25 Days Of Christmas Music 2021: Day 10

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the countdown.

day 10

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

We may not have a lot of music from Otis Redding because he died entirely too young but the songs he did give us are absolutely astonishing. That includes his cover of today’s holiday classic which he recorded in his signature soulful style. What a gift this man was to music.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white
“.

Otis

Otis Redding in June 1967. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Otis Redding: “White Christmas” (1967, written by Irving Berlin).

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 2021: Day 7

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the countdown.

sleigh

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Any holiday tune from The First Lady Of Song is fabulous without question. But today’s is my favorite.

We’re snuggled up together
Like two birds of a feather would be
Let’s take that road before us
And sing a chorus or two
“.

ella

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 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 2021: Day 6

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the countdown.

My Christmas Wish

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Well I made it all the way to Day 6 before playing my most loved song of the season. Most fans choose “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” as their favorite holiday tune by The Boss. But I am different. As great as that track is, today’s pick will always be the one I adore most. I love Otis Redding’s version, too. But since Springsteen recorded his rendition at my old stomping grounds-The Nassau Coliseum-in Uniondale, NY in December 1980, I just cannot help but swoon over it every single time I hear it. And because it is by Bruce, of course.

Santa came down the chimney
Half past three
With lots of nice little presents
For my baby and for me
“.

Bruce

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: “Merry Christmas Baby” (1986, written by Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore).

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 2021: Day 4

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the countdown.

christmas-4

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Today’s song was featured on my countdown in 2018. I love the story that goes with it about how I discovered the singer so I decided to repost it for those of you who are new to my blog. I hope you enjoy it.

I love soap operas.  Love them.  Notice that I wrote in the present tense, despite the fact that I do not watch them anymore because nearly all my favorite ones were cancelled.  I watched General Hospital for decades but they lost me over the years, especially when Tony Geary (the iconic Luke Spencer) retired.  However, I must admit I find myself tuning into “The Bold & The Beautiful” if I remember it is on since Thorsten Kaye-All My Children’s beautifully delicious Zac Slater-is on it.  I still like the genre for the most part.  Some of the tried & true story lines like- who’s the real daddy of the baby despite what the first blood test results are because we all know so & so switched the DNA samples -should be retired.  But I digress.

I started watching soaps with my mom when I was little, then when I was home sick from school or on summer vacation and later on when I could record them on my VCR.  Then I would marathon all five episodes on the weekend.  For today’s crowd, marathon was the original term for binge-watching.  I really believe I invented that.  But again, I digress.

My favorite soap of all time is Another World.  I adored that show.  Adored it.  It was cancelled nearly 20 years ago, and I still miss my friends from Bay City.  Every.  Single.  Day.  AW had some of the best (and most underrated) actors & writers in the business, and depicted true solid enduring friendships and love stories in a way that was both believable and touching.

I learned some captivating poetry when a few characters recited some of the best ones (“A Drinking Song” by William Butler Yates and “I Carry Your Heart With Me” by E.E. Cummings are just two the soap introduced me to).  One character-the extraordinary Charles Keating’s Carl Hutchins-in particular even quoted King Lear, among other Shakespeare plays.  And I discovered an absolutely astounding singer thanks to AW, too.

AW

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

In October 1995 a beloved character named Ryan Harrison was killed off.  He was the proverbial good guy-nice, romantic, worked as a cop, was adored by his fiancé, loved by his family, etc.  The scenes of him saying goodbye to the great love of his life were hard enough, but watching the various characters getting the news of his passing was unbearable.  It was done at the end of the episode in a montage of scenes.  But there was no dialogue.  Just music.  And singing.  One voice.  One song.  And it was exquisite.

It was written for a Broadway play, but it fit the scene like a glove.  I had never heard it before but from the first note I was enthralled.  And then I was sobbing, not only because of Ryan’s death, or the other actor’s mesmerizing performances, but because the lyrics  told such a beautiful heartbreaking story.  I was so overwhelmed by emotion I actually stood up and applauded the actors, the singer and the genius who brought them both together.  Whoever the person was in charge of the music on AW deserved an award-or perhaps even the Nobel Peace prize-for bringing us such a stunning moment.

I do not know who that person was, but the song was “Once Upon A Dream” from the Broadway hit “Jekyll & Hyde”.  It was written by composer Frank Wildhorn and sung by his then wife, actress/singer Linda Eder.  To this day, I cannot hear that song without wanting to cry my eyes out.  And I can recognize Eder’s undeniably elegant & unbelievably beautiful voice the second I hear it.

Linda Eder

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

That is why when I heard today’s Christmas song I knew it was her.  She was a guest vocalist on a 1998 classical album by harpist Jung Kwak.  The music is gorgeous to match Eder’s voice and the lyrics exude wishes for the holiday season and always without being overly sentimental:

Let there be peace, let there be love
Listen to the silence, listen for the song”.

Jung

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Jung Kwak featuring Linda Eder: “The Gift” (1998, credit(s) unknown).

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 2021: Day 1

Happy December, everybody!!!

December

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

We have officially arrived at the Christmas season so what better way to celebrate this festive time of year than with a daily countdown of great holiday songs to usher in the big day. All are welcome even if you are not a fan of this type of music or you do not celebrate the holiday, Great music of any kind is meant to be enjoyed by all.

If today’s song does not immediately make you think of Will Ferrell in yellow tights, then you have not watched his 2003 movie, “Elf”, nearly enough times. This song is playing as he & his newly discovered little brother are jumping on beds at Gimbels Department Store. The moment simultaneously introduced a whole new generation to the magic of Stevie Wonder. Both Darlene Love and Michael McDonald do fantastic versions of this tune, but who can really compare to the eighth Wonder of the world?

I feel like runnin’ wild
As anxious as a little child
To greet you ‘neath the mistletoe
Kiss you once and then some more
“.

S Wonder

Elf soda

Top: Stevie Wonder circa 1975. Bottom (L-R): Daniel Tay (Michael) and Will Ferrell (Buddy) as everyone’s favorite elf downing a two liter bottle of Coke in one eighth of a second. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Stevie Wonder: “What Christmas Means To Me” (1967, written by Anna Gaye, George Gordy and Allen Story).

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!!!

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!!!