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Category Archives: christmas

2008 Music Maven Christmas Playlist

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Hope you all have a very safe and Merry Christmas and a most blessed New Year.  To assist in your merriment, here’s my annual Christmas playlist…a little old school.

Grown Up Christmas List —  Michael Buble’

Let it Snow – John Legend

Away in a Manger  –  Ella Fitzgerald

Santa Clause is Coming to Town — Bing Crosby

Christmas Waltz — Frank Sinatra

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Me — Stevie Wonder

Go Tell it on the Mountain — Mahalia Jackson

We Three Kings — George Strait

The Christmas Blues — Dean Martin

Winter Wonderland — Tony Bennett

Do You Hear What I Hear?  — Perry Como

Celebrate Me Home — Kenny Loggins

Silent Night – Elvis Presley

Run, Run Rudolph — Keith Richards

Christmas Auld Lang Syne – Bobby Darin

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Barenaked Ladies & Sarah McLachlen

Little Drummer Boy — Bob Seger

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas — Judy Garland

Jingle Bells — Sinatra & Crosby

O Come, O Come Emmanuel — Enya

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2008 in christmas, holidays, music maven

 

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Let it Sneaux….

With the uncommon events of last week where parts of the Deep South (sans Mobile, AL and MM Central) were turned into a Winter Wonderland, I thought it appropriate to explore the wonderful Christmas tuneage of Let it Snow.

But first, check out these photos of Louisiana’s “Blizzard of ’08″.

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Saints Sneauxman

 

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It never rains in Tiger Stadium...but sneaux?

 

Good thing Mike is a SIBERIAN Tiger

Good thing Mike is a SIBERIAN Tiger

 

The holiday staple, Let it Snow was written in 1945 by the dynamic songwriting duo of Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne.  Cahn had a direct pipeline to the Chairman of the Board, one Mr. Frank Sinatra.  However, Sinatra was not the first to record Let it Snow.  The first time Let it Snow registered as a hit was 1946 by Vaughn Monroe:

However, most associate that the cozy carol was first made popular by Ole Blue Eyes:

Francis’ old buddy, Dean Martin is frequently a part of the traditional Christmas playlist:

As for Music Maven favorites of Let it Snow:
  Harry Connick, Jr.

  Aaron Neville

  Michael Buble’

  John Legend

 

Weather Forecast for Mobile, AL today: 
High – 74     Low –  55     Heavy Fog

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2008 in christmas, lsu stadium, weather event

 

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A WONDERful Christmas Time…

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Sorry for being so absent lately.  Not that there’s not alot of music thoughts going through my head, it’s just that something has to give, sometime.  With work, hauling down the decorations, decorating, gift searching, gift buying, gift wrapping, cleaning, cooking, college searching, and the various asundry tasks on my To Do list, that there is no “free time” to write the type of meaningful posts that I like to do.  And, after all, I can’t give up “The Midgets” on Monday night or Biggest Loser on Tuesday or the host of mindless crap (a quote from my husband) that I consider valued entertainment after 5 p.m.  Truth is, after a long day, all I want is mindless crap, but that’s another topic for another day.

While I’ve been busy, I haven’t been void of music and of course my FAVORITE genre of Christmas music.  We officially kicked off the Holiday season with some festive tunes on our drive back to Alabama from Louisiana after Thanksgiving and each day, I’ve been sampling my vast Christmas collection and compiling my list for the 2nd Annual Music Maven Christmas Playlist.  Be on the lookout over the next week or so for that compilation of Christmas goodness.

I’ve always LOVED Stevie Wonder’s Christmas music, particularly What Christmas Means to Me.  It just gets me in the right Christmas spirit and is such a happy song.  And, the other night, I was watching the movie This Christmas and heard an old familiar Wonder song that I hadn’t thought of in a long, long time.

The WONDERfulness of Twinkle, Twinkle is the fact that just like the Christmas season it’s joyful, melancoly, introspective and warm….just one of the great tunes of Stevie’s enduring Christmas repetoire.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Me is one of those soulful songs of the period when a plethora of non-traditional Christmas music was introduced, capturing the spirit of Christmas in new ways.  In 1967, Little Stevie Wonder having just dropped the “Little” and fresh off of hits like FingerTips, Uptight (It’s Alright), A Place in the Sun  and For Once in My Life, Wonder released an epic Christmas compilation, Someday at Christmas and Twinkle, Twinkle was one of the hidden gems on this wonderful collection of the man entering his heyday. 

Someday at Christmas is a mix of traditional and non-traditional Christmas songs and was released right after Thanksgiving in ’67 and was, no doubt, well-received.  However, I don’t recall hearing much of Stevie’s Christmas music until I was an adult and largely through movie soundtracks.  That’s how I got turned on to What Christmas Means to Me, the anchor song on Someday at Christmas.

This song always puts me in such a festive mood.  The kind of Risky Business, Tom Cruise in tighty whities, sock sliding across the floor in sunglasses, strummin’ air guitar kind of mood.  It is one of my absolute favorite Christmas PARTY songs.

But, Someday at Christmas has a little something for everyone and is a superbly well-rounded record, particularly for a specialty CD.  But then, it IS Stevie Wonder, after all.  A Warm Little Home on the Hill and Bedtime for Toys bring a sweetness and longing for family, home and hearth.  A new find that I am particularly enjoying this year is The Day That Love Began, which is a combination of doo-wop, Motown, and classic Wonder:

I like that one almost as much as the inspiring, soulful One Little Christmas Tree.  (NOTE:  The video for One Little Christmas Tree was pulled off of YouTube, so the others may vanish, as well…another subject for another post.)

Of course, Stevie doesn’t stray too far away from the standards with traditional takes on The Christmas Song, Silver Bells, Ave Maria, and The Little Drummer Boy…all of which are superbly sublime.

If you’re looking to expand your Christmas collection, Stevie Wonder’s Someday at Christmas CD is a “must have”.  Unfortunately, the original album/compilation is no longer available, but fear not…all songs from this CD, plus a couple more are available on iTunes and Amazon via 20th Century Masters under The Christmas Collection: Stevie Wonder.

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Click here to order from iTunes.

Many times, when I’m doing research for these posts, I find unanticipated nuggets.  This time, I found a wonderful cover of Someday at Christmas, by a very talented young man named Justin Bieber:

Just goes to show that good music endures.  BTW, Stevie Wonder re-released For Once in My Life as a single this past Monday…40 years after original release. 

Everything old is new again. 

 

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O Holy Night

I have to say that I’ve really tried to get back to the real meaning of Christmas, this year and to not expect too much in terms of having the house be perfect or extravagant gifts for everyone. Much of the stress of Christmas is caused by wanting everything to run like clockwork and all to be perfection….and, as we know, it never is. Therefore, we’re forever set-up for disappointment.

Tonight, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and ask a simple favor. Simply enjoy those you are with. Have the old folks tell you some stories about when they grew up, ask your significant other to share a Christmas memory that they haven’t told you before and have a child tell you their favorite part of Christmas and, most importantly, share some of yourself with them. After all, Christmas is the season of giving.

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. Simply put, this celebration is about love and sharing love. That’s it. As plain and basic as that. God gave His only Son so that we could be redeemed, because he loved us. In that same vein, the greatest gift that we can give others is our love. I know that many people are not self-proclaimed “religious”, but we all love our family and friends. Regardless of your religious affiliation, you don’t have to go to church to observe the real meaning of Christmas.

I identified with a very poignant article in this Sunday’s Mobile Press-Register about the first Christmas and the imperfectness of that “perfect” birth. It got me thinking about Christmas and the season and today it has me reflecting on Mary and what her experience must have been like. Considering that she would have been about 15, I can’t imagine the immense burden and pressure she must have felt all those years ago.

In 1994, I was fortunate to take the trip of a lifetime with all of Mr. D’s brothers and sisters and his parents to Israel. We visited Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity. We went down to the grotto where Christ is believed to have been born. It was a profoundly spiritual event and with a three year old at the time, I had extreme empathy for Mary and her situation. Although her situation was anything but perfect, she perservered and went on to do her duty for her son and to her God. In her honor, here are some Christmas songs to pay homage to the Virgin Mary:

Mary’s Boy Child, Tom Jones

Mary, Did You Know, Mark Lowry

O Holy Night, Martina McBride

Silent Night (in the Irish), Enya

Ave Maria, Bobby McFerrin

Away in a Manger, Celtic Woman

Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Jewel

Merry Christmas. For those of you visiting with family, I hope that you thoroughly enjoy each others’ company and make beautiful new memories. For those of you who are, like me, separated from your extended family this Christmas, I’ll keep you in my prayers.

Epilogue: You know, God really has a sense of irony and humor. Before I could finish up this post and get it out there, I had a major kitchen crisis. At 4:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, my kitchen sink backed up. Of course, I had been cooking a ham and potato salad for tonight and the kitchen sink was full of dishes. It took every fiber of my being to remain calm and remember that this Christmas wouldn’t be perfect, but I didn’t need to let this little speed bump ruin the evening and our Christmas.

We called Roto-Rooter and they sent a very nice young man out who fixed our problem, rendering us functional again. Because of our sudden emergency, we modified our plans a bit. Earlier in the day, I came across the old videos of our kids when they, and we, were ALOT younger. So, for this Christmas Eve, we’re settling in, in front of a nice warm fire to watch our memories. Maybe God knows what he’s doing, after all.

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2007 in christmas, that's life

 

Christmas Playlists

It’s the most wonderful time of the year….

time for CHRISTMAS MUSIC!!!!

I admit it. I’m a Christmas Music obsessive-compulsive. I have hundreds, if not thousands, of Christmas songs on my iPod. Every year, I pick 20 or so songs and create a mixed CD to give to friends and family. They tell me that they wait each year for my compilation. So, here is 2007′s version.

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(Links to YouTube provided, where available.)

1. Christmas - Blues Traveler 5:47

2. O Holy NightTracey Chapman 3:28

3. I BelieveFrank Sinatra 2:34

4. This Time of YearBrooks Benton 2:30

5. We Call It ChristmasKeb ‘Mo 3:40

6. All I Want For Christmas is YouMariah Carey 4:03

7. Must Have Been Ole Santa Clause – Delbert McClinton 4:40

8. The Little Drummer Boy - Lou Rawls 3:01

9. A Marshmallow WorldDean Martin & Frank Sinatra 2:19

10. His Will Was DoneLee Ann Womack 3:42

11. Don’t Save It All (For Xmas Day)Celine Dion 4:38

12. Baby Jesus is Born Garth Brooks 3:59

13. Christmas Mem’riesBarbra Streisand 4:47

14. Happy ChristmasJimmy Buffett 5:44

15. Holly Leaves & Xmas Trees – Elvis Presley 2:14

16. Such a NightAaron Neville 3:24

17. O Christmas Tree­ – Aretha Franklin 3:34

18. Santa Clause is Back in TownJonny Lang 4:20

19. Please Come Home for XmasCharles Brown 2:50

20. Merry Christmas, Baby - Otis Redding 2:34

Now, ma sistah from anutha mistah, the great and all powerful, Shrew, is also a Christmas music junkie, and come to find out she also produces a Christmas mix each year. Here is this years effort, entitled Comfort & Joy.

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Angels We have Heard on High ~ The Roches

The Land Of Christmas ~ Carly Simon

The Christmas Song ~ Diana Krall

Darlin’ (Christmas Is Coming) ~ Over The Rhine

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen ~ The Roches

Mele Kalikimaka ~ KT Tunstall

Frosty’s Rag ~ Anita Baker

Winter Wonderland ~ The Roches

We’re Going To Pull Through ~ Over The Rhine

I Like A Sleighride ~ Peggy Lee

Deck The Halls ~ The Roches

Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep ~ Diana Krall

Christmastime Is Here ~ Nancy Wilson

The Man With The Bag ~ Kay Starr

Song At Midnight ~ Peggy Lee

Old Landmark ~ Aretha Franklin

Shrew’s playlist has more obscure songs, so I couldn’t find any on YouTube. You’ll just have to ferret out those on your own. I reckon iTunes is good place to start.

These are some great new finds from Shrew, and I’m always looking for more.

So, how about you? Give me your Christmas song playlist. Twenty of your favorites that you like to share.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2007 in christmas

 

An Aaron Neville Christmas

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While I wish the secret Santa would have been Van the Man, we got the next best thing. One of my favorites…

Aaron Neville. Joined by his little big brother, Charles and his Quintet. At the beautiful Saenger Theatre in Mobile, Alabama.

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We were on the third row just right of center in a full house. The opening act was a local public high school choir, LeFlore Preparatory.

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They were very good and quite moving. Their opening number was a very spirited African song that really set the positive tone of the evening.

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They featured several solos that were all simply lovely. It was really quite inspiring to watch these enthusiastic, young people obviously committed to music.

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After an hour, the announcer came out and welcomed Aaron Neville. Now, Aaron is a literal mountain of a man. At 66, he is buff and looks a full 25 years younger.

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He opened with I Don’t Know Much and thanked his duet partner on that song, Linda Ronstadt, at its conclusion. Next came Stand By Me and Ain’t No Sunshine. In doing a little pre-concert research, I found out that these two songs, in particular had become special prayers for Aaron Neville.

Our local paper had a write up on the Aaron Neville concert on Friday. In that article, Aaron stated that this mini-tour was helping him get over the loss of his wife of 48 years to lung cancer last January. I had no idea.

Aaron Neville married Joel Roux (pronounced Jo-el) in 1959 when she was 18 and he was 17. His mother actually signed their marriage license because he was not of legal age. Through substance abuse, a prison stint, a rollercoaster career and four children, Joel was his best friend. He credits her with saving his life by throwing him out in the early years of their marriage and calls her his backbone. Dedicated Catholics, they both credited prayer and St. Jude with saving Aaron and turning their lives around.

Their life was anything but easy. Even after his 1966 hit, Tell It Like It Is, wealth and fame were illusive. Aaron supported his family by working the docks at the Port of New Orleans. Eventually, he started a band with his brothers and concentrated on the funky, back beat music of the Mardi Gras Indians, which is part of his heritage. His Warm Your Heart album was wildly successful as a solo effort and life got a lot easier for the Neville family.

Joel finally retired from her 20-year career at Charity Hospital of New Orleans and joined Aaron as informal Ambassadors for New Orleans and found a special place in the music industry with the fabulous rhythms of the Neville family, including The Meters, the Wild Tchoupitoulas, and of course, The Neville Brothers Band. All was really good until 2004, when Joel was diagnosed with lung cancer. Through prayer, radiation and chemotherapy, she went into remission. And then…Hurricane Katrina.

Aaron and Joel Neville lost their home and all of their possessions, as did many of their family. Aaron was in New York, on tour, when Katrina hit and has gone to New Orleans only once since the storm — to bury his dear wife. He has an asthma condition now that he feels would be exacerbated by living in New Orleans and the unknown environmental hazards that may be lurking. He also didn’t want to risk Joel’s fragile health by being in such a risky environment. However, he never abandoned New Orleans and has done dozens of benefit concerts to raise money for musicians and the people of the city, at large.

In November, the Nevilles announced that they will be back to play the 2008 JazzFest in April. It is a long awaited return that many residents view as a milestone in the recovery. It should be quite a joyous occasion, however I’m sure that for Aaron it will provide a stinging reminder of loss and what is missing. Great and enduring loves — particularly those who overcome adversity and trials — generally leave a gaping void when one is gone and the other is left to carry on.

While it was thrilling to see Aaron Neville on Sunday night, there was a certain pall and sadness to him. In particular, when he sang Amazing Grace….

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Now, Aaron makes no bones about his faith. He’s Catholic to the core. He’s tatted up with crucifixes (including one on his cheek) and the face of Jesus on his huge bicep. He wears a St. Jude medal for an earring as a simple reminder of how a “hopeless case” can be redeemed.

I know the feeling.

However, my symbol is a little bigger and has more attitude. He had on a crucifix necklace as well as a rosary and an Our Lady of Guadalupe t-shirt. Being Catholic ourselves, we totally get Big Aaron. He’s thankful to God for saving his life and uses these outward symbols to proclaim his love of Christ to the world…and to maybe influence others in need. Perhaps that’s why is his music is so particularly lovely.

He sang for over two hours and didn’t clutter the performance with much chatter at all. He just really went to work and gave us great music. A few of the highlights:

Tell It Like It Is

It’s Alright

Please Come Home for Christmas

Silent Night

A Change Gonna Come

O Holy Night

Here are a few pictures I took from the show:

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After the show, Big Mike, the keyboardist was out at the front of the stage talking to folks. Mr. D. had bought a fleur de lis Aaron Neville hat before the concert to support New Orleans and the re-building (because we’re loyal like dat) and we asked Mike if he could get Aaron to sign it. He said sure and got Jason the Roadie to go back stage. Within two minutes, we had our keepsake.

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Guess Who?….

Went to a great concert last night….more to come.

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10 Comments

Posted by on December 10, 2007 in christmas, Concerts

 

Christmas Carol Kun-NECK-shun, Part Deux

The last kun-NECK-shun ended with Barenaked Ladies and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

kun-NECK-shun: The Barenaked Ladies released a single in 1998 called Brian Wilson, about a guy whose life parallels the life of The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson. The Beach Boys released a Christmas album in 1964 with an original first track, entitled Little Saint Nick, done in typical Beach Boy style:

Little St. Nick

kun-NECK-shun: The Beach Boys covered one of my favorite Stevie Wonder hits, I Was Made to Love You, on their Wild Honey album in 1967. The same year, Stevie introduced a Christmas song of his own, What Christmas Means to Me. I absolutely LOVE this song. It is one of my absolute favorite Christmas songs and gets me movin’ and groovin’.

What Christmas Means to Me

kun-NECK-shun: The incomparable Stevie Wonder wrote and produced Til You Come Back to Me for the divine Aretha Franklin. Aretha was a very good friend of Billy Preston of Get Back fame. Here is Ree Ree doing one of the loveliest Christmas ballads ever, O Holy Night, accompanied by Mr. Billy Preston:

Link to Youtube —->            O Holy Night

kun-NECK-shun: Aretha’s legendary Live at the Fillmore West album from her San Fransico concert in 1971 included a spirited appearance by Ray Charles who sang a reprise of Spirit in the Dark with The Queen of Soul. One of Ray’s best Christmas songs is Baby, It’s Cold Outside with Betty Carter:

Baby, It’s Cold Outside (with Betty Carter)

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2007 in christmas, holidays, kun-neck-shuns

 

Christmas Carol Kun-NECK-shun

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…..hope you like the Christmas decorations.To appropriately ring in the Christmas season, I’m starting a new feature. Every couple of days, I’m going to feature Christmas Carols with their associated kun-NECK-shuns. I hope you enjoy it and the season.

Here is Sir Paul McCartney to kick us off…

Wonderful Christmas Time

Released in 1979, Wonderful Christmas Time, was offered as a bonus track on Wings’ Back to the Egg album. The “B-side” of this single is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reggae. Shortly after this release, McCartney was arrested in Tokyo for traveling with a 1/2 lb. of marijuana and spent 10 days in jail.

kun-NECK-shun: Of course, Paul was one of The Beatles and the writing partner of John Lennon. Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote Happy Christmas in October of 1971 and although it was released for Christmas in 1971, it didn’t receive any significant attention until it was re-released in December, 1980, shortly after John Lennon was killed.

Happy Christmas (The War is Over)

kun-NECK-shun: The Beatles’ created and performed on the Apple label. They also signed, recorded and produced other artists. Among the artists that were part of the Apple label in 1969 was one, James Taylor.

JT does a wonderful rendition of Go Tell it on the Mountain, an old African-American Spiritual from 1865.

Go Tell it on the Mountain

kun-NECK-shun: James Taylor is a close friend of Joni Mitchell, who wrote River — beautifully covered by Sara McLachlan.

River

Originally included on Mitchell’s watershed album, Blue, River evoked memories of Joni’s Canadian winters as she reflected upon them from her sunny California home. Bonus kun-NECK-shun: Stephen Stills and James Taylor performed on the Blue album.

kun-NECK-shun: Sara McLachlan recorded the traditional God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen with Barenaked Ladies.


More to come……….

 
14 Comments

Posted by on December 2, 2007 in christmas, holidays, kun-neck-shuns

 
 
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