The Night Before

Day 24, Christmas music.

No, no, not The Beatles’ song. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, of course!

Without further ado, we’ll listen as Michele Obama reads “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” Clement Clark Moore’s wonderful 1823 poem. Moore didn’t acknowledge his authorship until he published a book of poems in 1844. There’s apparently an ongoing dispute among some literati and academics as to whether he was the actual author. He was quite a character. He got extremely rich subdividing his inherited real estate on Manhattan Island, and he donated the land on which the Episcopal General Theological Seminary now sits as it has since 1827.

The former First Lady read this in 2013. She’s nearly as good an interpretive reader as her husband.

Let’s hear a musical version of the poem performed by Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians. Waring was an interesting character. He was a bandleader, radio and TV personality, and a promoter. He backed the inventor of the Waring blendor to the tune of $25,000, apparently getting the naming rights to the gadget. “…the Waring-owned Miracle Mixer was introduced to the public at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago retailing for $29.75. In 1938, Fred Waring renamed his Miracle Mixer Corporation as the Waring Corporation, and the mixer’s name was changed to the Waring Blendor (the “o” in blendor giving it a slight distinction from “blender”).”

Distant cows eat where?

Day 23, Christmas music

Judy Collins looks Away in a Manger
Posted by linkmeister on 15 December 2017, 8:31 pm

Ms. Judy Collins sings “Away in a Manger” from her 1994 album “Come Rejoice! A Judy Collins Christmas”. It’s beautifully sung, with spoken readings from the Gospel as well.

Collins is still touring, by the way. She just finished a joint tour with her long-ago inamorata Stephen Stills promoting their joint album “Everybody Knows.”


Day 22, Christmas music

The Phantom sees the deity
Posted by linkmeister on 20 December 2017, 8:55 pm

Here’s Michael Crawford (yes, the Phantom of the Opera) singing “O Holy Night,” from a 1993 NBC TV special called “David Foster’s Christmas Album.” It was recorded and is available.

The song was composed by a man named Adolphe Adam in 1847, setting the words of a poem written by Placide Cappeau to music. At the request of the parish priest, Cappeau wrote the poem to commemorate the renovation of the church’s organ in the French town of Roquemaure.

The Velvet Fog sings his own creation

Day 21, Christmas music

I’ve seen chestnuts roasting. Really.
Posted by linkmeister on 21 December 2018, 8:00 am

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 “The Christmas Song,” aka “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” Comic book and screenwriter Mark Evanier has a wonderful story of Tormé surprising diners and carolers in LA one Christmas season, to which I link nearly every year. Here it is.

Day 20, Christmas music

Midnight Clear
Posted by linkmeister on 20 December 2016, 7:55 pm

Mike Marshall performs an instrumental version of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” the title track of his 1997 album “Midnight Clear.” Marshall is a wonderful guitarist and mandolinist. He displays his talents quite beautifully on all twelve tracks of this album. I found it a couple of years ago and enjoy it every year.

Instrumentally speaking, it’s a Silent Night

Day 18, Christmas music

This is the instrument for which this beautiful song was composed.

Softly, softly
Posted by linkmeister on 22 December 2018, 8:00 am

Tom Caulfield 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. He had written the lyrics of the song “Stille Nacht” in 1816 at Mariapfarr, the hometown of his father in the Salzburg Lungau region, where Joseph had worked as a co-adjutor.

The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, schoolmaster and organist in the nearby village of Arnsdorf. Before Christmas Eve, Mohr brought the words to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the Christmas Eve mass, after river flooding had damaged the church organ. It is unknown what inspired Mohr to write the lyrics, or what prompted him to create a new carol.

Bing Crosby’s version has sold some 30 million copies, making it the third best-selling single record of all time behind Crosby’s “White Christmas” and Elton John’s tribute to Princess Diana “Candle in the Wind/Something About the Way You Look Tonight.”

All you coastal elites are about to suffer this, if the weatherbeings are correct

Day 17, Christmas music
All you coastal elites are about to suffer this, if the weatherbeings are correct

Shovel, shovel, shovel
Posted by linkmeister on 23 December 2017, 8:05 pm

Here is Ella Fitzgerald singing “Let It Snow” from “Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas,” first released in 1960 but remastered and with artwork modified several times since.

First past the post

Day 16, Christmas music
Bob’s no Bing Crosby, but his role here is to be Marilyn’s foil.

The original “Silver Bells” was in a movie
Posted by linkmeister on 16 December 2017, 8:51 pm

“Silver Bells” made its first appearance in the film “The Lemon Drop Kid” in 1951, sung by Marilyn Maxwell and Bob Hope (yes, Bob Hope). It was first recorded on vinyl in September 1950 by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards, after the film had completed production but before it was released. When the Crosby/Richards duet became a hit Hope and Maxwell were brought back to reshoot the scenes in which the song appeared more elaborately; it’s unclear whether this clip is the first or second cut.

Country roads

Day 15, Christmas music
I wonder what Karen Carpenter would be singing now had she lived.

Yesterday we were in the city; today we’re going to the country.

Take a ride on the Reading one-horse sleigh
Posted by linkmeister on 20 December 2018, 8:00 am

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 one of the top 10 most-performed songs of all songs that have been written by the organization’s members.