Christmas Song Of The Day #11

Hello, Vixens & happy Sunday to all of you!!!  As we continue our countdown to Christmas, I hope you enjoy another one of my favorite holiday songs!!!

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Source:  worshiphousemedia.com

Every once in a while a singer comes along who changes the game and takes it up much more than a notch.  Sometimes its the timing that’s perfect, or the song, or the arrangement or the singer.  Sometimes, when the voice is really spectacular, it’s all of those things combined.  That was the certainly the case with Karen Carpenter.

As one half of the brother and sister duo, her voice became the sound of soft romantic music in the 1970’s.  Even if their music was not your particular favorite, there was no denying the beauty or subtle power of Karen Carpenter’s voice.  Her brother, Richard, knew exactly how to write and arrange music that perfectly suited her vocal range, which only added to the magic of the recordings they made together.  Add in the fact that she was also one of the first drummers in an all male setting made Karen Carpenter a real hero to so many women and little girls, me included.  In fact, I started to learn how to play the drums in fourth grade because of her, and stayed with it throughout elementary school as the only girl playing drums with the boys.

If I think about her life too closely, it is hard not to feel sorry for how things unfolded for her:  a rigorous touring schedule that left her little time for a personal or social life, a failed marriage when she just wanted to be happy and have a family like most women her age and a battle against a disease that would eventually claim her life at the age of 32.

So I’d rather focus on the beautiful music she left us, from “Superstar” (remember Chris Farley & David Spade singing this in “Tommy Boy“?), “Rainy Days and Mondays“, “Close To You” (also featured in the movie “Parenthood“), “Goodbye To Love“, “Yesterday Once More“, “We’ve Only Just Begun” and so many more.

The Carpenters also made several holiday recordings but my favorite one is The Christmas Song.  Karen’s voice is crystal clear, soft and completely mesmerizing.  She had an incredible gift.

Please remember I do not own the rights to anything, I am just sharing my favorite songs with you.

Enjoy!!!

la-re-place-carpenters18feb18-3[1]Source:  latimes.com

Goodbye To Two Legends…..

Last week we said two very sad goodbyes, one in music and the other in TV.

How will the music world recover from the loss of the King of the Blues, Riley B “B.B.” King?  “The Thrill Is Gone” virtuoso passed away on May 14 at the age of 89.  Not since Les Paul has one man done so much for the guitar, and with that guitar-affectionately named “Lucille”-King gave us some of the greatest jazz/blues/rock & roll music the world ever saw.

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Photo courtesy of the American Academy of Achievement.

He bought his first guitar while he was growing up in Mississippi  and began his career in 1947 on Beale Street in Memphis.  The rest of the story is history, complete with 15 Grammy Awards, inductions into various halls of fame (including the Rock & Roll HOF in 1987 by Sting) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, amongst others.  Still King never forgot his roots, performing in his home town of Indianola, MS every year for the last three decades.  That town is also home to the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center.

Performers from Buddy Guy to the Rolling Stones to Eric Clapton to Tracy Chapman and many others have been influenced by King, and he worked with them and many others because his appeal appeared to have no limits.  One of my favorite collaborations of King’s was with U2 in 1988, “When Love Comes To Town” .

Thank you for the music, Mr. King.  Rest in peace.

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The second goodbye goes to AMC’s masterpiece, Mad Men.  In a word, I am verklempt.

The 17 month hiatus between seasons four and five was bad enough, but now the break is final.  Sigh.

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Photo courtesy of AMC.

It was hard enough saying goodbye to NBC’s “Parenthood” earlier this year (read about that here).  But now this?  Whatever will I do without my weekly Don Draper fix (a/k/a the scrumptious Jon Hamm)?  Or Betty and Joan’s gorgeous dresses to swoon over?  What about Roger Sterling’s one liners?  I gave up smoking over 5 years ago but each time one of the characters lit up a cigarette, I inhaled with them vicariously.  And I am no longer embarrassed to order an Old Fashioned when I go out since Don & Roger enjoyed them as well.

And like the “Parenthood” finale, the end of the “Mad Men” series forced fans to deal with a death also-that of Betty Draper’s (the beautiful & talented January Jones).  No, it did not happen on screen, but it was imminent from her lung cancer diagnosis in the penultimate episode.  It was widely rumored on the internet that one character would have to suffer the consequences of all that smoking, but I was hoping it would be Peter Campbell.  I know he did not smoke but he could have contracted the illness from the second hand effects (he was my least favorite character-can you tell?).

I just felt like the Draper kids had already been through so much as a result of their absentee father, their mother’s dysfunction, the death of Grandpa Gene, their parent’s divorce, the loss of their maid/nanny Carla and their subsequent move from the only home they knew to their step-father’s mansion.  I wanted a better end to the kids story, not more grief.  And the loss of their mother was one they were all too young to deal with.  But Betty’s handling of her doom, and the letter she wrote to Sally about the funeral arrangements in the second to last episode?  January Jones’ voice was so melancholy yet so resigned as she was heard reading the note that I was absolutely inconsolable.  Kudos to her and her on-screen daughter Kiernan Shipka for the way they handled that & every scene of this story line-hell, in the entire series.

Other than that I was quite satisfied with the ending, despite how much I was dreading the show’s run coming to a close.  Peggy found love as did Roger, and with a woman his own age-go figure.  I was in such a “Mad Men” haze since AMC ran the entire series-all 7 seasons-from last Wednesday night leading up to the finale Sunday night.  I was happy to relive as much of it as I could because in addition to the great acting, great writing and great directing, I will miss the spectacular music featured in each episode.  Even the send off song the network used in promoting the end of the series-Paul Anka’s “The Times Of Your Life“-was perfect.

But my favorite song heard in the series was an instrumental of “Love Is Blue” by Paul Mauriat and his Orchestra.  Written by French composers André Popp and Pierre Cour, Mauriat’s version was released in 1967 and became an international smash.  By early 1968 it hit #1 on the US charts for five weeks.  I am ashamed to admit it, but this fantastic piece of music fell off my radar for many years until I heard it again at the end of episode 5 of season 6, “The Flood”.  (If you prefer a more rock and roll version, check out Jeff Beck’s cover here.)

So goodbye, Mad Men.  I cannot say I will miss you most of all since my favorite TV shows are dropping like flies this year, but this loss definitely hurts my heart so.  And getting the chance to live through the decade of 1961-1971 through you and with you was a fascinating ride.  Thanks for seven remarkable seasons.  Uh oh, I am getting verklempt again.  Talk amongst yourselves.  I’ll give you a topic:  Jon Hamm was neither a john nor a ham.  Discuss.

“…May your song always be sung…”

This week I, along with the rest of their fans, bid a very sad farewell to my extended family-the Bravermans of NBC’s “Parenthood“.

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Photo courtesy of NBC.

I adored this show. The entire cast was outstanding, but any scene Craig T. Nelson was in was his-period. How this man was not even nominated for an Emmy Award for his performance as family patriarch Zeek Braverman is beyond me.

And for anyone who thinks of Ray Romano as a mere comedy actor needs only to watch one second of any of his scenes on this show to realize how wrong that thought is. Romano’s portrayal of Hank Rizzoli, a man who realized he had an undiagnosed case of Asperger’s Syndrome and how it had damaged his life was simply stunning. As was his relationship with Sarah Braverman (the very entertaining Lauren Graham).

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Photo courtesy of NBC.

It was one of the first honest portrayals of a couple over 40 who learned how to navigate the murky waters of a real adult relationship by owning the mistakes that led to where they were in their lives, and where they wanted their cautiously optimistic hearts to take them in the future.

The other thing I have loved as much as the diverse group of characters on this show is the music. The series had the perfect backdrop for it because one of the characters, Crosby Braverman (the adorable and funny Dax Shepard) was a music engineer and spent the last seasons as co-owner of the Luncheonette, a fictional recording studio that saw the likes of people like Janis Joplin in its heyday.

The show also paid homage to the 60’s in many other ways: The family lived in the Bay area of California (home to the Flower Power origins, Haight-Ashbury and many other iconic 60’s movements); Nelson’s character was a Vietnam Veteran; his grandson, Drew, was a college student at Berkeley; Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” as the show’s theme song, to name a few.

The musical directors of this show did a phenomenal job with the songs they hand picked for each episode (see list HERE), but two Dylan covers win my praise for the best songs of the show’s varied soundtrack (honorable mention to Cat Steven’s “Wild World” performed by Jimmy Cliff as heard at Hank & Sarah’s wedding).

To conclude season five, Richie Haven’s raw and beautiful acoustic version of “The Times They Are A Changing” sent the Bravermans and their fans off to uncertainty about whether or not there would be a sixth season, but not without the benefit of closure and resolution for all of the characters.

For the last song of season six, the series finale, the producers and writers took us on a flash forward a few years into the future to the beauty of Dylan’s “Forever Young” sung as an exquisite duet by Rhiannon Giddens & Iron and Wine (Sam Beam).

That in and of itself would have elicited enough tears, but just prior to this song, Zeek died. My heart sunk. I predicted this from the first episode of this season when he fainted from a cardiac event and many on-line reports had speculated all season that this death was coming. But I hoped for a happy ending…..a real happy ending, where I could imagine Zeek’s expression when he heard the song his grandkids promised to record in honor of his 80th birthday, or how his eyes would well up with tears at the sight of his oldest son Adam (Peter Krause) walking his daughter Haddie (Sarah Ramos) down the aisle.

But sadly, happy endings are not real, and what made this show so damn good was that it was about a real family with real life issues. Which is what life is. And that includes the bittersweet ending as opposed to the happy ending. For anyone of us who has said goodbye to someone in our own lives, we are all too familiar with the bittersweet. So there really was no way for Zeek’s death not too happen, which is why it hurt so very, very much.

A lot of people do not live to see their 80th birthday. Some people will not have their grandparents present when they get married-or even their parents, for that matter. And like real life, no matter how much time you have, it is just never enough. Six years was not nearly enough time with this family. To borrow a line from Jimmy Webb, “endings always come too fast”, whether they occur in real life or on TV.

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Photo courtesy of NBC.

So goodbye, my beloved Braverman family. I will miss the heck out of all of you.