Let’s Take A Moment Day 270 & My Top 10 Favorite Christmas Movies

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?

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.

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“It’s A Wonderful Life” movie still. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

With two weeks to go before Christmas, some of you may be tired of the formulaic but understandably watchable Hallmark movies. So before we get to today’s song, I am sharing my Top 10 Christmas film picks for anyone who might be looking for something different.

10. THREE DAYS (2001)

An angel (Tim Meadows, SNL’s “The Ladies Man”) gives a husband three days to convince his wife he loves her before she dies.

9. IF YOU BELIEVE (1999)

A bitter female Scrooge-like woman gets the chance to heal her inner child-who is an actual little kid following her everywhere that no one else can see, of course.

8. YOU’VE GOT MAIL (1998)

A Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan classic-and my favorite of their four collaborations-set in the greatest city in the world, NYC. With Jean Stapleton, Dabney Coleman, Dave Chappelle & Greg Kinnear in the cast as well, it is a fun watch.

7. WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING (1995)

Sandra Bullock became America’s sweetheart in this utterly charming film.

6. ELF (2003)

What is not to love about Will Ferrell as a 30 year old 6 foot tall elf? Ed Asner, Bob Newhart & James Caan help tell this thoroughly enchanting & adorable story.

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Buddy The Elf (Will Ferrell, L) & Santa (Ed Asner, R) in “Elf”. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

5. THE CHRISTMAS LIST (1997)

A 30-something woman (Mimi Rogers) makes a list for Santa and suddenly starts receiving everything she asked for. But not in the way she expected. Improbable, yes, but entertaining nonetheless. And completely enjoyable. Not very popular but not to be missed.

4. A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983)

I triple dog dare you not to adore this movie. What I love the most about it? How simple the celebration of the holiday actually is. No one is trying to do too much, the mom is not frantic to make everything Christmas card perfect and ends up giving her family a lovely, warm, comfortable & happy celebration. The house is not overwhelmed with decorations so the one big beautiful tree is the centerpiece to love, admire and inhale. Plus we see a bully finally get what he deserves. Delightful in every way.

3. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)

The film equivalent of Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song”, it’s just not officially the holiday season without George Bailey’s self-sacrificing good guy persona. And as Monica told Phoebe in “Friends”, it has “wonderfulness baked right in”.

2. LOVE ACTUALLY (2003)

Before Liam Neeson declared himself & his skills a nightmare to the people who took his daughter, he was helping his stepson navigate his first crush. And Bill Nighy is his usual brilliant self. Plus it features two musical standouts: Today’s song by Otis Redding and Joni Mitchell’s 2000 version of “Both Sides Now”. And even though it does end with a group performance of “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, somehow it works.

1. SCROOGED (1988)

Oh, do I love, love, LOVE this movie. The classic Dickens story told with such colorful characters portrayed by Bill Murray, Alfre Woodard, David Johansen, musical street players like Miles Davis, Dave Sanborn & Paul Shaffer, a theme song featuring Al Green & Annie Lennox and the lovably quirky Carol Kane, who delivers the best line ever spoken by any “Ghost of Christmas Present”: “You know I like the rough stuff, don’t you?”

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Bill Murray (L) and Carol Kane (R) in “Scrooged”. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Honorable mention to “The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” (2008). Henry (“The Fonz”) Winkler plays a retired NY cop who goes to Illinois to spend Christmas with his niece, her son & the kind helpful stranger he met on the plane. This was actually one of the first Hallmark Christmas movies before the concept was turned into an assembly line franchise. Maybe that accounts for the lack of sugary side effects in this thoroughly pleasant film.

And if you are vehemently opposed to Christmas movies but are still reading this post? Yes, Virginia, there is one for you, too: “Bad Santa” (2003). Billy Bob Thornton is the ultimate ne’er do well and best part of this film, but hearing Bernie Mac shout “Pull your damn pants up” to a kid wearing them close to knee cap level is everything.

Now back to the music.

Today’s song is my absolute favorite version of this Christmas staple. Bing Crosby’s may be the classic recording of this tune, but to hear Otis Redding sing anything will always be my first choice. His cover is chock full of heart, soul, blood, sweat & tears. It is an absolute must for any holiday playlist.

May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white
“.

Otis

(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 what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 238

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?

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(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.

November 7th marked the 77th birthday for Roberta Joan Anderson, known to the world as Joni Mitchell. Born in Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada in 1943 she is one of music’s premier female singer/songwriters. She was part of the Laurel Canyon music scene of the late 1960’s and, along with Linda Ronstadt, one of only two solo female performers in that group of artists.

Mitchell’s debut album was released in 1968 but it was the follow-up, 1969’s “Clouds”, that established her place in music history. She wrote her own songs, played her own music and produced most of it. Her music went from folk to jazz to rock and more because her sound and compositions were so diverse they could not be put into one box. Along the way she went back to explore her first love and another talent, painting.

Many of her songs have been covered by several other artists, but today’s track has been covered hundreds of times in the last five decades. Mitchell herself recorded a new version in 2000 complete with a full orchestra that was featured in the 2003 film, “Love Actually”. No matter how many times I hear this song, I remain in complete awe of its beauty, its elegance, its message and the fact that she was only 21 when she wrote such profound and insightful lyrics.

But now old friends they’re acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day
“.

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Joni 3

Top: Joni Mitchell circa 1972. Bottom: Mitchell circa 2010. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Joni Mitchell: “Both Sides Now” (1969, 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 10

Welcome back to the countdown!!!

I think today’s vintage Christmas card image has to be the most adorable one so far, don’t you agree???!!!

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Found on Pinterest (original source unknown.

The singer we celebrate today, the King of Soul, recorded two Christmas songs before he died 52 years ago today at the age of 26.  The first one was yesterday’s pick (Day 9) and his version is undoubtedly the most soulful one ever made.  It is the highlight of the soundtrack from the movie “Love Actually” which, if you have not seen yet, stop what you are doing and WATCH IT NOW!!!  Bonus:  the very handsome & charming Liam Neeson is in it and will just melt your heart!!!

The second dates back to 1947 and is just another example of how this immensely talented singer could sing anything and make it his own.  And since he left us with only these two holiday songs, and since he is probably the greatest male soul singer who ever graced this earth, I feel I must share both with you or I would not be doing my job as your music connoisseur  🙂

Otis.jpgOtis Redding circa mid 1960’s (original source unknown).    

Otis Redding:  “Merry Christmas Baby” (1967, written by Johnny Moore and Lou Baxter in 1947)

Otis Redding:  “White Christmas” (1967, written by Irving Berlin in 1942)

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!!!

Christmas Song Countdown #16 & #17

Hello, Vixens!!!  Welcome back to the countdown!!!

I had some technical difficulties yesterday, so today’s post will celebrate two songs to catch us up.  Double the musical fun!!!

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(Original source unknown)

 

The first song is by country music royalty.  He grew up listening to hymns and folk songs to become one of the architects of Sam Phillips’ label, Sun Records.  He brought an edge to country music, joined fellow country icons to become a Highwayman and for all intents and purposes brought the bad guy persona to country music with his “Folsom Prison Blues” song & concert.

And if his contribution to that genre was not enough, he covered many different songs from artists he admired like Neil Young (“Heart Of Gold“), Bruce Springsteen (“Johnny 99“) Nine Inch Nails (a powerful astonishing version of “Hurt“) and U2 (“One), to name a few.  Yet, he will always be best know for his staple songs, namely “Ring of Fire“,  “A Boy Named Sue” and “I Walk The Line“.

He was also one half of one of the greatest love stories of all time, proving to men everywhere that there is absolutely no shame in admitting you need a good woman by your side, and wanting her there as well.

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Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash’s wedding day-March 1, 1968 (courtesy:  JohnnyCash,com

 

He took this Christmas carol and made it his own.  He was, very simply, the Man In Black.

Johnny Cash:  Silent Night.

Second pick:

Not too many people have actually written a Christmas song, only performed the classic ones.  This singer has done both, and I really like some of her music from the early years of her career (mid to late 1990’s) until she moved to her post Tommy Mottola now-I-am-going-to-pepper-my-pop-sound-with-rap years.  But there is no denying the power or beauty of her voice.

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(Courtesy of Universal Pictures)

 

Call it a guilty pleasure, or a loyalty to someone else from my home region of Long Island, but I do occasionally listen to this singer and this song specifically at this time of year.  If you are a fan of the film “Love Actually” there is no way not to enjoy this song.  (And despite all the baggage surrounding her first acting performance in the movie “Glitter”, I thought her performances in “Wisegirls” and “Precious” were very well done.)

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Mariah Carey, Melora Walters and Mira Sorvino in “Wisegirls” (courtesy of Loins Gate Films)

 

I love this video for this song so much better than the first one.  It may not be Christmasey, but it is not cheesy, either.

Mariah Carey:  All I Want For Christmas.

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, fellow Vixens, happy listening!!!

 

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(Original source unknown)

Christmas Song Of The Day #1

Hello, Vixens!!!  How are your Christmas plans coming along?  Are you getting all your shopping/baking/decorating/celebrating/wrapping done?  I try to adhere to a less is more approach to this season (operative word here is “try”), but it always includes some great music.

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Source:  caryschmidt.com

So while you are knee deep in holiday preparations, give yourself a well deserved break by pouring a mug of your favorite beverage, grabbing a Christmas cookie or candy cane as a snack, and indulge in the sounds of the season.

Today’s song was featured in one of my all-time favorite movies, holiday or otherwise, “Love Actually“.  It is by a man who, as of today, has been sadly & unbelievably gone from this world for 48 years.  But thankfully, the phenomenal gift of his voice stays with us in such classics like “(Sittin’ On ) The Dock of The Bay“, “Try A Little Tenderness“, “Shake” and “I Can’t Turn You Loose“.  Please note that I do not own the rights to the music or the videos.  I am just sharing my favorites and some great performances from the man himself 🙂 .

Here is Otis Redding’s sublime rendition of “White Christmas“.

Enjoy!!!

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                   Source:  OtisRedding.com