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.

wonderfulpic.0

“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.

Elf 1A

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?”

Scrooged

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 150

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?

Charlie Brown No Music No Life

(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.

We have hit another benchmark as we are now at day 150 of the pandemic.  Wow.  So let’s commemorate it with an extra special song & singer to make it easier to realize the five month mark.

Otis Redding.  Otis Redding.  Otis Redding.  My heart belongs to this beautiful talented singer with the most intense, passionate & soulful voice I ever heard.  I swoon over every single note of his music each time it is played.  When I really need an Otis fix, I watch his Monterey Pop Festival performance from 1967 where he literally stole the show from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Jefferson Airplane and other well established musical acts.  Redding’s music has been featured in movies like “Dirty Dancing” (“These Arms Of Mine” & “Love Man”), “Love Actually” (“White Christmas”), “Platoon” (“Dock Of The Bay”) and in TV shows like “The Sopranos” (season 2 episode 9 featured “My Lover’s Prayer”) and in the original “Magnum, P.I.” (season 7 episode 16 featured “Try A Little Tenderness”).  Today’s song, which is included on the album, “Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul”, arguably his best album released in September 1965, was featured on “The Wonder Years” in season 1 episode 6 where Kevin & Winnie danced to it at a school function.  Only Redding’s music could make a show as great as that one even better.

I’ve been loving you a little too long
I don’t want to stop now, oh
With you my life
Has been so wonderful
I can’t stop now“.

Otis

Otis Redding at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Otis Redding:  “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” (1965, written by Otis Redding and Jerry Butler).

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 20

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?

music heart

(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.

I used to love watching old movies with my grandmother.  It was how I was introduced to such stars as Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and Rosemary Clooney.  The first time I ever heard her sing was during the film “White Christmas”.  The first scene I saw was when she sang “Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me” and I was completely captivated.  Not only was her voice beautiful, but so was she.  And so elegant in her black sweetheart neck gown, white gloves and big dangly earrings which seemed to match the applique on the back of her dress.  She was perfection in every sense of the word.  After that I listened to practically every record she ever recorded and fell in love with every one.  But today’s song has always been my favorite.

R Clooney

Rosemary Clooney circa 1950 (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Rosemary Clooney:  “Tenderly” (1951, written by Jack Lawrence and Walter Gross).

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???!!!

Day 10

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!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2019: Day 9

Welcome back to the countdown!!!

Here’s another gorgeous vintage Christmas image from Pinterest.  What was life before Pinterest?!?!   🙂

day 9

Original source unknown.  

Irving Berlin could not have possibly known how many people would go on to record one of his most famous songs.  He wrote several and lived to be 101 years old, but I still think he could not even imagine how many versions of this Christmas classic would be out there one day.  And there are new ones being recorded each year.  Berlin wrote it imagining Christmas in his home state & city of New York as opposed to the west coast state of California he was working in.

When it was first released in 1942, service men & women facing their first Christmas away due to their tours in World War II saw it as a dream of home.  For the rest of us, it invokes cherished memories of the Christmases we knew as children or before life happened to us.  The version of this song I like best is by a fellow Italian, a fellow native New Yorker and painter who has been singing for 70 years.  Not a bad gig.

Tony Bennett

Anthony Dominick Benedetto a/k/a Tony Bennett:  “White Christmas” (1968, written by Irving Berlin in 1942).

And for a great female take on this classic, here is one of my favorites:

Martina White Christmas.jpg

Martina McBride:  “White Christmas” (1998, 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!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2018: Day 10

Hi, Everybody!!!  Welcome back to the countdown.

day 10A

Found on Pinterest (original source unknown).  

Today’s song is tied to a few artists we already featured in this year’s countdown.  I included it as a bonus song on Day 1 of the countdown because Bruce Springsteen covered it in 1987, but the first recording of this song dates back 40 years earlier when Charles Brown (singer of the song on Day 7) sang it as a singer and pianist with Johnny Moore’s Trailblazers.  Moore wrote it with songwriter Lou Baxter and it went to #3 on Billboard’s R&B Jukebox in 1947.  Several other artists have covered it over the years as well, but the one recorded in by the greatest soul singer of all time ranks at the top of my list.  And since this man was taken from us way too soon (51 years ago today at the age of 26), I must include his other Christmas cover because one can never have enough of this phenomenal singer’s voice.  Or this song, which this man makes all his own in this simply sublime version.

Otis

Otis Redding circa 1967 (original source unknown).  

Otis Redding:  “Merry Christmas Baby“.

Otis Redding:  “White 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, happy listening!!!

25 Days of Christmas Music 2018: Day 5

Hi, Everybody!!!  Welcome back to the countdown.

Christmas day 5

Found on Pinterest (original source unknown).

I love duets.  Always have.  There is something so special about two voices coming together.  They can be from opposite ends of the spectrum, like in the case of Bing Crosby & David Bowie on “The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth”  or two women from two different eras like Linda Ronstadt and Bette Midler on “Sisters“ or male/female like today’s song pick.  He’s a crooner who sings with big band sounds and she is a country superstar who writes (or co-writes) most of her own songs.   The musical arrangement for this duet is based on the Drifters version (which was featured in “Home Alone”) but also features some powerful horns which puts it on a level all its own.  It’s hard to believe that an Irving Berlin song from 1941 which is one of the most recorded songs in history can still be given a different spin after all these years.

Buble

Michael Buble & Shania Twain:  “White 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, happy listening!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Music: Day 13

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

small-town-christmas

(Courtesy of Cape Night Photography)

There are a lot of people who like their Christmas music old school.  I can totally understand that, being the music purist that I am.  And I love those songs, too (well, most of them anyway.)  But then I started hearing different versions of holiday music thanks to TV shows & movies using newer recordings in the soundtracks, or from watching videos of  fresh covers during MTV’s heyday, or hearing them performed in more novel ways during Christmas shows and specials.  And I fell in love with the songs all over again.

For years I did not hear any other version of this song except the original one from 1942.  There is no denying it is beautifully done.  Heck, it is the best selling single of all time.  But there are many different definitions of beautiful, and if I never heard this interpretation, what a misfortune that would have been.  For anyone who loves his original version of “What A Wonderful World“, today’s song is for you.

louis-armstrong-4

Louis Armstrong (date and original source unknown)

Louis Armstrong:  “White 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!!!

 

25 Days Of Christmas Songs: Day 6

 

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

img_18331

I have been a fan of this woman’s since I was a kid.  After Aretha Franklin, she is my favorite female singer.  From the first time I heard “You’re No Good” I was hooked and never looked back.  After that came album after album of original music and covers of songs written by the likes of Warren Zevon (“Poor Poor Pitiful Me”), Smokey Robinson (“The Tracks of My Tears”), Chuck Berry (“Back In The USA”). Holland-Dozier-Holland (“Heatwave”), Eric Kaz & Libby Titus (“Love Has No Pride“-my absolute favorite version of this song), Phil Everly (“When Will I Be Loved”), Mick Jagger & Keith Richards (“Tumbling Dice”) and many others.

Despite being called “The Queen of Rock”, she has sung practically every type of music imaginable-rock, pop, country (I adore her “Trio” albums with Dolly Parton & Emmylou Harris), jazz, big band/standards (with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra) and Mexican.  She was also in one of my favorite movies ever (“FM”) and on Broadway (in “The Pirates of Penzance”).

MSDPIOF EC025
THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, Linda Ronstadt, 1983, (c)Universal

She retired in 2011 and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.  She did not appear at the ceremony due to her announcement a year earlier that she could no longer sing as a result of Parkinson’s Disease.  Such a sad ending to her unbelievably powerful voice, enormous talent and incredibly lustrous career that earned her 11 Grammy Awards, 3 American Music Awards, 2 Academy of Country music Awards and many other accolades.

linda-ronstadt-580

Linda Ronstadt circa 1975 (original source unknown).

Before her HOF induction, Rhino Records put together a collection of duets with some of her previous collaborators and influences, many of whom happen to be some of the top female voices in history and several more of my favorites.  Two of the songs are covers from the movie “White Christmas.  I already love her solo version of  “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas“, but now I have added the two movie songs to my list.  One has nothing to do with Christmas, but since it was in the movie, I believe it qualifies for the countdown.

Linda Ronstadt and Rosemary Clooney:  “White Christmas

Linda Ronstadt and Bette Midler:  “Sisters“.

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!!!

 

Christmas Song Countdown #10

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

I wanted to share with you a creative way some people are being festive.

Country Living Magazine’s site features trees made of books!!!

I think they are adorable!!!

small-book-tree

Courtesy:  Country Living Magazine

The singer with the #10 song is my second favorite singer ever after Bruce Springsteen.  More importantly, he is probably the greatest soul singer who ever graced this Earth.  The power of his voice, the passion he sang with, the intensity of emotion he put into every single note is what we remember most about him.  And it sealed his legacy as the King of Soul.

His voice put Stax Records on the map.  His death at the age of 26 on this day 49 years ago was the end of the label, for all intents and purposes.  A month after his death the last song he recorded was released.  Soon after it became the #1 song in the country.  This year his foundation celebrated the 75th anniversary of his birth.

The night before his death, he & his band the Bar Kays (most of whom died with him in the plane crash that took his life), performed “Respect” on a show called Upbeat.  Over the closing credits, he sang “Knock On Wood” with Mitch Ryder.  It is 88 seconds of joy.  Thanks to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, you may watch that here.

During his short career, he recorded two Christmas songs.  Ironically enough for me, Bruce Springsteen covered the first one (Merry Christmas Baby).  The second one is today’s pick and by far my favorite of the two.

bruce-merrychristmasbaby

Courtesy:  Eric Meola

Otis Redding:  White 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!!!

book-trees

Courtesy:  Country Living Magazine