Four Things You Can’t Recover …

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My last blog was 7 days ago.  I had hoped to write for Tune Tuesday, I wanted to write a birthday blog for my wife, do a Top 10 song list for Dean Martin’s birthday and post a couple blogs as well, but I am a procrastinator.  I was asked to speak at the annual sleep conference at the Greektown Casino last week.  I had known my topic and the basic points I wanted to make since April.  I compiled the list of goals and gave an overview of the talk and sent it to the folks who asked me to speak, but I procrastinated until the week of the talk to put it together.  So, the past week has been spent outlining, planning, and editing my speech as well as creating the PowerPoint that was to accompany it.

During my radio career, I have stood in front of audiences of hundreds and thousands of people and introduced performers.  It was nothing to do this.  For this talk, which was to be in front of about 100-150 people, I was really nervous.  I know why – I was speaking to a group of peers.  I was going to get up and present a talk to people who have been doing what I do for many more years than me.  I kept asking myself, “Who am I to be the one up here talking?!  There are people in this audience who are WAY smarter than me!”  Every one kept telling me I’d be fine, yet, I still worried – until I got there.

Once I walked in, I ran into friends from college, friends who I worked with at another sleep lab, co-workers and friends from my current sleep lab, vendors who I have known for some time, and many familiar faces.  With each interaction with these people, the anxiety and nervousness faded quickly.  Once I was introduced, and I had the microphone, it was easy as pie!  It went very well, and many people who I had never met even came up to compliment me.  It was a very cool day.

There was one thing that happened after the conference that is really the point of this blog.  I’ll explain in a second.  Something came up in my Facebook “memory” feed that I could apply to what happened, and also makes for a good blog post.  So, here it is:

Four Things That Can Never Be Recovered

I won’t lie, I stole this from a friend who had posted it originally.  I find this to be very powerful and thought provoking.  So what are the four things?  “The stone after the throw, the word after it’s spoken, the occasion after it’s missed, and the time after it’s gone.”  I found myself reading this more than once, and thinking about each of these things.  I wasn’t going to blog about it, but the more I thought about it, the more it kept telling me to write on it.

The Stone After The Throw / The Word After It’s Spoken

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These two things go kind of hand in hand.  When you hit someone with a stone it hurts (physically).  When you say something out of anger, or without thinking how it might be taken by the person you are talking to it also hurts (emotionally).

Now, most of us are not out throwing stones at each other.  However, we frequently act without thinking.  We are prone to act or speak based on emotions. In many of those instances, we act or speak without really thinking about it.  Words or actions happen before the possible consequences are even considered.  All too often, we regret having said or done something knowing (after the fact) that it was hurtful.

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This relates to the instance that happened to me after the conference.  It didn’t involve anyone at the conference.  I won’t go into much detail, but it was after an interaction I had with someone.  I had texted that person prior to my arrival, so this may have been how the “stone” wound up being thrown at me.  As I left that person, my phone “dinged”.  It was a text message, from the person I had just left not 60 seconds earlier.  I will spare you the profanity that was in it, and let you fill in the blanks.  It read, “Keith is such a M___ F____ P___ A___ D____ B___!”

So, me being the guy I am, I responded with “Yes, but how do you really feel?”  For just a minute, put yourself in their shoes.  I don’t know what they felt, perhaps panic at first, knowing that they totally meant it for someone else to read?  Maybe they felt stupid?  Maybe they felt regret?  Maybe they didn’t feel anything.  I don’t know.  It took a few minutes for them to respond back.

Their response basically said “Sorry” and that it “was meant for someone else.”  It went on to say not to “take it seriously” and to have a good rest of the weekend.  I did not respond to this.  After a while later, another text came to me saying how wrong it was to text me that or “anyone for that matter.”  The person said that they “were trying to be funny” and admitted that it was “a mean thing to do.”  They said it was “weighing on” their conscience and that they were “really embarrassed and sorry.”  They also said how it was not very “Christian-like.”

I chose not to respond to this either.  I certainly could have, but I didn’t.  I was reminded of a Bible verse that I heard a pastor teach on at church one Sunday.  The verse is James 1:19 which reads, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”

The point of the entire message that week was basically this:  when we listen to one another,  when we stop and think about what we are going to say, when we are slow to respond, and slow to anger – less “stones are thrown” and less hurtful “words are spoken”.  Imagine how much easier things would be if we not only thought about the words we want to say, but how those words will be taken by the other person!

My best friend, sent me this today.  It fits:

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The Occasion After It’s Missed / The Time After It’s Gone

I had a friend who was a big Prince fan.  He loved his music, but never seemed to find the time to see him in concert.  He talked about it all the time and would often say, “I’ll get tickets the next time he is in town.” When Prince died in 2016, he was shocked and to this day says he regrets not buying tickets to his show.  “I never thought he’d not be around!  He was so young.  I should have had more chances to see him!”  The occasion came and went (a few times) and he missed it.

I have many regrets about occasions I have missed.  Not just concerts, but other things.  I regret not seeing my grandmother more because I was afraid to see her with cancer.  I regret not calling my friend, only to find out he had passed away.  I regret things that I may have said to friends while loaded up with medications. I regret many occasions that came, and I missed them.

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There are hundreds of songs about time.  I could probably fill an entire blog about songs that reflect on the fact that “time flies”.  This is an easy thing to see – in hind sight.  It’s never so easy to see in real time.  It seems like yesterday that my oldest son was born, yet next year he is a Senior in high school!  “Where did the time go?” we ask ourselves.  Kenny Chesney’s song says, “Don’t Blink.”  Isn’t that the truth?!  One minute your child is  a baby and the next thing you know, they’re graduating.  It’s eye opening – and emotional!

In life, and I have certainly been guilty of this, we often fail to prioritize what really is important.  Finding a balance between your work and home life is a huge challenge for many, but it is extremely important.  As I look back, I can think of many times work took priority over other things.  Because of that, I missed out on some pretty big things.

Employers are to blame as well, as many of them claim to be an environment where an employee’s family life is important, but their actions say otherwise.  I am always overjoyed to read of a place of employment that allows a new father to have some time off with their new baby and spouse.  It’s a rare thing, though.  I have seen people be denied vacation requests, despite the fact that they have the time to take.  They are told that too many other have that time off, or some other form of office politics.  Some people don’t even get to take their vacations, and if they do, they are working during it.  How sad is this?!

Time waits for no one!   It continues second by second.  Hour by hour.  Year by year.  Sometimes it seems to drag, but most of the time, it seems to fly by.  Use it wisely.

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Time management should be something that encompasses the balance of your life daily.  “I don’t have time to exercise,” “I can’t find a way to fit that in to my schedule,” or “I should have made time for that” are all things that we hear people say daily.  Guess what?  YOU have control over your time and what you do with it.  Manage it and make time for the important things.

Yes, you still have to work, but you can chose to work only when working.  Give your all when you are at work.  Do your job.  Do it well.  Manage your time so you get everything done when it needs to be done.  Don’t bring your work home with you.  You aren’t on the clock at home.  One of the best things I did was to disconnect my work e-mail from my phone.  I check it when I am at work.  Why would I want to think about work, when I am home with my wife?  Why would I sit on my e-mail when I could listen to my youngest tell me about how much fun he had on a field trip?  No, I leave my work at work. (By doing this, I am actually more productive at work, and less stressed at home!)

Outside of work, make time for family and friends.  Do what you enjoy doing.  De-stress.  Live life.  Do things that make you happy.  “Life was meant to be lived” someone once told me.  It’s true.  Up until recently, I often found myself wishing I had done things.  I found myself regretting not doing something.  I also regret doing some things that took away from the important things.  This has to stop.

With all the things that have changed over the past few years, it is time to make sure I do not look back with regrets.  I want to be able to look back and smile at all the things I accomplished.  I want to remember all the good things and people in my life.  I want to say that I lived life where I am not ashamed of wasting time on things that were unimportant.  I want to “waste” time doing things I love.  John Lennon once said, “Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted.”

Make time for the moments in life that you don’t want to miss!  Time cannot be recovered once it is gone.

If you get anything out of this blog today, I hope it is this:  Life has many moments to offer us, no matter how old we are.  So, moving forward consider your actions, think before you speak, enjoy life’s occasions, and utilize your time to the fullest.

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Oh, and here is an occasion NOT missed – a great shot of the sunset at the fair I took my sons to this weekend.  Beautiful!!!

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“Cleveland Rocks!”

For our anniversary, my wife and I wanted to plan a little getaway to celebrate.  Neither one of us had too much PTO in our “banks” at work, so we decided on a weekend trip.  During the planning the destinations changed frequently.  Originally, we had hoped to head back for another trip to Florida, but due to the lack of time available, we decided on something a bit closer to home.

There was talk of going to Nashville and maybe catching a show at the Grand Ole Opry.  Then there was talk of Gatlinburg, where my mom so often talked about.  I think we even chatted about Pennsylvania, too.  Eventually, we decided that Chicago was where we wanted to go, but then realized that it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, and we figured it might be just a tad crazy (although seeing the river turned green would have been cool.

Cleveland??

To be honest, I am not even sure how we decided on Cleveland, Ohio.  I had mentioned that my dad had gone to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and said it was cool.  I started to look at things in Cincinnati.  There was a lot to do there, but why wasn’t the Hall of Fame coming up in any of my searches?  I knew that Cincy was close to Louisville, KY and thought that we could maybe do something there, too.  I had gone as far as to drop a radio buddy a note to say we were gonna be down there and asked for good restaurants to eat at … only to then realize the Hall of Fame was in Cleveland!

Now that we had cleared that up, we were set for Cleveland.  Now, I will be the first to admit “Cleveland,Ohio” as the answer to “Where did you and your wife spend your first wedding anniversary?” is not at all romantic.  Many people laughed when I told them.  Here is the thing about my wife and I, the destination really didn’t matter – it was simply the fact that we were going to be together.  To me, this is just one of the reasons I love her.  We can be content with just having time with each other, no matter where we are, or what we are doing.

We have made it a tradition to go to restaurants that local wherever we go.  If we can go there at home, we’ll go there at home!  By doing this, we have really been treated to some amazing food.  We always try to find a good steak house or something very unique to the city we are in and we have yet to be disappointed.

The Hall of Fame

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Personally, I think Sam loves watching me get excited about stuff like this.  We both love museums, but I must have been like a little kid on his birthday during this trip!  I had, of course, seen pictures of the Hall of Fame, but it was something else to be standing in front of it.  The big red block letters that sit upon the sidewalk read “LONG LIVE ROCK”.  As I walked up the steps, there are phoney concert speakers erected by the hand rails. The excitement builds as you walk in.

As you enter, you walk into a huge foyer/lobby.  The gift shop is to your right, to the left a cafe/coffee shop, and in front of you there is an escalator to take you down to purchase tickets.  After buying our tickets, you get ready to enter and above the doors the perfect AC/DC quote to welcome you: “For those about to rock …”

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Walking into the main exhibition hall, the first thing I noticed were pictures of John Lennon and Ray Charles on the wall.  The first thing I am drawn to is a glass case containing Bill Haley’s guitar.  Bill is often credited as being the singer of the first “rock and roll” song – Rock Around the Clock.  There is a picture of him playing it in the case as well.  I am not sure why I was so taken in by it, but I was.

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The next thing we saw was a line of bass guitars that belong to Geddy Lee of Rush.  I didn’t count , but there had to be like a dozen of them.  The information said that this was only part of his massive collection.

The Roots

One thing I was thrilled to see here was the fact that the “roots” of Rock and Roll were well represented.  Rock really evolved from a combination of Gospel, R&B, Bluegrass, Country, Folk, and Blues music. Each of those genres was represented here.  Among my favorite things I saw:  a suite belonging to Hank Williams Sr.; Louis Jordan’s music folder with his music and cue sheets; stuff from Muddy Waters, BB King, and Mahalia Jackson; Ray Charles sunglasses; Carl Perkins Guitar; salutes to Johnny Otis, Big Joe Turner, and Sam Cooke and so much more.   The roots of rock were so well represented.  Without these people and the genres of music, there would be no rock and roll.

Elvis

There is a pretty cool section devoted to Elvis, who was one of the first 10 artists inducted into the Hall of Fame.  The Hall has a standing agreement with Graceland in Memphis (which is a museum in itself) and they send memorabilia to them often, so the exhibit changes often.  There was a very cool motorcycle that was custom-built for Elvis.  His gold sequins suit is there, and a jukebox which was given to him as a gift from RCA Records – it contains only Elvis records.  Also on display was a double Gibson guitar which he played in his film Spinout.

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The Summer of Love

With the 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love”, there were some very cool things here.  I saw groovy outfits from the Mama’s and the Papa’s, clothing from Jimi Hendrix, and the HUGE mixing board that was used to record some of Jimi’s music.

On thing I really liked to see was the various things that song lyrics were written on.  There were quite a few original pieces of paper where the beginnings of songs were scribbled.  There were also plenty of hotel pads of paper with lyrics on them.  Loved seeing where changes were made to lyrics.

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Cities and Sounds

I loved that there was a section of the hall that saluted cities and sounds.  There was a section devoted to Memphis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London and Liverpool, Seattle, and of course, Detroit.

In the Memphis section, there were plenty of neat things from Sun Records.  Johnny Cash, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison all recorded there.  To stand in front of Roy Orbison’s glasses and guitar was pretty awesome.  My earliest musical memories are of my dad playing Roy’s music for me.

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A nice tribute to Motown is here with stuff from Barry Gordy, The Supremes (you can see some of their dresses), Smokey Robinson, and the Temptations are all here.  They were playing the episode of To Tell The Truth with Barry Gordy as we walked through this section.

The Beatles and the Rolling Stones each have a nice section at the Hall.  I thought Mick Jagger of the Stones was taller, but standing by some of his outfits, he’s shorter than I thought.  There is the Asher family piano that Paul McCartney donated, some of John Lennon’s outfits, and the handwritten lyrics to “In My Life”.  A very cool documentary was playing in their section as well.

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I jumped ahead a bit because the next section was London and Liverpool.  There were some very neat things from the Yardbirds, Peter and Gordon, Herman’s Hermits and the Zombies too.  All in all a nice salute to the British Invasion.

San Fran featured stuff from The Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, while LA featured stuff from The Eagles, Jackson Brown, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young.  One cool thing here was a duffle bag full of hotel keys.  I don’t recall, but I think it said it belonged to one of the Eagles.  They basically kept the hotel key (and keychain) from every place they stayed while on tour.  The bag was stuffed full of some very cool looking keychains!

This section also had tributes to grunge music, punk music and a section called “Rave On” which focused on the “pioneers” of rock.  Those pioneers included Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, The Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly.  Soul Music was also spotlighted here with some awesome suits from James Brown, stuff from Aretha Franklin, pieces of the wreckage from Otis Redding’s plane crash, and Sam and Dave.  Featured in the soul section were two amazing things – guitars from Donald “Duck” Dunn and Steve “The Colonel” Cropper.  They played on almost every Atlantic and Stax record.  They were members of Booker T and the MG’s, and also played with the Blues Brothers.  Very cool to see!!!

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Don’t worry metal heads, there was a section for Heavy Metal too. Oh, and a section for Rap, as well.

Protests

When Rock and Roll started to make waves, it wasn’t too popular with folks.  We tend to forget the hatred toward the genre, but they had plenty of newscasts about burning records, and protests that happened.  It was weird to watch the hatred toward the Beatles and read hate mail to the Rolling Stones.  Other artists that were discussed in this section were Frank Zappa and ELO.

On the Radio

As a radio guy, it was cool to be able to walk up to an interactive touch screen and select a region of the US and then listen to old airchecks of DJ’s from different eras.  Naturally, I had to listen to some of the Detroit personalities:  Dick Purtain, Robin Seymour, and The Electrifying Mojo!  There were plenty of familiar names from all over the states and it was nice to get to listen to their stuff too.

The Power of Rock

On the third level, there was a wall with each “class” inducted into the Hall of Fame by year.  You could also go to a touch screen and search by class, by year, or by artist, and listen to their music.  SO many great songs!!!

The Power of Rock is a short film by Jonathan Demme which features many performances from past Hall of Fame inductions.  So many stars and so many great songs were in this film.  The theater had a light show and great sound for the film and it was almost like you were watching a concert live.  The film ends with Prince’s guitar solo on While My Guitar Gently Weeps – WOW!  Forgot how amazing that was!  They also had some of the great quotes on the walls of the hallway that you left the theater by.  Prince’s outfit from that show and other outfits were there as well.

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Rock on TV

It was also very cool to see some of the TV show memorabilia on this level.  You could go and record something about your favorite singer or album in special booths.  It was pretty cool to stand in front of Dick Clark’s American Bandstand podium!  His microphone was in a glass case with other things like the set design for the Beatles appearance on Ed Sullivan.  They had TV cameras there, Don Cornelius’ suit from Soul Train, outfits from the Jackson Five and Sonny & Cher and the coat worn by Davy Jones of the Monkees that he wore on The Brady Bunch.  There was also some cool musically related stuff from Saturday Night Live, and from various music videos we all watched on MTV.  It was neat to see Paul Shaffer’s keyboard that he played for so many years on the Late Show with David Letterman.

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On the Radio – LIVE

One thing I didn’t realize was that Sirius XM broadcasts their “Classic Vinyl” station out of the Hall of Fame.  Rachel Steele was on air when we went through.  There is a glass window that allows you to look into the studio and watch them broadcast.  I actually felt bad for her.  One thing radio people like is the fact that they can go in to work without really worrying about what to wear, because….who is going to see you!?  Whoever is on the air here, really has to “doll up” every day.

Over all, I loved every second of my visit here!  Any music lover would enjoy themselves!!  If you have never been …. you have to!

Christmas in March

The final stop on the trip was The Christmas Story House.  It is the house featured in the holiday classic.  They renamed the street “Cleveland Street” in honor of the movie.  The Leg Lamp proudly sits in the front window and the Bumpass House is next door.

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This is such an inexpensive treat!  The house looks a little different on the inside, but they have restored much of it to be exactly like it looks in the film, which took a bit because there were a few owners since the movie.

We were allowed to take as many pictures as we liked.  There was a guide who took us through the house and told some stories.  You can see the bathroom where Ralphie solves Little Orphan Annie’s secret message, you can see the many plugs the tree was plugged into, pick up the phone that Mrs. Parker calls Flick’s mom on, see the boy’s room, and see the damper in the kitchen that billows black smoke because of the “clinker” furnace.

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From the backyard you can see the steel mill (still in operation), which helped Jean Sheppard (the author) pick that particular house for the film.  Across the street is a museum with the actual Red Rider BB gun used in the film, outfits from the cast, Darren McGavin’s plaster life mask (used for make up and such), plenty of behind the scenes pictures, and the Old Man’s car.  The gift shop is full of great items and yes, you can purchase a pink bunny suit or a leg lamp (in various sizes).

Sam told me she’d buy me a bunny suit, but only if I wore it every Christmas!  Incidentally, if you have the $$, you can spend the night in the house or next door at the Bumpass house.

The trip was short, but full of good memories.  I love that we were able to do it and I love that we got to spend time with each other. It was the perfect anniversary trip.

Cleveland, does indeed, ROCK!

 

 

 

Christmas Songs I Can Do Without

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In order for my Christmas season to be “official”, I have to hear Bobby Helms “Jingle Bell Rock” in its entirety on the radio.  I’m not sure why, it just has always been the song that I have associated with the holiday.  Perhaps it was one of those songs that I remember hearing on the radio as a kid, I really don’t know.  I just know that it is the song that says “It’s Christmas time, Keith.”

Let me say this:  I love Christmas music.  As a DJ, I have played countless Christmas parties and have a huge tub of Christmas CD’s.  I have a huge variety of various formats:  Country Christmas songs, Pop Christmas songs, Novelty Christmas songs, and more. One of the radio stations I work for is actually playing all Christmas music right now and I enjoy doing an on air shift there.  All that being said, there are certain Christmas songs that I can do without!  Today’s short blog is a commentary about some of those songs.

Please Stop Playing These

  • “I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas” – I don’t care whether this is the original version or one of the countless remakes.  This song is just plain annoying.  This song makes me want to drive off the road when I hear it.  I cannot change the station fast enough when it comes on.  I have yet to understand what is so appealing about this song!
  • ANYTHING by the Mannheim Steamroller.  While I do appreciate improvisational music, there is nothing about their music that I find entertaining or worth listening to.  Let’s face it, the synthesizer died in the 80’s …. let’s put these songs to bed, too.
  • “Jingle Bells” by the Singing Dogs.  While we are at it, let’s add any Christmas songs done by cats, rabbits, ducks, ferrets, owls, pigs, or any other “musical animal”!  Stop it!  These awful songs deserve no place on the radio.
  • “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” – It sucked when it first came out.  I continues to suck.  Why is ok to play this song, in which grandma is MURDERED by Santa’s sleigh, but people are offended by a song that was recorded YEARS before the phrase “date rape” was even uttered claiming that is what the song is about (“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” for those unaware of that controversy)?
  • “Mistletoe” by Justin Beiber.  – It’s friggin’ Justin Beiber.  That is reason enough!
  • Jingle Bell Rock by Hall and Oates. As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, the original is a classic and a must hear for me.  I am not sure what it is about this version that makes me want to throw the radio out the window.  It is awful!  Perhaps it is just my love for the original that makes me hate this one so much, but probably not, as there are other versions of it that I like.  To me, it’s like listening to cats puking…..hell, I’d actually rather listen to that, than to listen to this.
  • Christmas Wrapping – The Singing Waitresses.  What the hell is this?  I understand that the Spice Girls recorded this too and I can’t imagine their version being any better.  This is probably the biggest waste of 3 minutes ever (with the exception of all Justin Beiber music).  This song is in a “hot” rotation on Sirius XM’s Holly channel.  This song needs to be go away forever!  I want to wrap it up in toilet paper and flush it away!
  • It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams.  It’s the most overplayed song of the season!!  I don’t mind hearing it every so often, but every 20 minutes is a bit much.
  • I am a HUGE Beatles fan – but I have to admit that “Happy Christmas” by John Lennon and “Wonderful Christmastime” are, outside of the previously mentioned Andy Williams song, played to death.  Yoko Ono singing on “Happy Christmas” is like fingernails on the chalkboard!  God!  Who ever told her she could sing – John, must have.  As for Sir Paul, he probably could never record again and live off the royalties from just that song they play it so much.  It’s not a bad song – neither of them are – they are just so overplayed!!!
  • ANYTHING by Pentatonix!!!  I LOVE acapella music!  I do.  When voices blend in good harmony, it is something amazing.  Check out Ricochet’s “Let It Snow” – it’s awesome!  I am not sure if the Pentatonix stuff is just overproduced, but it just sounds wrong to me.  Take the song Hallelujah…Rufus Wainwright’s version is perfect.  This version doesn’t sound right from the first note.  I guess this album is the “new” Bing Crosby album, as stores can’t seem to keep it in stock.  Personally, I’ll pass.
  • Dominick, the Donkey.  As an Italian, I am embarrassed by this song.  Lou Monte is one of the great Italian singers.  His song Lazy Mary was a hit and I danced with my grandmother to it at my first wedding.  Sadly, more people know Lou because of this piece of crap, than his hits!  Jingity jing….URGH!  Do the entire Italian community a favor and don’t ever play this again!!!

These are just a few of the songs that drive me insane.  I am sure if I sat and thought about it more, or just turned on the radio, I could list countless others.  For now, I will let you add to this list.  What Christmas songs do YOU hate and why?  I look forward to reading your responses.