Turntable Talk – “Shock Rock”

Welcome to another edition of Turntable Talk hosted by Dave over at A Sound Day. Check out his site here: https://soundday.wordpress.com/

His topics have ranged from very easy to thought provoking. This time around, I find it truly thought provoking.

Here are the instructions that Dave sent to each of the participants describing what this edition was to be about:

This time around I’m calling it ‘Shock rock’… but wait, it’s not about Marilyn Manson and Megadeath…unless you want it to be.  The subject basically will be pick a record that you love that would surprise people… something that runs afar from your regular favorite listening.  Maybe you like hard rock but love something by the Carpenters. Or are a huge ’60s fan who can’t get enough Bruno Mars. Or maybe it’s a little Tchaikovsky to wind down after a night full of Stones or Springsteen.  Let us know what it is that makes that ‘oddball’ selection so appealing to you.

What Could Possibly “Surprise” You?

I have almost 5000 songs on my iPod. I have a CD collection that fills at least three storage totes, and 4 carrying cases. My external hard drive is loaded up with almost half a terabyte of songs. What ONE song would surprise you? This was my dilemma.

I had three songs immediately jump out at me when I first read Dave’s e-mail. The more I thought on them, I just wasn’t sure which one to pick. As I am writing this, I still question the one that I chose. I will stick with it because it isn’t something I would normally post, and it is more of a personal song. So how in the world did I narrow it down?

Grab my iPod and there is just about every genre of music on there. There is pop music from every decade from the 1930’s to the 2010’s. There is country music – classic and modern. There is a fair amount of R&B, Soul and Motown. I’m not ashamed to admit there are some disco favorites, too. You will also find Big Band and Swing music, Jazz, standards, and plenty of Classical music. There is Christian music and plenty of oldies. There are some favorite Christmas songs on the play list and songs that I played when I was in high school band that I downloaded from YouTube and other sources.

Going through the iPod, there were songs that I thought were “oddball” that I could write about. For example, I have almost every Weird Al Polka Medley on there. I also have music from the Shrek soundtrack, music from The Muppets, and music from the cartoon Phineas and Ferb. There are also plenty of songs that are on there that my kids used to listen to when we would be in the car from some of their favorite kid shows. Oddball, indeed.

All that being said, anyone who knows me or has read my blog before knows that I have a wide range of musical tastes. It would be easy to feature any one of the “oddball” songs mentioned in the above paragraph. Instead, there was one song that stood out for me. It is a song that I never skip when it comes on the iPod (there are only a few of those). It is also a song that I have debated posting on my blog as part of a “music Monday” or some music feature. I kept holding back, probably because it is such a personal song for me. Will you find it “shocking?” I doubt it.

Untitled Hymn – Chris Rice

Readers of my blog know that I am a Christian. While I don’t care for much of the “modern” Christian music, I do like many songs. I cannot recall when I first heard Chris Rice’s “Untitled Hymn,” but it hit me immediately. It was a song that I shared with one of the guys at church, who worked it up and sang it on more than one occasion.

To those who are not of the Christian faith, there will be no connection whatsoever to the song. To me, however, it hits me deep every time I hear it. I am reminded of who I was before and who I am now. It also reminds me that when my life is over – it isn’t over. I am aware that not everyone believes what I do, and that is ok. I’m ok if you just scroll on by this blog.

The song begins with a lone piano and then the vocal. The lyrics of this song speak of the journey of a Christian. From sinner to saved. Singing praise. New life in Christ and life’s struggles and looking to Him in those struggles. Feeling the love and joy that comes in this new life. Finally, the “end” of life on earth for the Christian and the beginning of the afterlife.

The vocal and the piano blend so perfectly. The inflection of the vocal through the dynamics of the song conveys the lyrics exactly how they need to be conveyed. Rice rerecorded the song for “A Collection of Hymns” with a more up-tempo piano and more instrumentation (strings, guitar, etc…) and vocal harmony. Personally, I prefer the original recording over the newer version. I feel it is more powerful.

Here is the original and the lyrics:

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
Oh, raise your head for Love is passing by

Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live

Now your burden’s lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain

So, sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live

And like a newborn baby
Don’t be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk sometimes we fall

So, fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain

Then cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live

Oh and when the love splills over
And music fills the night
And when you can’t contain your joy inside

Then dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live

With your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side

And fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live

Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live

In Closing

Does it shock you that I picked this song? I guess it is a bit different than the songs I have posted in the past. Isn’t that what I was supposed to do? At any rate, Dave asked us to explain what makes this song so “appealing.” All I can say is that it appeals to me because I relate to it. Outside of the last verse, I have lived it. It is a song that strikes a chord (pun intended) every time I hear it. Depending on what is going on in my life, I either smile and sing along or cry and sing along. To me, that makes it one powerful song.

Thanks for allowing me to participate, Dave. I look forward to the next edition.

My Christmas Wish To You

With Christmas just days away, I thought I would take a moment and write a Christmas wish to you. Yes, you. Many of my followers are friends on Facebook, however, there are many of you who only know me from this blog. I wanted to be sure to extend holiday wishes to you before I got too busy with Christmas things.

I really had hoped to come up with some deep and meaningful wish, but I can’t seem to find the right words. Let me start with this: For my blogger friends – I appreciate you. I am glad to have made your acquaintance through mutual likes (movies, music, TV, etc…). I hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy reading yours. I may not get the chance to comment or “like” each one of them, but I do find time to read them.

For my family and friends who are connected through Facebook or social media, I am grateful for you, too. Even though we do not get to see each other face to face, I laugh at your funny posts, I smile at your family photos, I pray when you request special prayers, and I cry when you experience sadness or tragedy. I send my love to each of you.

For Christmas 2021, I wish for you:

C – Carols and music. May the sounds of the season accompany your holiday gatherings.

H – Health and happiness. May you be blessed with good health and an over abundance of happiness!

R – Rest and relaxation. May you find time to rest, relax and recharge before heading back to the grind.

I – Innocence. May you take in things that are so often overlooked with the awe, wonder, and innocence of a child. Notice those things – and treasure them.

S – Surrounded by family and friends. May you share all of your holiday season amongst those who mean the most to you.

T – Traditions. May you enjoy old traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation as well as start new ones to pass down next year.

M – Memories. May you make many happy memories together and recall memories from Christmases gone by.

A – Appreciation. May you celebrate this Christmas with an appreciation for all you have, no matter how big or how small.

S – Savior. May you celebrate the Savior this Christmas. Yes, the world is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, but it is also important to remember that the Baby in the manger grew up to be a sinless Man. That sinless Man, was crucified for you and for me. He bore all of our sins on the cross so that we could have eternal life.

I Corinthians 15: 1-4

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

A Musical Wish

I have never heard of Katherine Jenkins. She is a Welsh opera singer who  performs operatic arias, popular songs, musical theatre, and hymns. I was scanning through channels of Sirius XM and heard this song this week. I felt like it was a good one to share and conveyed what I might not be able to put into words.

I wish you starlight on fields of snow
The winter’s morning light and evening’s glow;
I wish you candles that shine from every tree
So all the world can see
The light that there could be


I wish you music, I wish you song
With voices echoing, Joyous and strong;
I wish you church bells, ringing true and clear;
I wish you Christmas, a merry Christmas
A merry Christmas to remember all the year


Old friends smiling
Thinking of times gone by;
Young friends laughing:
Christmas is here
Spirits are bright
And hopes are high


I wish you loved ones around your fire;
May Christmas bring you all your heart’s desire
I wish you children to make the season new
With dreams you help come true
Just like it was for you


I wish you blessings, I wish you love
The sound of angel choirs from high above;
I wish you laughter, happiness and cheer:
I wish you Christmas, a merry Christmas
And may its joy and peace be with you through the year


I wish you music, I wish you song;
I wish you harmony your whole life long;
The warmth of memories that long remain:
I wish you Christmas, a merry Christmas
And may God bless you till we all shall meet again

Merry Christmas from your nostalgic Italian friend,

Keith

Christmas Memories – Frank Sinatra

On my way home yesterday I happened to catch this holiday song by Frank Sinatra. I’ve probably heard it 50 times over the last 5 years. I have the Sinatra Christmas album it is on, but never really seemed to play this song as a “favorite.” Yesterday, however, the lyrics hit me like I was hearing it for the first time.

I’m not sure whether it is because of the way I’m feeling this year, or that I’ve reached the age where it hits home a little more. I just now that as I listened to it, I came to appreciate it more than I ever have.

The song was written by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, Don Costa. Costa was a conductor and producer who worked with Frank on a many of his hit albums, including My Way. Frank recorded this song in October of 1975 for his label, Reprise Records.

The song begins with a beautiful string arrangement. As Frank begins to sing, you can hear he is older. His voice is tender, but a bit weaker than his older hits. To me, this makes the song even more enjoyable. Here is an older man, looking back on the memories of Christmas and experiencing all the nostalgic feelings that come with them.

As the singers sing the bridge of the song, I picture Frank sitting in a chair, lost in thought and smiling at the various memories that fill his head. Maybe they bring tears or maybe a smile. As Frank begins to sing again, he elaborates on what I am already picturing. He closes his eyes and he is flooded with the memories of every Christmas he has lived through.

The song is short, coming in at just over 2 minutes. There are four simple verses. Yet so many emotions are conveyed by the wonderful arrangement and Sinatra’s perfect vocal interpretation.

It is not a song that you will hear on your local “Christmas station,” and that is a shame. It is certainly one of my favorites and will remain that way for a very long time. I just know that it will mean more with each passing year.

Christmas Memories – Frank Sinatra

Singing carols, stringing popcorn
Making footprints in the snow
Memories, Christmas memories
They’re the sweetest ones I know

Cookies baking in the kitchen
Cards and ribbons everywhere
Frosty, Christmas memories
Float like snowflakes in the air

And, oh, the joy of waking Christmas mornings
The family round the tree
We had a way of making Christmas morning
As merry as can be

I close my eyes and see shiny faces
Of all the children who now have children of their own
Funny, but comes December
And I remember every Christmas I’ve known

I Made It 15 Days! A New Record!

I’m out! I got “Whammed” on Tuesday by a co-worker.

Another co-worker and I were just talking about this on December 1st. Do you play Whamageddon? Do you even know what it is? If not, I’ll tell you.

It’s probably one of the stupidest and silliest games of the holiday season. The objective? Avoid hearing Last Christmas by Wham from December 1st to December 25th (although there are some people who try to avoid it the entire month of December).

Here are the rules:

When I was working part time at Cars 108, it was especially difficult to avoid hearing it, because the station played all Christmas music during the holidays. However, now that Covid has pretty much forced my retirement from radio, I have a bit more control over things.

Yes, I still do flip through the channels on the radio, but it is mostly Sirius XM stations that probably wouldn’t play the Wham version. However, there were times that my wife and I were driving where we were scanning through local stations and the risk factor was higher. I thought for sure if I was gonna be “Whammed” it would be driving in the car, but that is not what happened.

One of our co-workers was listening to a variety of music on YouTube Tuesday night. I know for a fact that she was here the night me and my other co-workers were talking about Whamageddon. Whether she heard the discussion or not, I don’t know.

She was playing Christmas songs of her choice – meaning, she was searching and then selecting the songs to play. She literally turned to us and said, “Here’s one for you” and started Wham! My buddy and I looked at each other and were like, “Really!? Why would you play that?!” She said she had no idea about the game. That was NOT the way I thought I’d lose the game! I am sure that there was a look of disgust and defeat on our faces!

I suppose I’ll give it a go again next year … Maybe I can go longer than 15 days!

Where is My Christmas Spirit?

By the time this blog posts, it will be a mere 9 days till Christmas. Our tree has been up since Thanksgiving. I’ve been listening to Christmas music. I have read A Christmas Carol. I watched a few of the holiday specials. Christmas pictures are done. So where is my Christmas Spirit?

My wife, Sam, and I had this conversation earlier today. You would think that we’d be a little more “in the holiday spirit” with all that is going on, but something just doesn’t feel right. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think Sam offered up some pretty plausible reasons.

No Snow

Sure, we had a good snow already, but it is long gone. When I was getting ready for work this afternoon, it was 55 degrees out! We’ve had plenty of rain, but we’re missing some snow. I know some will tell me to shut up, as they can’t stand snow. That’s ok, but for me, there has to be a little bit of snow for it to feel like Christmas.

Missed Traditions

Ok, I’m going to blame Covid. Sam and I are just not comfortable going anywhere. Because of that, we put some of our traditions on hold this year. One we could probably have done, was visiting Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo.

We’ve been doing since we’ve been together. It’s always fun, but we want to make sure that the kids don’t get sick. It’s probably fine for Ella, but a bit too cold to have Andrew out there at night. Next year, we’ll be back there for sure!

Online Shopping

Outside of one or two things, all of our Christmas shopping was done online. I’m not one who loves shopping in crowds, but I do like to actually walk through the stores. Many times, I find the perfect gift by just walking and looking. To me, getting a gift that is unexpected is even more special than getting something you asked for. Thought actually went into it!

Shopping in General

I guess this is kind of a combination of “tradition” and “shopping.” There are quite a few places that Sam and I love to go to and just walk through.

  • The Christmas Tree Store is one of them. We found some really wonderful things for Ella’s room after she was born. We also love going there for holiday themed items.
  • Barnes and Nobel is another. We love walking through and checking out the new books. Now it’s even more fun because we can find the kids new books.
  • The Mall – ANY mall! Just going and walking the malls is always nice for us, even when we don’t have anything we HAVE to buy. (I guess we got to walk JC Penney while we waited for Christmas pictures recently, but it wasn’t like walking the whole mall.)

Again, Sam and I are just not comfortable yet being out among people. There are just too many people who don’t cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze. I was never a germaphobe, but recently, I feel like I’ve become one.

Maybe it isn’t too late….

I have a feeling that once I am sitting there watching my kids open gifts, their happiness will fill my heart and I will be overwhelmed with joy for them. I’m sure it will all work out … memories will be made. There will be many smiles. I just wish I felt it a bit more right now….

Blogmas Challenge…

I’ve been following a few new blogs that are participating in Blogmas (a Christmas themed post every day until Christmas). I have actually enjoyed many of the entries and some have inspired blog posts from me. I’m not sure that I could participate in it every day because there are topics I don’t think I could write about.

Recently, a few of the bloggers posted their Top 5, Top 10, or Top 20 favorite Christmas songs. I commented on some of the lists and have often thought about doing my own list. As a matter of fact, one of those bloggers said she would love to read my list if I posted it. I’m not sure I can make that happen.

How do I pick just 10 songs? I love Christmas music! Don’t believe me? Well, I have a huge bin/tub in my basement with nothing but Christmas CDs in it!

Hundreds of CDs with various Christmas songs are stored in this bin! Many of my favorites I have transferred to digital (because when I DJ’d Christmas parties, I got sick of taking the whole bin with me). Out of all of these songs, there are plenty of stand outs, but can I really narrow it down to 10 or 20?

I’m not sure, but I’m considering the challenge. I have 9 days to tackle it….stay tuned.

Inspired by Blogmas

A few blogs that I follow, started to talk about “Blogmas” a week or so ago. From what I can tell it is a list of 25-31 Blog post ideas. Sort of a daily writing prompt that are all Christmas related. I did a search for “Blogmas” and read through a few of them. The list seems to vary a bit, but mostly contains the same prompts. The idea is to blog about each of these prompts daily. Some of the lists stop at 25 (Christmas Day) and some end at day 31 (New Year’s Eve).

The ones I read yesterday were under the title “Christmas Tag.” In essence, you answer the 20 questions and then tag a blogger to answer the same. I won’t tag anyone at the end of this blog, since I am technically not officially committed to “Blogmas,” but I liked some of the questions on the list and thought they would make for good reading (even though I may have answered a question or two in more detail in past blogs). So here goes:

  1. When do you start getting excited for Christmas? I would say that I probably start getting in the Christmas mood right after Halloween. Many radio stations begin playing Christmas music then. I could listen to Christmas music any time of the year, but hearing it on the radio starts to get me excited for the season.
  2. Is Christmas your favorite holiday? I would say yes. I have so many wonderful memories of past Christmases. I love that people’s attitudes tend to be happier during the Christmas season. There just seems to be a lot more joy around Christmas.
  3. Do you prefer to stay at home or travel for the holidays? I guess I prefer to stay home – or close to home – for the holidays. When I read the question, travel seems to insinuate going out of state or a lengthy trip. Most of my family is within a 60-90 minute drive, so that really doesn’t seem like travel to me.
  4. Be honest: do you prefer giving or receiving gifts? Definitely giving. I love to see the look on a person’s face when they receive a gift from me. I wouldn’t consider myself the best gift giver (trying to buy anything for my wife is SO difficult). I like to have some sort of idea of what a person wants before I shop for them. As far as receiving gifts – I never really feel comfortable when someone buys me something.
  5. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve? I have every year since I was a kid. We always went to my grandma’s house for Christmas Eve and opened all our gifts. During my first marriage, we always let my sons open one gift on Christmas Eve (usually Christmas pajamas). Today, my sons come over the day before Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve morning is our “Christmas.” They spend Christmas morning with their mom. My daughter and my son will have some gifts to open Christmas Eve morning with their brothers and then more for Christmas morning.
  6. Have you ever built a snowman? Yes. Quite a few actually. I remember loving when the snow was “good packing” and you could build snowmen and snow forts. Just recently, my daughter and I started a snowman, but she was so excited to play in the snow, he was never finished. Can’t wait for our next opportunity to build one.
  7. Do you decorate the outside of your home for Christmas? Yes. Usually the front and side porches. It is by no means the best on the block, but I’m happy with it. One day I hope to be courageous enough to climb up on the roof and do more. For now, I’m happy with it.
  8. Is your Christmas tree real or fake? Fake. In all my years, we’ve never had a real tree. I enjoy them when they are at someone else’s house, though. I enjoy the smell of the pine tree. I am not sure that if we ever got a real tree that I’d be comfortable with it. You know, fire hazzards, bugs or animals possibly still being in them, the fact that you have to water it each day, and stepping on pine needles for months after….
  9. Most memorable holiday moment? How does one even begin to answer this question?! I have so many from childhood, and now even more with each of my children. I just couldn’t narrow it down to one.
  10. What do you like to do over Christmas break? What break?! I have a couple days off and work the rest of the days in between. I wish that I could stockpile vacation time up so I could actually take more time off during the holidays so I could spend it with family.
  11. Which holiday traditions are you most looking forward to this year? One thing that I have come to really look forward to is driving through the Holiday lights display at Crossroads Village on Christmas Eve night. It doesn’t change too much every year, but I always love going through and seeing the lights.
  12. Best Christmas gift you’ve ever received? Urgh – again, very difficult to chose one. Maybe it was the Atari 2600. It also could be the cribbage board my grandpa gave me. Or it could be the gold trumpet charm from my mom. Stretch Armstrong? I just can’t narrow it down.
  13. What is your all-time favorite holiday treat? Toss up between Pignolata (loved when my grandma made this!) or cannoli. Both were staples at Christmas time (along with many many Christmas cookies).
  14. Your favorite Christmas movie? I would say A Christmas Story or any version of A Christmas Carol. (Christmas Vacation could easily be in there, too!)
  15. Your favorite Christmas song? Man, all of these “favorite” questions are just to difficult! Dean Martin’s Marshmallow World is a definite favorite! Santa Claus is Back in Town from Elvis, Mel Torme’ The Christmas Song, Doc Severinsen’s Jingle Bells, the list goes on and on!
  16. What makes the holidays special for you? Family! Spending time with my family is all that matters! Sharing those special moments with them is everything!
  17. What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season? I’ve never really been away for the holidays, but I know some places go all out. Disney, Branson, and so many other places really have some amazing things going on. Maybe one day we’ll be able to check them out.
  18. Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you stick to them? I used to. I don’t really any more. I shouldn’t need a new year to want to make changes in my life. For many years, I would make them and would fail miserably at them.
  19. You have been granted one Christmas wish, what will it be? I would wish to make a difference. Included in the wish, I would wish to be a role model for my children, a good friend, a good husband, and a man whose faith helped lead others to the Lord.
  20. Who’s “it?” At this point on the list you are supposed to pick someone to answer the same questions. If you are so inclined, you may do so. If not, I hope you enjoyed my answers.

Gearing Up For The Holidays

I feel like I haven’t really blogged about “life” lately. I kinda feel like I haven’t really even had a minute to sit down and write. Between wacky schedules at work and an even wackier sleep schedule, writing has been a challenge. So here are some highlights from the past couple weeks….

Right after Halloween, Sirius XM radio launched a bunch of their holiday channels and the Christmas music was readily available.

I took advantage of a rare 60 degree November day and put up the outside Christmas lights. I know, I know, people think I am rushing the season. The truth is, I don’t like putting them up in the cold. They have been up for a couple weeks now, and the only time I have turned them on is to make sure they looked ok.

The side porch takes the most lights. I always check the strands before stringing them up to make sure they work. For some reason, one of the strands had a cluster of lights in the middle that didn’t light up. Both ends lit up, but not the ones in the middle. I went through and tested bulbs, but couldn’t find the problem. So I put them up anyway! I just made sure the unlit portion of the lights was covered by lights I knew worked!

We don’t do much to the front porch, though I’d like to. I got razzed about how I didn’t get up and string lights on the roof by some friends. I’ve never been a fan of heights, so, these are the highest my lights will go. Besides, I only have a three step ladder!

Baby Milestone

AJ celebrated being one month old a week or so ago. It is amazing to come home from work and see just how different he looks to me after only one day! He is much more alert and his sister just loves him! He is starting to take notice of a lot of things around him. Recently he discovered the mobile on his swing.

Holiday Tradition

Every year, we take a trip up the Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth (“The World’s Largest Christmas Store”) and get an ornament for the Christmas tree that represents a big event from the past year. Sam and I have one for our engagement, our first Christmas as husband and wife, when Sam was pregnant with Ella, Ella’s first Christmas, and now we needed to go and get one for AJ’s first Christmas.

Obviously, life at our house is pretty crazy with two little ones. We had planned to all go to Bronner’s as a family day trip. AJ was napping and Sam suggested that Ella and I go, since we knew exactly what we wanted. There is an ornament that is exactly like Ella’s except it is blue for a baby boy.

Finding the ornament took all of 5 minutes. The line to get it personalized was long and we stood in line for almost 30 minutes (Thank goodness I had the PBS app on my phone, so Ella didn’t lose her mind waiting!). I had pictures of Ella’s ornament and how they did hers, and we wanted AJ’s to be done the same way. Ella and I walked around a little bit while they worked on the ornament. There are plenty of photo ops throughout the store and outside.

It was close to lunch time, so we snapped a couple pictures, picked up the ornament, and drove home. I hope to be able to take a drive up there one night when the lights are all lit up and grab a couple pictures.

Later that day, I took advantage of nap time and brought the tree up from downstairs. We’ve been trying to decide where to put it this year. We’ve moved everything around in our living room two or three times due to the addition of Ella toys or furniture, so it was unclear where it would go. There is a little nook in our living room where we had moved a lot of her toys, easel, toybox, etc…. We decided to find somewhere else for those things and that the tree should go there.

So, the tree is up and the lights are on it. However, we will decorate it this weekend or next weekend. I did have some help with the lights as I put it up …

…and, of course, little brother had to get into the act …

I’m excited for the holidays this year. Ella is at the perfect age for unwrapping presents! It is going to be a fun holiday season ….

A Musical Childhood Christmas Memory –

I love Christmas Music. I have blogged about it in the past. I have Christmas songs on my iPod that I can listen to at any time of the year, just because they make me feel good! I usually give my wife a hard time when she plays her Pandora on shuffle when she is getting ready for work and it plays Christmas music, however, deep down, I am ok with it.

In the many years I DJ’d weddings and parties, I used to love DJ’ing Christmas parties. As people were coming in, and as they ate dinner, I would just sit and play many of my favorite Christmas songs. I had a huge tote full of nothing but Christmas CD’s. I had everything from instrumental Christmas songs, country Christmas songs, children’s Christmas songs, classic Christmas songs, novelty Christmas songs, jazz Christmas songs and everything in between.

At some point I decided to try to put the songs I played most often on a hard drive to cut down on all the stuff I was bringing to DJ gigs. I came across the hard drive in a box of our Christmas stuff and there were a lot of albums on it. I wondered if it would play in the USB in my car, and sure enough it does. I will go from folder to folder and play track by track.

I came across a folder that brought me back to when I was just a little kid. Here I was driving home listening to this album and laughing at the cuts I had forgotten about. Every year on the radio, they over play one of their songs, and while this album was geared more toward kids, I was pleasantly surprised at some of the songs on it.

Admittedly, you either love or hate the Chipmunks. That being said, if you base your opinion on the Chipmunk Song that plays every hour on stations throughout December, I can see where you might lean toward disliking them. Now, if high pitched voices annoy you, then you probably won’t like anything they do!

Growing up, their Christmas album was one that my brother and I played a lot. We played it on my dad’s stereo and on our little portable record player. I remember it had a yellow label – why I remember that I don’t know.

The Chipmunks First Christmas Album

I’m not sure, but I’m sure that this album came about because of the success of the Chipmunk Song (Christmas, Don’t Be Late). It’s a pretty straight forward album. There is interaction between the rodents and David Seville on some songs like Rudolph )where they take him to the North Pole to meet the famous reindeer), and White Christmas (where Dave is sad because there is no snow).

What’s interesting is that when I looked at the folders my CD’s were in, there were actually 3 Chipmunk Christmas CDs. I wondered why, and then I realized that years ago, when I bought them, not all the songs from Volume 2 were actually on the Volume 2 CD (and it actually had many of the songs from the first album, too).

At any rate, the original album starts basically the same way as the first one – with Dave introducing the boys and straight into Jingle Bell Rock. This volume is more “playful” than the first album. There is a “copy cat” song that is reminiscent of the Chipmunk Song called Wonderful Day in which Alvin drives Dave crazy with a harmonica. In the 12 Days of Christmas, Alvin gets more and more anxious for the song to end, and even sings about how tired he is getting. Theodore laments about his two front teeth, the listener can sing along with Deck the Halls, Dave does a swinging rendition of The Night Before Christmas, and it’s a lot of fun to listen to (even as an adult.)

The whole point of me writing this blog is because of one song that I had forgotten about. Greensleeves is a traditional English folk song. The album contains a Christmas song sung to the melody of Greensleeves. I’m not sure why I was so moved by this song when I heard it. I love the instrumental arrangement and yes, the rodent harmonies. The lyrics are what really got to me, they kind of hit me. I will post a YouTube link to the song, but first, here are the lyrics:

Christmas Time (Greensleeves)

Oh, Christmas time, oh, time of joy
A wondrous day for each girl and boy
The fire is warm and the spirits bright
What a beautiful sight, it is Christmas

Raise up your voice and sing
Fill the room with joy
Let the laughter ring
Sing out with word and rhyme
It’s a wonderful time
It is Christmas

The children gathered around the tree
How they look and wonder and laugh with glee
Their hearts are filled with a hundred dreams
And they’re counting the moments ’til Christmas

Raise up your voice and sing
Fill the room with joy
Let the laughter ring
Sing out with word and rhyme
It’s a wonderful time
It is Christmas

Come sit you down and eat your fill
It’s a time for happiness and good will
May all good thoughts and dreams come true
And we wish you all Merry Christmas

Raise up your voice and sing
Fill the room with joy
Let the laughter’s ring
Sing out with word and rhyme
It’s a wonderful time
It is Christmas

___

I began to think about lyrics in general and out of a holiday context. How often do you find yourself happy enough to raise your voice and sing? Shouldn’t every day be a time for happiness and good will? Shouldn’t laughter ring out every day? These questions took me back to the Elvis Presley song where he asks “Why can’t every day be like Christmas? Why can’t that feeling go on endlessly? ‘Cause if every day could be just like Christmas, what a wonderful world this would be.”

Well, here is the song. I hope you enjoy it.

Son of a … Mitch!

Sirius XM Radio has a few holiday music channels. They each kind of fall into a category – Country Christmas, Uptempo Holiday favorites, etc… I often find myself listening to the channel they call Holiday Traditions. This channel focuses on songs and artists from the 1940’s through the 1960’s. I hear a lot of my favorite artists on there like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, etc… They also play instrumental favorites, too.

On my way into work this week I noticed they will often play Christmas songs from the Ray Conniff Singers. As kids, I think my folks had two Christmas albums from them. I don’t really recall being a fan of them.

Listening to their version of Frosty the Snowman, I began to think. I wondered why they play so much Ray Conniff, but never play any Christmas songs by another singing group we had on LP – Mitch Miller.

Among the many Christmas albums we had (Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Bing Crosby), the above Mitch Miller album got a TON of play at our house. If memory serves me right, this album was one that my dad put on when we opened Christmas gifts. Mitch Miller had a TV show in the 1960’s where his singers sang songs and the lyrics were on the screen so viewers could sing along. He had many albums, too. I’m not sure just how many holiday albums, but I know we had that one!

Must Be Santa

Of all the holiday songs on the album, there is one that really stands out from my childhood – Must Be Santa. This song was not on any of the other holiday albums we owned. It was not a song that you ever heard on the radio. It was, in a sense, a Mitch Miller exclusive! As a matter of fact, Mitch was the first to record it, as far as I can tell. He released it in November of 1960.

The song is based on a German drinking song (the Schnitzelbank song) and is a “call and response” song. The lead singer sings a question and the singers answer back (Full Lyrics below).

I remember as kids loving this song. We often sang along with the “answer back” lines. As I grew older and heard the song, I remember noticing something I hadn’t really before. There was one voice that screamed through as they sang “Must be Santa” and it was awful!

It was a piercing voice. It almost sounds like a kid whose voice is changing. I cringe when I hear it now. It always seemed like that voice always sang a second longer that every other voice. Plus It was almost like some sort of fake vibrato in that voice. Give the song a listen in the YouTube video and see if you can’t hear the voice….

Now that I think about it …. maybe that voice is why they don’t play more Mitch Miller on the radio ….

Who’s got a beard that’s long and white?
Santa’s got a beard that’s long and white
Who comes around on a special night?
Santa comes around on a special night

Special Night, beard that’s white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Claus

Who wears boots and a suit of red?
Santa wears boots and a suit of red

Who wears a long cap on his head?
Santa wears a long cap on his head

Cap on head, suit that’s red
Special night, beard that’s white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Claus

Who’s got a big red cherry nose?
Santa’s got a big red cherry nose

Who laughs this way: “HO HO HO”?
Santa laughs this way: “HO HO HO”

HO HO HO, cherry nose
Cap on head, suit that’s red
Special night, beard that’s white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Claus

Who very soon will come our way?
Santa very soon will come our way

Eight little reindeer pull his sleigh?
Santa’s little reindeer pull his sleigh

Reindeer sleigh, come our way
HO HO HO, cherry nose
Cap on head, suit that’s red
Special night, beard that’s white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Claus

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen
Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen
Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen

Reindeer sleigh, come our way
HO HO HO, cherry nose
Cap on head, suit that’s red
Special night, beard that’s white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Claus

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Claus