Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Music

Having been schooled from 1st through 8th grades by Catholic nuns (except for Grade 7, when I had some of the best teachers of my life in the country previously known as the Socialist Republics of Jugoslavija), my love for Christmas hymns and songs decreased geometrically with the passing of each year in Catholic grammar school. Singing and marching “Little Drummer Boy” in a Christmas Gala Performance sounded the death knell for me for holiday songs. I couldn’t even stand watching “White Christmas”. I didn’t tell anyone else; I was too terrified that my naturalization papers would get revoked and I’d be shipped via banana boat back to the Land of Jugo’s. It was strange times in our country at the time. School kids hiding under desk kindling as preparation for protection from incoming nuke missiles from Castro’s sugar and cigar plantations. Presidential candidates (i.e., Nixon, first time around) looking unshaven and shifty on tv. Items of low quality coming in from Japan. Strange times, indeed.

Luckily for me, jazz and blues entered my life in my late teen years and songs I had cringed from became listenable once again. Thanks to my ever-loving wife and kids, I started watching "White Christmas" again and, aside from "Blackadder’s Christmas Carol", it’s become a season favorite.

So, joining in on the Christmas list-o-rama of songs, I give you my short list of favorite albums for this time of the year. Let the commenting commence.

My all-time favorite for the ability to be played over and over again with no detectable loss in listenability: Charles Brown’s Cool Christmas Blues.

In no particular order:
Soundtrack from "White Christmas". You have to buy the linked version to get the S/T; it comes with a DVD of the movie. The CD is not available by itself for some reason.

Liz Story - "The Gift"
Jimmy Smith - "Christmas Cookin'"
Los Straitjackets - "Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets"
Maddy Prior & the Carnival Band - "An Evening of Carols & Capers"
A Medley of Peanuts:
George Winston - "Linus & Lucy"
Cyrus Chestnut - "Charlie Brown Christmas"
Vince Guaraldi - "A Charlie Brown Christmas "
Soundtrack from "Diner". YES! This is a Christmas movie. Kevin Bacon in the manger crib. The Battle of the Plastic Wise Men. Christmas shopping for tv sets.
Eric Reed - "Merry Magic"
Various Musicians - "Hipster's Holiday"

Happy Holidays to all and may good music come your way.

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Ahh, yes, those thrilling days of yester-year - hiding from Krushchev's Big Bomb.

Hmm, I might play this game of holiday tunes.

And, yes, I must see White Christmas on Christmas Eve. I always sing along with "Sisters".
I have a rotating list of non-favorites. More often than not, the king of the heap has been Paul McCartney's insidious ditty (h/t to CP). But this year the stand-out is "Little Drummer Boy," excepting only Vince Guaraldi's rendering of it. Kudos to Vince, and let others take note: if you can't launch from the pedestrian into the whimsical, it's best to not cue it up at all.
Okay, Darko, really. It's 2008 already. Are you alive? Have you any holiday tales to regale us with? Please. Or should that be "Please?" ;-)
Hey Gwynne!
Sorry for the lack of posting. My PC (short for Piece o' Crap) has been doing a swan song performance lately. It's as stable as a teenage girl in love. So, (as I'm posting this comment from work, I will be keeping this quite short), all the pix, stories (imagined and not) from the holiday season are still stored in my teakwood head. Christmas has come and gone without remedial PC-age, so I'm trying to figure out a way of getting back on the blog line. Thanks for keeping me in mind!
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