More Requests for Your Carolers

 

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So, about this time a year ago, I shared a list of some of my favorite renditions of Christmas tunes; some familiar, others, less so.

Well, here’s a few more of my favorites for you to check out. Enjoy:

Don’t Save It All for Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, Céline Dion. The first one, a reminder to keep the Christmas spirit alive year round; the second, an uptempo love song about spending a special night with your special someone.

I’m also including The Prayer, by Céline Dion and Andrea Bocelli. Even though it’s technically not a Christmas song, it’s included on Céline’s holiday CD, These Are Special Times. But, everybody deserves to hear these two sing together. Andrea is, for my money, the greatest vocalist in the world, and the note he holds at the end of this piece is absolutely breathtaking.

Run Rudolph Run (live), Bryan Adams. Bryan does this Chuck Berry classic justice.

Jingle Bell Rock, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Everybody knows the Bobby Helms rendition, but this instrumental take is a lot more fun.

‘Zat You, Santa Claus?, Louis Armstrong and the Commanders. Louis gets an unexpected visitor one night. Who might it be? Hmmm…

Someday at Christmas, Stevie Wonder. This song was originally released in 1967, but its message is as timely as ever, which means, unfortunately, Someday hasn’t arrived yet.

Louisiana Christmas Day, Aaron Neville. A little zydeco music for Christmas. It’ll get your feet movin’.

The Twelve Days of Christmas (live), The Christmas Can-Can, Straight No Chaser. Two hilarious tunes by this men’s à capella group.

Christmas is Just Around the Corner, Barry Manillow. Barry knows how to deliver a happy tune, and this one about anticipation of the Big Day is yet another example.

Silver Bells, Kenny G. Jazzy instrumental version, with Kenny G.’s smooth sax out front.

Please Come Home for Christmas, Eagles. Fellow Texan Don Henley gives this one the proper blues treatment.

All I Want for Christmas Is You, Vince Vance and the Valiants. Country Christmas ballad featuring terrific lead vocals by Lisa Layne.

All I Want for Christmas Is You, Mariah Carey. Yeah, this is the one we all know. Mariah rocks it.

Little Saint Nick, The Beach Boys. Because, after all, it just ain’t Christmas without The Beach Boys, am I right?

O Holy Night, anybody. Best sacred Christmas number of them all.

 

There you are. Enjoy the music you love with the people you love this holiday season. Season’s Eatings, um, Greetings. Peace and love to you all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Here!

MEEEEEERRRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!

Whatever holiday you celebrate, wherever you are, I wish you the best one ever!!

Thank all of you so much for looking in on my blog this year. I hope you liked what you read. And even if you didn’t, thanks for visiting, anyway.

All best wishes for the year ahead. Blessings on all of you.

Later, y’all.

The Biggest Christmas Gift


They said there’ll be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on Earth
Hallelujah Noel be it Heaven or Hell
The Christmas we get we deserve

“I Believe in Father Christmas”, Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Songwriters
GREG LAKE, PETER JOHN SINFIELD, SERGE PROKOFIEFF

Published By
Lyrics © Peermusic Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group, MUSIC SALES CORPORATION

 

Peace on Earth.

What a deceptively simple concept.

All the people of the world, living together in harmony and bliss. No fighting, no bullets, no bombs, no dead warriors, no bereaved families, no lying governments. (In this case, at least.)

It’s a concept many of us don’t even think about until this time of year. For much of the world, war is as much a part of our daily routine as breathing, whether observed from a distance or experienced firsthand. War is just another fact of life, and we tacitly accept it.

Then, our minds get pumped with almost nonstop Christmas music, from every store and every radio station, and we get a barrage of Christmas movies and TV specials, and everyone’s heart softens a bit. We gush about what a wonderful time of year it is and, by Jiminy, why can’t it be this way all the time? Why can’t we all be kinder to each other? Why can’t we show more charity to our fellow man?

Why can’t we have peace on earth?

If only the answer was that simple.

 

It’s not my intent here to debate the causes for war, or its reasons, or its inevitability, or its morality.

There are many facets of war about which many of us disagree, but I would think, and I would hope, that we could all agree on this: war is overwhelmingly, unbearably, heartbreakingly sad, due to the terribly high cost of human lives it always exacts.

And to our stubborn refusal to ever, ever learn from it.

 

We can all wish for peace, we can pray for it, we can sing for it, we can petition for it, and we should do all those things, as long as we have to.

But tonight, when I go to sleep, I’m going to close my eyes, and dream of it.

And what a beautiful dream it will be.

As the song goes, “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.”

Merry Christmas, everyone. Love and peace to you all.

 

The Scary Guy in the Red Suit

 

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I don’t know how many of you ever had the distinct privilege of sitting in Santa Claus’ lap to tell him what to bring you for Christmas, (yes, tell, don’t ask) but trust me, it is an experience you will remember all your life.

Unfortunately for me.

 

Let’s face it, meeting Santa Claus is a bucket list event for any kid. I mean, we all write our letters to him, asking for what we want, (or maybe, email these days, I don’t know) but to get to meet the Big Kahuna in person??

Oh…WOW!!! Makes me nearly faint just thinking about it.

Just go to the mall, and spend some time around Santa, and you watch how many kids stand in line, accompanied by their harried, stressed-out parents, waiting for their turn with the Big Man. I mean, who knows when he’ll get around to reading your letter; here’s your chance to tell Mr. Claus directly. Big time-saver.

So, here I was, on my way to Leonard’s Department Store, in downtown Fort Worth, for my close encounter of the Santa kind. To describe me as excited that day would be an understatement. I was charged up, folks. I was ready for this; I had waited for this day my whole life. (I think I was about five.) I was even dressed up for it, in my finest gift-begging suit. With my hair perfectly combed, wearing my best cologne, breath mint in pocket, I knew I had this.

Claus, you’re mine!

 

So, I stood in line with the other kids, waiting patiently (not) for my turn. As I waited, I enthusiastically recited to Mom and Dad my entire request list. I don’t recall how long it was, but come on, I was a kid; you think it was just gonna be two or three items? No, sir, no Toy Express Lane for this guy.

But as I stood there, a curious thing happened. My parents noticed, the further up I moved in line, the less talking I did, and my excitement seemed to morph into trepidation, which then crossed over to fear. 😬😲

I don’t really have an explanation for what happened. I can only speculate in hindsight, the closer I got to the man, the more intimidating he looked to me. After all, I was meeting him for the first time, and we weren’t even properly introduced. I was simply picked up and set in the guy’s lap, for Pete’s sake. This scary fellow with the long hair and the long beard and the red suit and the prominent gut. I didn’t care that he was probably some poor store employee who got roped into this gig, and would rather have been off somewhere else, hitting the eggnog with an elf or two.

No, all I knew in that moment was, I don’t like this person. And so, from the time I was placed in his lap until the time I was removed from it, Santa Claus might as well have been sitting there holding a stuffed animal.

I didn’t speak. I didn’t move. I may not have even breathed.

I was frozen solid, a Rock of Gibraltar. You could have busted up concrete with me.

There’s photographic evidence somewhere of this incident, but ain’t none of you ever gonna see it, that’s for sure. Let’s just pretend it looks like this:

 

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So, I rode back home with my head hung in shame. I had my shot and I wasted it. A tragic event, one that would undoubtedly keep me in therapy for life.

You know what, though? Turns out, I didn’t need to tell him a thing.

Because, come Christmas Day, I still got what I wanted. Cool, right? 😏

Now, kids, I’m not saying that’ll happen to you, too. You’d better talk to Santa, if you get a chance, just to cover your bases.

He’s probably not really that scary.

Some Requests for Your Carolers

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You know, in reality, there are only about four Christmas songs, but approximately 8,463.75 renditions of them. 🎶🎵

Everybody records them. In fact, Izzy and Lizzy, my cats, have a new album coming out later this week: “We Need a Little Christmas Meow.” Look for it. 🐱

Anyway, we all have our favorite songs, and our favorite performances, that we simply must hear every year, don’t we? For example, I’ll take Elvis Presley’s covers of “Blue Christmas” and “Here Comes Santa Claus” over anyone’s.

Of course, that applies to least favorites, as well. I’m a lifelong Johnny Cash fan, but if I ever hear his version of “The Little Drummer Boy” again, I will not be responsible for my reaction. 🥁 😡

With that in mind, I’d like to tell you some of my favorite performances of my favorite Christmas tunes, and then take you a little off the beaten path and introduce you to some songs/renditions I enjoy, but you may not be familiar with.

But I’ll start with a classic, and my all-time favorite:

The Christmas Song, Nat King Cole. If I could only listen to one Christmas tune, by one person, for the rest of my life, this would be my choice, without hesitation.

White Christmas, The Drifters. Yeah, Bing Crosby’s version is the prototype, but once you hear the Drifters do it, you won’t want to hear it any other way.

Santa Baby, Madonna. Eartha Kitt’s version is so slow, I could have a nap before she finishes. 🎅🏻💍💋

I’ll Be Home For Christmas, Glen Campbell. You can just hear the longing to be home in his voice.

Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer, The Blenders. A lively a capella version, like the doo-wop boys on the corner would do it.

The Little Drummer Boy, Silent Night, O Come, All Ye Faithful, The Vocal Majority, a Dallas-based, 100-voice men’s chorus. Google ‘em, they’re outstanding.

Christmas Island, Leon Redbone. 🏝 A perfect song for a performer so laid back, his pulse rate must be about 10.

Merry Christmas, Darling, Carpenters. Karen Carpenter was graced with one of the most beautiful voices ever, and she left us way, way too soon. But she did leave us this holiday gem. That last line, “I wish I were with you,” always chokes me up; I wish she was with us, too.

Grown Up Christmas List, Amy Grant. Great lyrics, great melody, great vocals.

Christmas Wrapping, The Waitresses. More rapping than wrapping, a peppy little tune that tells a story beginning with, “Bah! Humbug!”, but working its way to a “very happy ending.”

Mary’s Little Boy Child, Jose Feliciano. Beautiful. I also love his Feliz Navidad, but a store nearly ruined that song for me once, by playing it ten times in a row! Nearly went berserk.

Gift of Love, The Boones. My wife loves this one. Angelic female harmony, featuring Debbie Boone. (Ask your parents. Or maybe grandparents.)

Christmas Macarena. JUST KIDDING!!!

The Restroom Door Said “Gentlemen”, Didn’t I Get This Last Year?, Bob Rivers and Twisted Radio. If you want some laughs this Christmas, check out these hilarious send ups of traditional favorites. Oh, and also, The Chimney Song. Hysterical! 🤣

Sleigh Ride, the instrumental version, by any orchestra you choose. Love it.

Silent Night, Mannheim Steamroller. Absolutely breathtaking instrumental piece.

The Chipmunk Song (Christmas, Don’t Be Late), The Chipmunks. Can’t go a single Christmas without hearing, “AL-VIIIIIIIIIIN!!!!” Can you?

Step Into Christmas, Elton John. Just cuz it’s Elton, and I’m a lifelong fan.

Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season, Some Children See Him, Andy Williams. Both are classics.

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, Gayla Peevey. Admit it, just reading the title put a big grin on your face, didn’t it?

Mary, Did You Know?, Pentatonix. Unbelievable harmonies from this talented a capella group from right here in Texas.

That’s probably enough for now, but there may be a Part 2 forthcoming. Because, really, there’s a lot more than just four Christmas songs.

Thank goodness. 🎄⛄️🔑🎁

Now, you tell me: what are some of your favorites?

 

 

 

 

 

Gracias Beaucoup

 

Aaaaaand, it’s over. Just like that.

So much buildup, so much shopping, decorating, baking, wrapping, and now, we’re done. Happens every year.

But, I hope yesterday was lots of fun for you. It was for me.

Now, it’s time to go return all those gifts you said were “just what you’ve always wanted!” It’s also time for another post-Christmas tradition that, I believe, is rapidly dying out:

Writing, and sending, thank-you notes.

That’s right, kids, back in ye olden days, we wrote thank-you notes to everyone who gave us a present for Christmas, including Santa.

I don’t know, do kids do that anymore? Writing, I mean? On paper? With a pen?

Who knows? Anyway…

Here’s my chance to send a thank-you note to you. All of you wonderful people who gave me the gift of your attention this year, even if it was just to look in on one post. Just the fact that you took the time to visit this blog means a lot to me, so thank you for checking in to see what I wrote. I hope you enjoyed your visit, and you’re welcome to come back anytime, as often as you want. I will try to keep making it worth it for you.

We have, to understate, a very interesting year ahead, and we all need to gear up for it. The incoming administration is going to require our constant vigilance, and participation in the process of governing this nation.

If you can’t come up with any New Year’s resolution, I think that would be as good as any.

Again, thanks so much for stopping by. I appreciate it. Y’all come back now, you hear?

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

 

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War, I despise ’cause it means destruction of innocent lives.

“War”, Edwin Starr

SONGWRITERS
Strong, Barrett / Whitfield, Norman J.

 

The classic Christmas ballad, I’ll Be Home For Christmas, was released around Christmas time in 1943, and became a huge hit for singer Bing Crosby.

The song, which speaks of wishing to be home with family for the holidays, complete with “snow and mistletoe, and presents on the tree,” wasn’t originally written from the point of view of a soldier stationed overseas, but quickly took on that meaning, since it was released during wartime. For many of the servicemen, the only way to get back home for Christmas was “only in my dreams.”

Two years earlier, and 75 years ago today, Japanese forces made sure that over two thousand servicemen stationed at Pearl Harbor would not be home for Christmas. Any Christmas.

 

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Imagine how December 25, 1941 must have been for the families of all those lost just eighteen days before.

It’s a pain that has been experienced through our history. From the American Revolution to the present, over a million Americans have died in battle. That’s a lot of families through the decades, suddenly overwhelmed with an enormous loss. Their beloved soldier would not be home for Christmas…or ever.

Now, I know there are plenty of other people who, for whatever reason, are separated from their loved ones at Christmas time. I’m not ignoring them, or belittling their circumstances. (Not intentionally, at least.) That especially goes for all the victims of violence – gun violence, mainly – and their bereaved, devastated families.

But, on this somber anniversary, my thoughts go to all those who have been separated, temporarily or permanently, by the harsh reality of war. I’m not going to debate the rights and wrongs of war here, other than to say, I hate what it does to families.

And not just American families.

So, here’s a few Christmas wishes, from a grateful civilian:

To all of you military men and women, spending Christmas somewhere far from home, thank you for your service. I wish you were here, too. Come home soon, and safe. Merry Christmas.🎄 🎁

To all of you celebrating Christmas while waiting for your loved ones to come home, thank you for the sacrifices you make. May they return soon for a joyful reunion.

 

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And to all of you facing, again or for the first time, the unbearable pain of never seeing another Christmas with that mom or dad, that son or daughter, that brother or sister, that husband or wife, that special person…

 

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My heart goes out to you. You are going through grief of a magnitude many of us will never know. I am so very sorry. I wish you love and comfort in your sorrow.

And to everyone, Peace on Earth.