there is no home to go to.  But the one thing we all have access to is the music of Christmas.  That may help us all find a memory that takes us back home, if only in our dreams.

Buble

Michael Bublé:  “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” (2011, written by Kim Gannon, Walter Kent and Buck Ram circa 1943).

And for a very pretty female take on this song, my choice is by the second funniest woman in one of my all time favorite movies, “9 to 5”.  And she only came in second because Lily Tomlin is a comedic genius.  So I am sure Dora Lee Rhodes understands completely why she is my number two.

Dolly

Dolly Parton:  “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” (1990, written by Kim Gannon, Walter Kent and Buck Ram circa 1943).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, happy listening!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2019: Day 19

Welcome back to the countdown!!!

Ah, holly wreaths.  So simple yet add such an elegant touch to make any room more festive for the season.  And so pretty to look at, too.

day 20.jpg

Found on Pinterest (original source unknown).

I have always loved acoustic music.  The more simple an arrangement, the more you can really focus on the beauty of the voice singing.  Today’s singer had one of the prettiest I have ever heard.  She interpreted many songs in her own style, including “Autumn Leaves“, “Songbird“, “Over The Rainbow” and “Fields of Gold“, and each one was more gorgeous than the last.  Her cover of today’s song is no exception.

eva-cassidy

Eva Cassidy circa early 1990’s (original source unknown).

Eva Cassidy:  “Silent Night” ( written by Franz Xavier Gruber and Joseph Mohr in 1818).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, happy listening!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2019: Day 18

Welcome back to the countdown!!!

Wintry scenes would not be complete without a snowman.  I think this one has the perfect hat, too!!!

day 18

Found on Pinterest (original source unknown).

Imagination is part of the fun of Christmas.  Always has been.  For children it is wondering what Santa will bring them and if they might catch a glimpse of him coming down the chimney.  For adults it is thinking up new ways to celebrate, decorate and entertain, not to mention trying to come up with original and exciting gift ideas to wow their friends and family.  So with all that sharp thinking going on, it’s not surprising that songs about the season get creative as well.  One about two people building a snowman seems like innocent fare, right?  But when the couple starts pretending that snowman is real, and a member of the clergy who they can ask to marry them?  Still pure fun or the basis for a Stephen King novel???  🙂

My vote is 100% pure unadulterated fun, not to mention great music as well.  This song has been recorded dozens of times by many different artists, but this man’s version has always been my favorite.  It has been featured in several movies, most notably “When Harry Met Sally” and “Elf”.  He is not only one of the greatest singers this country ever produced but he is considered a natural treasure as well. And rightfully so.

Ray

Ray Charles:  “Winter Wonderland” (1985, written by Felix Bernard and Richard Bernhard Smith in 1934).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, happy listening!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2019: Day 17

Welcome back to the countdown!!!

A Christmas tree by a decorated mantel and a roaring fire…….does it get more cozy than that???

day 17

Found on Pinterest (original source unknown).  

Today’s song has been a favorite of mine since the first time I watched “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”.  Who would not love a festive holiday tune sung by a cuddly adorable and very dapper snowman???

I always loved the line “say hello to friends you know” best.  It was just so cordial and lighthearted.  However, since the fall of 1997, whenever I hear that line, especially the word “hello”, I cannot help but get hysterical with laughter.  That is because all I can think of is how Jerry, George, Kramer & Elaine greeted each other with that word in a “funny booming jovial” hilariously boisterous voice supposedly belonging to Jerry’s girlfriend Clare’s stomach (using the belly button as a mouth, of course)  in the Seinfeld episode, “The Voice“.  If you are a fellow Seinfeld fan, you have just done the proverbial laugh out loud remembering that episode.  If you are one of the three people who was not a fan of the show, here’s a clip to bring you up to speed.  Only Jerry & Company could take a word like “hello” and turn it into a pop culture moment.

tenor

Seinfeld’s “Helllloooo” 

Burl Ives, both circa 1964 (original sources unknown).

Burl Ives:  “Holly Jolly Christmas” (1964, written by Johnny Marks in 1962).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, happy listening!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2019: Day 16

Welcome back to the countdown!!!

I just swooned over this gorgeous Christmas tree.  Looks like pink was popular as an alternative Christmas decorating color long before it became known as shabby chic.  Whatever the style was called, I just love it.

day 16

Found on Pinterest (original source unknown).

Occasionally two different songs have the same title.  Some examples include the Beatles and the Doors with “The End”, Ringo Starr and Def Leppard share “Photograph”, Queen and Jefferson Airplane share “Somebody To Love”,  R.E.M. and the Cars share “Drive” to name a few.  Today’s song was released first but when a more popular and successful singer released her song with the same title in 1994, it all but sent today’s version into  non-existence.  But over the years the first one found its way back to regular air play thanks in part to all the 24 hour a day Christmas music stations across the nation.  That also helped to land this song on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart seven times between 1994 and 2002.

The original version is sung by a country/pop/novelty group with lead vocals by Lisa Layne who was known as Lisa Burgess Stewart at the time of the recording.  It is considered a country song, yet when a country artist recorded her own version of it, she did it with a jazzy, bluesy big band feel.  That sound combined with her powerful voice makes her version my current favorite of the two.

As for the other song with the same title, it is a holiday staple.  I love the way it is featured in the movie “Love Actually“.  And last month it cemented its place in history by garnering three Guinness World Records for 2020.  The honors include highest-charting holiday (Christmas/New Year) song on the U.S. Hot 100 chart by a solo artist, most weeks in the U.K. singles top 10 chart for a Christmas song and most-streamed track on Spotify in 24 hours (female).  That must qualify the singer as the Christmas Queen.

vince vance

Vince Vance & The Valiants:  “All I Want For Christmas Is You” (1989, written by Troy Powers and Andy Stone in 1989).

leann rimes

LeAnn Rimes:  “All I Want For Christmas Is You” (2004, written by Troy Powers and Andy Stone in 1989).

mariah carey

Mariah Carey:  “All I Want For Christmas Is You” (1994, written by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff f/k/a Baby Love in 1994).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, happy listening!!!