Batteries not required

Just for fun, here are Peter Paul and Mary singing the most playful of songs, one about a toy. But not just any toy! Nope, this one is a Marvelous toy! Tom Paxton composed the song in the 1950s. When legendary producer Milt Okun heard him play it Okun made Paxton the first writer signed …

Continue reading ‘Batteries not required’ »

Three ships, possibly Irish

Violinist Lindsey Stirling plays a rousing version of “I Saw Three Ships” Thanksgiving Week of 2017. She and her colleagues do a goodly bit of Irish step dancing during the performance. All the while she continues to play her violin. It’s quite a show. The song itself has been around since the 17th century. The …

Continue reading ‘Three ships, possibly Irish’ »

My Namesake’s Day

Sung by the Danish National Vocal Ensemble, here is the story of a Bohemian king going on a journey and braving harsh winter weather to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (December 26, the Second Day of Christmas). During the journey, his page is about to give up the struggle …

Continue reading ‘My Namesake’s Day’ »

Sing, O Glorious Host

The King’s College Choir sings “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” The song and melody are similar to the one originally composed in 1739 by Charles Wesley (yes, the same Wesley family. John was his brother), but there were modifications done over the past 200 years. For example, the melody is from a Mendelssohn cantata written …

Continue reading ‘Sing, O Glorious Host’ »

The Night Before Christmas

Rosemary Clooney and Gene Autry sing “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” After 150 years of assuming it was written by Clement Clarke Moore, there is now some question as to whether he did so. It first appeared in 1823 anonymously; Moore claimed it in 1837. I don’t really care whether he or Henry Livingstone wrote …

Continue reading ‘The Night Before Christmas’ »

En Français, s’il vous plaît

I learned this song in French III at Thomas Jefferson High School in 1965-1966 from Mr. Adair McConnell, who played it on an autoharp. Diane Taraz sings “Un Flambeau, Jeanette, Isabella.” From Wikipedia: “Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella” (French: Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle) is a Christmas carol which originated from the Provence region of France …

Continue reading ‘En Français, s’il vous plaît’ »

Softly, softly

Tom Caufield performs an instrumental version of “Silent Night” on guitar. From Wikipedia: The song was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818 at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village in the Austrian Empire on the Salzach river in present-day Austria. A young priest, Father Joseph Mohr, had come to Oberndorf the year before. …

Continue reading ‘Softly, softly’ »

I’ve seen chestnuts roasting. Really.

When I lived in Japan I saw 50-gallon drums turned on their ends and repurposed as charcoal grills on several street corners. I could buy a handful of hot grilled chestnuts for a couple of hundred yen. Mel Tormé sings his signature song, one he co-wrote with Bob Wells in the summer of 1946. Here’s …

Continue reading ‘I’ve seen chestnuts roasting. Really.’ »

Take a ride on the Reading one-horse sleigh

The Carpenters perform “Sleigh Ride.” The song was originally written for orchestra by Leroy Anderson, who conceived of it in 1946 and completed it in 1948. The lyrics were composed in 1950 by Mitchell Parrish. The original recording was by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops in 1949. According to ASCAP, it consistently ranks as …

Continue reading ‘Take a ride on the Reading one-horse sleigh’ »