Well, we’ve reached Christmas Eve, so in the spirit of generosity which befits the season I’m giving you four songs today, plus a special bonus that will, I’m sure, give you a few laughs. And watch out for the talented guy in the image of the day.
At the risk of appearing predictable, I always start Christmas Eve with this one. After all, when else could I play it?
That is so utterly beautiful and charming, and I never tire of it. As I said when I featured Mindy Smith on Day 9, you may be having vague recollections of her name after seeing this – go back as far as Tuesday Tunes 80 and you’ll find her providing the harmony vocals for the lovely John Prine song I gave you that week, Long Monday. This song was on Snowed In, the five track EP that Mindy released in 2013, comprising a couple of self-penned songs and some Christmas/New Year standards. I gave you one of the two she wrote in the previous post, and this is the other.
Having been spot on with my first song, this one is perhaps a day early. But I needed to find room for it somewhere!
The Band’s Christmas Must Be Tonight was originally recorded in 1975 for inclusion on their Northern Lights – Southern Cross album, but was left off the final release. It finally appeared on their 1977 album Islands, which was a contractual obligation album of unreleased material for Capitol Records, before their Last Waltz triple album came out on Warner Bros. It was the final album with their original line up, so there is a touch of poignancy about this one, which is a lovely narration of the Nativity story, from the perspective of a shepherd watching his flock – I think there may be a song about that…
When I gave you that beautiful song by The Killers on Day 15 I mentioned that I usually shared one of their more upbeat Christmas songs which, if you recall, were all recorded to raise money for the Product Red charity campaign, which raises funds for HIV/AIDS treatment and education in Africa. On reflection, I didn’t want to omit my usual choice, so this is the second act making a repeat appearance this year:
I couldn’t leave out that bit of lunacy, could I? Nothing says ‘Christmas’ quite like a bunch of cowboys inviting visitors from outer space into their Christmas hoedown, does it? What I hadn’t previously realised was that the lyrics of the song were taken from an 1890 poem of the same name by William Lawrence Chittenden. The Killers adapted the original poem slightly, changing its location of Texas for their native Nevada, and the space visitors in the video were their own invention – there’s no mention of them in the 1890 poem. How surprising! Like most of their Christmas singles, this was a modest chart entry here in the UK, reaching #112, but it didn’t make the US charts – only one of them ever did.
This is being rather self-indulgent, but I’m also bringing back a third act for a second visit to my Advent Calendar. Say ‘hello’ again to my favourite Russian folk band:
That is such a joyous sound that I couldn’t resist it! If the English subtitles aren’t visible, just click the ‘CC’ symbol on the video. Otava Yo, accompanied as before by the singers of Vasilisa, have been a big find for me over the past couple of years. I have yet to find a video of theirs I didn’t like, and even without subtitles they produce beauty and happiness in their music – what more could you want? This song, if you hadn’t realised, is entitled The Day Christ Was Born, and is a great way for me to (almost) finish today’s music.
I promised you a bonus video to make you laugh, didn’t I? Your patience is rewarded:
SNL posted that compilation of some of their Christmas sketches over the years just a couple of days ago, and it already has upwards of 730k views. It’s a little longer than the things I usually share, at just under nine minutes, but it is well worth your time – I especially enjoyed Steve Martin, but the rest is great too.
I’m doing something a little different for today’s image. Just admire this guy’s dancing skills and wonder how he does it:
I’ll be back again tomorrow for the big day. If you aren’t too busy with your own celebrations, I’d love to see you here again 🎊