Category Archives: Music

Christmas Carol Countdown- Day 15

Day 15: The 12 Days of Christmas by John Denver and The Muppets

I’m bringing back Muppet Mondays as part of this countdown. In 1979, John Denver and The Muppets got together to create a Christmas special. The special no longer gets played on TV and has never been released in any kind of home media format. Luckily, many families (mine included) taped a lot of stuff off of TV in the ’80s, and the special lives on courtesy of YouTube! The special opens with a rousing, Muppety version of The 12 Days of Christmas. This version is slightly different than the version found on the album, and is worth a view if you’ve never seen it.  Watching John Denver try his best not to crack up as Fozzie forgets his lines and Miss Piggy over enunciates (Fiiiveeee gooolllddd riiinngggsss BA DUM BUM BUM) is a joy.  By the way, this year, the cost of all of the gifts mentioned in the song in 2014 is over $116,000!!!!

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Christmas Carol Countdown- Day 14

Day 14:  Mary Did You Know? by Pentatonix

Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene wrote Mary, Did You Know? in 1991. The first recording was done by Christian artist Michael English, who was a member of Gaither Vocal Band along with Lowry.  I first became aware of this song when my high school chorale performed an a capella version. I always thought it was a beautiful song, and it was a consistent show stopper.  It’s been over a decade since I last performed the song, but I can still remember my alto part as if it were yesterday.  I’ve heard many versions of this song over the years, but none has moved me as much as that arrangement—until I heard the wonderful version released this year by Pentatonix. Since I don’t have a recording of my chorale’s version, I give you the next best thing.

“Mary, Did You Know?”

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God.

Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?..
Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?..

The blind will see, the deaf will hear and the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am.

Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know

Christmas Carol Countdown- Day 12

Day 12:  All I Want For Christmas is You – Michael Bublé

I know, I know. I said on Day 1 that you could only hear All I Want For Christmas is You so many times…but I think this is a perfect example of how radio stations can mix it up a little while still playing songs people want to hear.  Michael Bublé takes the Mariah Carey modern classic and puts a new spin on it by slowing it down into a smooth jam. It’s a nice change of pace. I remember it getting some play the year his Christmas album came out, but have not heard it recently. I have, on the other hand, come across Mariah Carey’s version playing at least 20 times, and –I am not exaggerating—last week it was playing simultaneously on THREE local stations. Way to bury a great song deep into the ground. Mariah actually joined Bublé on his Christmas special last year to duet on the song (of course it was the up-tempo version). Bublé’s unhurried version is a nice palate cleanser which helps to remind you how great of a song All I Want For Christmas… really is!

All I Want For Christmas is You

I don’t want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don’t care about those presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
You know that all I want for Christmas
Is you…

I won’t ask for much this Christmas
I won’t even wish for snow
No, I’m just gonna keep on waiting
Underneath the mistletoe
There’s no sense in hanging stockings
There upon the fireplace
Cause Santa he won’t make me happy
With a toy on Christmas Day
I just want you here tonight
Holding on to me so tight
Girl, what can I do?
You know that all I want for Christmas
Is you…

And all the lights are shining
So brightly everywhere
And the sound of children’s
Laughter fills the air
And everyone is singing
I can hear those sleigh bells ringing
Santa won’t you bring me the one I really love
Won’t you please bring my baby to me…

I don’t want a lot for Christmas
This is all I’m asking for
No, I just wanna see my baby
Standing right outside my door
Oh I just want you for my own
More that you could ever know
Make my wish come true
You know that all I want for Christmas
Is you…
Is you…

Christmas Carol Countdown- Day 10

Day 10: Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy– Bing Crosby and David Bowie

I am really surprised that this song doesn’t get more radio play. I feel like years ago, it was spun much more frequently. I haven’t heard it on the radio once this year, and can’t recall hearing it last year either. The unlikely duo of glam rocker David Bowie and classic crooner Bing Crosby joined forces to sing this duet for the 1977 TV special Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas.

The story goes that David Bowie agreed to participate in the show because his dear old mum loved Bing, but Bowie couldn’t stand Little Drummer Boy and wanted to sing something different. Writers Larry Grossman and Buz Kohan got to work writing a new song that would work as a counter melody, resulting in Peace on Earth. The two melodies compliment each other well, as do Bowie’s and Crosby’s voices. Bing passed away five weeks after the taping, making this one of his last recorded performances.

Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy

Come they told me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
A new-born king to see pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Our finest gifts we bring pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum

Peace on earth, can it be
Years from now, perhaps we’ll see
See the day of glory
See the day, when men of good will
Live in peace, live in peace again

Peace on earth, can it be

Every child must be made aware
Every child must be made to care
Care enough for his fellow man
To give all the love that he can

I pray my wish will come true
For my child and your child too
He’ll see the day of glory
See the day when men of good will
Live in peace, live in peace again

Peace on earth, can it be
Can it be

Christmas Carol Countdown-Day 9

Day 9: Christmastime by The Smashing Pumpkins

No, it’s not a cover of the Charlie Brown Christmas song. Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins actually wrote this particular song for A Very Special Christmas, Vol 3. These albums are Christmas compilations that benefit the Special Olympics. There are many gems to be found on them and this is one of my favorites. This song captures the magic of being a little kid anxiously waiting for Christmas morning and the joy that parents have watching them. The instrumental opening is perfectly Christmassy, and the melody is quite pretty.

Christmastime by The Smashing Pumpkins

We watch the children playing
Beside the Christmas tree
Presents are wrapped up, it’s beautiful
And secretly the gifts you’ll hide
The fun awaits for you inside

Christmastime has come
There’ll be toys for everyone
‘Cause Christmastime has come for you

I remember dreaming
Wishing, hoping, praying for this day
Now I sit and watch them
The little ones I love
So excited by the way

Christmastime has come
There’ll be toys for everyone
‘Cause Christmastime has come for you

And now the word is given
It’s time to peek inside
It’s time to let the toys out
So anxious for your look of joy and delight
The waiting for just your surprise

Christmastime has come
There’ll be toys for everyone
‘Cause Christmastime has come for you

Christmastime has come
There’ll be toys for everyone
‘Cause Christmastime has come for you
For you

Christmas Carol Countdown-Day 8

Day 8: Snow by Irving Berlin, from White Christmas

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is one of the most beloved Christmas movies of all time. There are many great songs featured in this movie, but very few of them include a Christmas theme, so White Christmas is usually the only song to get airplay. My personal favorite song from the movie is Snow. It captures the childish excitement that we all had at one time when we heard there was snow in the forecast.  As adults who have jobs to get to, pavements to shovel, and cars to dig out, we often moan and groan about impending snow.  Still, when you have nowhere to go and nothing to do, nothing beats the beauty of a freshly fallen, sparkling blanket of snow.  Sit back, relax, and let Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen remind you of everything that is awesome about snow.


Snow

Snow, it won’t be long before we’ll all be there with snow
Snow, I want to wash my hands, my face and hair with snow

Snow, I long to clear a path and lift a spade of snow
Snow, oh, to see a great big man entirely made of snow

Where it’s snowing
All winter through
That’s where I want to be
Snowball throwing
That’s what I’ll do
How I’m longing to ski
Through the

Snow, those glist’ning houses that seem to be built of snow
Snow, oh, to see a mountain covered with a quilt of snow

What is Christmas with no snow
No white Christmas with no snow
Snow

I’ll soon be there with snow
I’ll wash my hair with snow
And with a spade of snow
I’ll build a man that’s made of snow
I’d love to stay up with you but I recommend a little shuteye
Go to sleep
And dream
Of snow, snow, snow, snow, snow

Christmas Carol Countdown- Day 6

Day 6: This Christmas I Spend With You by Robert Goulet

As often happens with my husband and me, what once started as a joke grew into a genuine appreciation for a crooner. (This has also happened with Tom Jones and Michael Buble). Like many people of my generation, I was not familiar with Robert Goulet until Will Ferrell starting spoofing him on Saturday Night Live. Once again I have the Music Choice Sounds of the Season channel to thank for stoking my interest in the actual man. This Christmas I Spend With You came on the channel last year, and I thought to myself, “Hey, that sounds like Will Ferrell doing his Robert Goulet impression.” To my surprise, it actually was THE Robert Goulet! I decided to buy Goulet’s album A Personal Christmas Collection for my husband as a stocking stuffer. Great minds think alike because that same Christmas, he got me an old Goulet album from a blowout sale at a local record shop. This Christmas I Spend with You is the first song on the album and it’s my favorite. I can’t help but picture Will Ferrell as I listen to Goulet over enunciate words. The line “So ring bells, goooo and ring ’em! Riiiiiiing bells! Biiiig bells, little bells, jingle bells..” in particular always makes me smile. This year, the added element of expecting our little bundle of joy in time for Christmas has given me a slightly new perspective on the song, too.  This song has quickly become a Christmas classic for me.

 

This Christmas I Spend With You

Mark this holiday
Mark it well
Note how perfectly
Right it fell

Yes, it’s Christmas
But something is new
Because this Christmas I spend with you

Mark the stardust upon my sleeve
Note this feeling of Christmas Eve
Thanks to heaven the best is in view
Because this Christmas I spend with you

So ring bells
Go and ring ’em
Ring bells
Big bells, little bells, jingle bells
Ring bells
Tell them to …

Mark this holiday
For my own
Note this Christmas I’m not alone
All my wishes at last have come true
Because this Christmas, I spend with you

Christmas Carol Countdown-Day 5

Day 5: O Holy Night by *NSYNC

We’re getting serious again here on Day 5. Back in the late ‘90s, I was firmly caught up in the boy band craze, and *NSYNC was without question my boy band of choice.  In 1998 they released a Christmas album, Home for Christmas. It played non-stop in my Sony Discman that Christmas season. It’s actually a pretty good album and I still listen to it every year.  One of the things that always set *NSYNC apart from some of the other groups was their true musicality. Those boys could actually sing, and they made beautiful harmonies together. One of the finest examples is their A Capella rendition of O Holy Night. It’s probably my favorite version of this traditional song. You can really hear each voice shine in the arrangement. They performed the song live a few times as well, proving that it wasn’t just studio magic that made them sound that good.  Beautiful stuff.

O Holy Night

O holy night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
The thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O  hear the angel voices
O  night…divine
O  night when Christ was born
O holy night
O  night divine
O  holy night
O  night divine

The thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

Fall on your knees
O  hear the angel voices
O  night…divine
O  night when Christ was born
O  night divine
O  night divine

O  holy night
O  night divine

O  holy night when Christ was born
Holy night when Christ was born

Christmas Carol Countdown- Day 4

Day 4: The Season’s Upon Us– Dropkick Murphys

Today we take a turn from the sentimental and saccharine, and embrace the wacky and off-color. There has always been room for non-traditional novelty Christmas songs (Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, anyone?) but so far, this two-year-old song hasn’t been embraced by the mainstream Christmas radio stations. It does, however, get some play closer to Christmas on our local alternative music station. OK, so it has two lower level “curse words” and deals with some heavier material than your typical Christmas carol, but it’s a rollicking four minutes, it makes me laugh, and it deserves a wider audience. I’d rather chuckle every hour on the hour than get all weepy-eyed at “Christmas Shoes.” While I personally don’t have a dysfunctional family, I know plenty of people who do, and I think they would appreciate this ode to crazy families.

The Season’s Upon Us
The season’s upon us, it’s that time of year
Brandy and eggnog, there’s plenty of cheer
There’s lights on the trees and there’s wreaths to be hung
There’s mischief and mayhem and songs to be sung

There’s bells and there’s holly, the kids are gung-ho
True loves finds a kiss beneath fresh mistletoe
Some families are messed up while others are fine
If you think yours is crazy, well you should see mine

My sisters are wackjobs, I wish I had none
Their husbands are losers and so are their sons
My nephew’s a horrible, wise little twit
He once gave me a nice gift wrapped box full of sh!@

He likes to pelt carolers with icy snowballs
I’d like to take him out back and deck more than the halls
With family like this I would have to confess
I’d be better off lonely, distraught, and depressed

The season’s upon us, it’s that time of year
Brandy and eggnog, there’s plenty of cheer
There’s lights on the trees and there’s wreaths to be hung
There’s mischief and mayhem and songs to be sung
They call this Christmas where I’m from

My mom likes to cook, push our buttons, and prod
My brother just brought home another big broad
The eyes rollin’ whispers come loud from the kitchen
I’d come home more often if they’d only quit b!tchin’

Dad on the other hand’s a selfish old sod
Drinks whiskey alone with my miserable dog
Who won’t run off fetch sure he couldn’t care less
He defiled my teddy bear and left me the mess

The season’s upon us, it’s that time of year
Brandy and eggnog, there’s plenty of cheer
There’s lights on the trees and there’s wreaths to be hung
There’s mischief and mayhem and songs to be sung
They call this Christmas where I’m from

The table’s set, we raise a toast
The father, son, and the Holy Ghost
I’m so glad this day only comes once a year
You can keep your opinions, your presents, your happy new year
They call this Christmas where I’m from
They call this Christmas where I’m from

Christmas Carol Countdown-Day 3

Day 3: Some Children See Him

Written by Alfred Burt and Wihla Hutson

I was not familiar with this song until a few weeks ago. I actually heard it for the first time on the Music Choice Sounds of the Season channel on cable TV, which seems to play more of a variety of music than the local radio stations. I was immediately taken by the haunting melody and the message of the song. It embraces the innocence of children, and how they picture Jesus in their mind’s eye. Much has been made over time over what “color” Jesus really was, but in the end, it doesn’t matter; all that matters is the message of love.

The history of the Alfred Burt carols is interesting. At the request of his father, Burt inherited the tradition of composing a Christmas Carol each year for the family Christmas cards. Some Children See Him was the carol for 1951. I’ve spent some time listening to many different versions, and I think I like Andy Williams’ the best. Something about the timbre and emotion of his voice sets it apart from the other versions. As a bonus, I’m also including a version recorded by Rivers Cuomo of Weezer. He felt compelled to cover the song after he overheard his daughter practicing it for her choir.

 Some Children See Him

Some children see Him lily white,
The baby Jesus born this night.
Some children see Him lily white,
With tresses soft and fair.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
The Lord of heav’n to earth come down.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
With dark and heavy hair.

Some children see Him almond-eyed,
This Savior whom we kneel beside.
Some children see Him almond-eyed,
With skin of yellow hue.
Some children see Him dark as they,
Sweet Mary’s Son to whom we pray.
Some children see him dark as they,
And, ah! They love Him, too!

The children in each different place
Will see the baby Jesus’ face
Like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace,
And filled with holy light.
O lay aside each earthly thing
and with thy heart as offering,
come worship now the infant King.
‘Tis love that’s born tonight!