#ChristmasSongOfTheDay 2019 – Part Three

Welcome back to my series of catch up posts for the #ChristmasSongOfTheDay that I am posting on Twitter and on the Facebook page for this blog. Today I’m taking you through days 14 to 19, which will leave one more collection to come.

Last Saturday – day 14 – I returned to a song that I have included before, as I think it is one of the most beautiful modern day Christmas songs. It is by Jackson Browne, who is one of my favourite artists and, I think, ranks at the very top of the list of singer-songwriters. I was fortunate enough to see him play live in 2010, at the Royal Albert Hall in London. It was a wonderful show but, as it was in June, i.e.  the wrong time of year, this one wasn’t on the set list. Nevertheless, as its time has now come I’m happy to share it:

I hadn’t realised it at the time but Jackson is a regular visitor to the RAH, since his debut in 1994: he is scheduled to play there again next year, which will be his 16th appearance. I think they like him too!

That was Jackson’s own version of his song which, as far as I know, has only ever been issued on the 1997 compilation The Next Voice You Hear. He did, however, do a version with the Chieftains for their 1991 album The Bells Of Dublin. In my best DJ fashion, I’m now making a segue into another track from that album, which I shared on the 15th. Smooth link, huh? I always try to post a version of a Christmas Carol on Advent Sundays, and this was always one of my favourites when I was growing up, and was a more regular churchgoer than I am nowadays. I think Marianne Faithfull and the Chieftains do a lovely job with it:

My selection for Monday 16th was one that I have included for all five years that I have been doing this. As before, I make no apology for the repetition: there is a reason for it, and that is because I like it! This is by far the best version I have ever heard of a Christmas standard which is probably most associated with the crooners in their cheesy jumpers. This version really brings out the song’s beauty, and the accompanying video is a perfect fit in creating the mood. You may not have heard of the singer – Brynn Andre – before, and you could be forgiven for this. She made an album in 2009, then another one and a couple of EPs in 2012 – this is the title track of one of those EPs. Since then she has largely been absent from the recording scene, having become a personal life coach instead. But she returned with a couple of collaborations last year, and a new single of her own this past summer. I’m hoping that she will give us more: her lovely voice deserves to be heard more widely.

Tuesday’s song was another that was returning, although only for its second appearance. I think I’m pretty safe in saying that it is the only one of these songs to be performed by a Nobel Laureate! Bob Dylan released a Christmas album in 2009 – Christmas In The Heart – and this is his version of a song that has been around since the 1940s. It was also covered recently by Bryan Adams on his Christmas EP but I much prefer Dylan’s version, with this utterly bonkers video:

Yesterday’s song was one which I have featured most years that I’ve done this. You may know the Killers from their many hit albums and singles, but were you aware that they issued a series of Christmas singles for eight years or so? These were all done to raise money for The Killers’ Christmas Charity, and no doubt they have done a huge amount of good. This one, from 2011, is my favourite, because nothing says Christmas quite like cowboys and robot spacemen, does it:

For today I chose a song I’ve never featured before, though it isn’t exactly new! Those of us of a certain age are probably familiar with Phil Spector’s Christmas album, but of a similar vintage (1964) is the lesser known Beach Boys’ Christmas Album. This sad tale of a little boy’s experience with a department store’s ‘Santa’ will probably echo with many – and it is a piece of classic Beach Boys, so is well worth including, I think:

I’ve rounded off my two previous posts in this series by sharing the wonderful Christmas adverts made by Hafod Hardware, a local shop in Rhayader, in Wales. They have produced three of these now (although I did find an earlier, more prosaic one). I began with this year’s, then went back to 2017. This is the middle one in the sandwich, from 2018, and shares all the charm of the other two, including a ‘vocal’ role for little Arthur at the end:

Isn’t that lovely? As before, the Jones family have shown excellent taste in choosing music from Andrea Von Kampen to accompany their advert: this song is on her Christmas Project EP from 2016. As I said last time, I recommend her highly: she has a beautiful voice and writes good songs of her own, too.

I’ll be posting again on Saturday, with an updated version of last year’s piece for the Winter Solstice, and then again with the concluding part of this series on Christmas Day. Hopefully I’ll see you again for both of those. And, if you haven’t already done it, a timely reminder that you should be putting the sprouts on if you don’t want to be too late…..

A #ChristmasSongOfTheDay Part Three

We’re getting closer to the big day, aren’t we! This is, as the title suggests, the third part of my compilation of daily song posts, and offers the usual melange dredged from the canyons of my mind (bonus brownie points to anyone who got that reference!). Today, I’m refreshing you on days 13 up to day 18 – which, in case you hadn’t noticed, is today. Time to get those sprouts on!

For the 13th I went back to my musical roots. Deep down, I am at heart a folkie, and have long loved the music of bands like Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention, which is where the English folk-rock genre really began, in the late 60s. The driving force behind Steeleye has been their singer, Maddy Prior, and I’ve been lucky enough to see the band (I think) six times, going right back to late 1970. For a good many years now Maddy has also run a side project – Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band – who tour at Christmas. This year is no exception: they are still going strong. A new video popped up on YouTube a few days ago: I’m not sure when the performance is actually from, but it looks fairly recent. This is their version of a well known carol, and it is simply joyous:

This is actually the fifth year that I’ve done this – although only the second here on the blog – and very few songs have featured every year. My choice for day 14 is one of that select group: it is from Blue, one of the best albums ever made, by one of the best singer-songwriters ever. The version I’ve previously shared was accompanied by a video of Snoopy skating, which was a perfect fit, but sadly that one has now been withdrawn for copyright reasons: the word that springs to mind is ‘snowflakes!’ The song is still just as brilliant, though, and this video is a good substitute for Snoopy. Here is the wonderful Joni Mitchell:

Day 15 went down a rather different track. Although they haven’t done it recently, the rock band The Killers produced a Christmas song each year for about eight years. Proceeds were donated to charity – I think that is a rather wonderful thing to do, and deserving of mention in my dispatches. This is my favourite of their collection because, well, nothing says ‘Christmas’ quite like cowboys and robot spacemen, does it?

As the 16th was a Sunday I followed my usual practice of selecting a carol. I’ve featured this one before, but not this version. I really can’t think why, as I loved this duo’s music during their short time together as a partnership. They made two excellent albums plus a one-off seasonal single, which featured this as its B-side. The carol is familiar, I’m sure, but I doubt there are many versions which even come close to the heartbreaking beauty and simplicity of the Civil Wars:

Having regretted the musical demise of one favourite, I think I applied my hex on my choice for the 17th too. You probably won’t have heard of Brynn Andre, and she hasn’t been active on the music scene very much for quite some time, having made two lovely albums and an EP going back nearly ten years. Her Twitter feed describes her as a ‘coach for the modern girl’ with no mention of music in her bio – it has been inactive since 2014 anyway. She did pop up doing some live shows in 2014 with an unfulfilled promise of new recordings, and provided the vocals last year for a song by a band called We Are. I live in hope! It says on the video that the song is from an EP entitled Holiday, but until yesterday I’d been unable to find it, other than in this YouTube video version. Having donned my deerstalker I finally managed to locate it as the title track of a three song free download on Bandcamp, so I’m now a very happy bunny! It’s an old standard, but she breathes new life into it, with a lovely evocative video to match. This is another of the select few songs which I’ve featured in all five years of my #ChristmasSongOfTheDay, and I think you’ll see why:

My selection for today takes us back to the mainstream. This is one of the few of my choices which has appeared in the music charts, reaching no.6 in the US and no.9 in the UK (as a double A-side with My Hometown) in 1985, but it is difficult to leave out the Boss (no, not those Sugar and Numpty Trumpty guys, someone more deserving of the title!). Again, this is a pop Christmas standard, but I think this version is great! It’s happy, and that’s what Christmas should be:

So, that’s a wrap for today. I’ll be back on Christmas Day with the final selection of eight more songs to take us up to the full complement of 26. Yes, I know there are 25 days in the usual Advent Calendar but this is mine so I can do it how I like! I get to a final total of 26 by giving you a bonus extra song on Christmas Day – alright, I admit it, it’s more to do with indecision than seasonal goodwill, but I hope you won’t complain!

There will also be an additional post as part of my musical advent this year. For the first time I’m doing a little something extra which will feature here on Friday, and I hope to see you again then. In the meantime, stay well and happy, and mind those sprouts 😉

#ChristmasSongADay – Part 2

Keeping to my plan, for once, here is the second part of my Advent Calendar of Christmas songs that I have been sharing with Twitter followers and Facebook friends. Should you feel an uncontrollable urge to join either of those select groupings, the necessary buttons can be found to the right – and that way, you could enjoy the songs as I publish them, rather than having to await the retrospectives. Just a thought!

This collection covers days 7 to 12 and is, as usual, a fairly mixed bunch. I’m hoping that many – if not all – will be new to you, and am keeping my fingers crossed that there is at least one that you like.

On the 7th, I posted a song by the American/Irish band, Dropkick Murphys. This is, to say the least, a piece of irreverent fun. They’re a bit of an acquired taste, and the singer’s voice probably wouldn’t count as ‘dulcet,’ but they do make some great songs and videos. This one is a hoot right the way through:

I slowed the pace a little for the next choice. Brynn Andre is one of those singers who has made some lovely music without ever getting the support and following that she deserves. Sadly, it is a number of years since she released an album. I looked at her website and it seems she is restricting her musical appearances nowadays to performing at weddings. Her voice and songs deserve a wider audience. She previously made just the two albums – this is her version of a very well known Christmas standard, which doesn’t actually appear on either of her records. I absolutely love her version and the accompanying video is very sweet:

You may recall that when I brought back my #SaturdaySongs series a couple of months ago the second new post was my tribute to the sad passing of Tom Petty. You can find it here if you missed it, or would like another look. So far, all of the Christmas songs I had featured had appeared at least once before in the two previous years that I’ve done this, but when I found this one it was an easy choice to make it my first new one for this year. Filmed at the White House as part of a tv special, back in the days when they had a proper President, it is a nice little piece of nostalgia:

For Sunday 10th I posted a suitably mellow song. This is another making its first appearance in my selection this year. Most people will probably only know of the band from the original line up and their two classic songs Free Bird and Sweet Home Alabama. This incarnation of the band broke up after Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines were killed in a plane crash in October 1977, but the band reformed ten years later and this is actually the title track from their eleventh studio album, released in 2000. It is quintessentially Lynyrd Skynyrd, both in terms of pace and vocals, and if I do this again next year, I think this one is a keeper:

Yesterday’s choice was also a new one, for the simple reason that it has only just been released. You may not be aware of the English folk singer Kate Rusby, but I hope this enchants you enough to explore her music further. She comes from Yorkshire, as you can probably tell from her accent, and grew up with the strong local tradition of carol singing. Her latest album is the fourth she has released of seasonal songs – quite appropriate that she does this, as she has the voice of an angel. She created the character of Big Brave Bill, a kind of Yorkshire superhero, for a song on her most recent non-seasonal album, released in 2016, and here he is with his very own Christmas song. The animated video is charming, right the way through to Kate herself at the end:

I got a ‘like’ on Twitter from the lady herself for posting that, so I guess I’m doing something right! Kate will be making another appearance before Christmas – I’ll be bestowing on her the honour accorded to a select few of having two songs in my choices. With any luck, she’ll be reet chuffed!

For today’s song I’ve chosen the most serious of my selection. I’ve loved Jackson Browne’s music since his career started 45 years ago, I have all of his albums and have been lucky enough to see him play live. To my knowledge, this only appears on The Next Voice You Hear as a new, bonus track on that compilation album. That someone can add something like this as a one-off is, to me, astounding. This is a powerful song, haunting and beautiful, with a message we would all do well to heed:

So, that’s the second batch of six all done and dusted. As I said at the beginning, I’m hoping that there will be at least one among them that you enjoy, even if all six aren’t to your taste. Enjoy your Christmas preparations, and I’ll see you again for Part 3.