Archive

Posts Tagged ‘#ChristmasBells’

A #ChristmasSongOfTheDay Part Two

December 12, 2018 22 comments

As promised, here is the second compilation of Christmas songs which I have been posting each day on Twitter and on the Facebook page for my blog (usual plug – eyes right!). This also marks the day when I swap to a temporary Christmas theme for the blog – rather in keeping with the generally happy and festive posts I’m sharing this month (back to the usual misery in January!).

We all have our favourites and it would be very easy for me to post the same songs every year. Whilst the majority of this year’s selection have indeed featured at least once before in the four previous years in which I’ve done this, it’s always good to find something new. Sometimes these can arise from deliberate searches for artists on YouTube – often to see if there is a video for something I’ve heard on Apple Music – and on other occasions I just stumble into them! Day 7 was a case in point. This was someone of whom I’d never heard before, but I was rather taken by this one. It ranks at the Stinking Bishop end of cheesiness but is so much fun that I had to include it:

I was intrigued to learn more about Si Cranstoun, so I consulted the oracle – Google – which led me to a short Wikipedia article. What an interesting character! He had apparently been in ska and fifties revival bands, and had been a busker too, for twenty years before getting his first record deal a few years back. He has since made several albums of fifties-influenced songs, and his sheer exuberance deserves to win him a bigger audience – I hope he finds it, because his music is so much more fun than the dross we get on the radio nowadays! There are a number of other videos of him on YouTube, including some from his busking days, so do check him out if you enjoyed this one.

As the 8th was a Saturday, when many would no doubt have been braving the high street in search of Christmas goodies, I thought I’d choose something appropriate to help them on their way. Or maybe not! Tom Lehrer was a consummate writer and performer of satirical songs, and his Christmas offering is a little gem:

Lehrer only wrote 37 songs and performed just 109 times in a twenty year musical career – his day job was as a mathematics professor – but his fame and recognition grew slowly as people told each other about him. He once described it as having spread ‘like herpes, rather than Ebola’ which gives you an idea of his wit and style! He has long since retired from his ‘proper’ career as well as his sideline, but is apparently still enjoying life at the grand old age of 90. I fear that his style is unlikely to be popular today but he was rather good with words: try I Hold Your Hand In Mine or Poisoning Pigeons In The Park and you’ll see what I mean! Maybe we could get a Lehrer revival going, though I dread to think what he’d write about modern day politics on both sides of the Atlantic!

I usually try to post something more relaxed or traditional for a Sunday, like a carol, for instance. I’ve not shared this one before but it seemed to tick all of the boxes for day 9:

I’ve long been a fan of Alison Krauss – she has a beautiful voice and her brand of bluegrass music is very much to my liking. She has made several sorties into other types of music – notably on Raising Sand, the album she made with Robert Plant, formerly the lead singer of Led Zeppelin. That album won five Grammy awards – just a few of the twenty seven she has won to date! I also enjoy classical crossover as a genre, and this is a perfect example of the blending of styles that seems to come naturally to great musicians.

I marked day 10 with a bit of silliness from the best band I’ve ever seen live. Sadly, they split up in 2016, after more than ten years of making hugely enjoyable music and performing some occasionally outrageous live shows – their anti-Valentine’s Day show several years ago is still the only folk music gig I’ve attended where burlesque dancers were part of the show! This song made the BBC Radio 2 playlist on release, but didn’t trouble the charts – a pity, as it would have livened them up a bit. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the inimitable Bellowhead:

No one sleeps while they’re on!

Although, as I’ve said, I try to avoid chart hits – and my musical taste doesn’t really include many of them anyway – I do make the odd notable exception. This one, which I posted for day 11, is from one of my many favourite bands. It goes back to the 1970s when it seemed that everyone was making a Christmas record, many of dubious and variable quality. This is, I think, the only one of Jethro Tull’s three Christmas singles that charted, and they also recorded an entire album of seasonal music. I love this song, and this special promotional video that was made to accompany it on TV fits it perfectly:

And finally, for Part Two of this compilation, here is the song I posted today:

I bought the Band’s first album, Music From Big Pink, when it was first released, and played it to the point where the vinyl was almost transparent! There was just something about them, the songs they wrote, and the plaintive rawness of their performance that really got to me. This song was released on their album Islands in 1977, and typifies so much of what I like about them. There is a beauty and simplicity in the lyrics and the laid back musicianship that, to me, are very fitting for a Christmas song, and this seems a good point at which to conclude my Part Two. I’ll be back again next Tuesday with Part Three and hope to see you again then. In the meantime, you can see and hear each day’s song on my Facebook page and my Twitter feed, if you’d like to keep up to date – just click the links to the right if you don’t already follow me on either or both. If you do you’ll also see posts shared from my Instagram #AdventCalendar, though maybe the less said about that the better!

I hope your pre-Christmas is going well, and look forward to seeing you again next time.

Advertisements

It’s Christmas!!! (Well, almost…..)

December 22, 2013 7 comments

I love Christmas. There, I’ve outed myself and it feels good. I don’t mind admitting that I’ve always loved this time of year and, although I’m not particularly religious, I recognise the importance of this time for so many. Christmas nowadays is a rampantly commercial affair and I’m as guilty as the next person in contributing to this – although I do as much as I can from the safety of my home and computer though! I don’t have an open fire to sit in front of and on which I can roast my chestnuts, and as music is such a large part of my life I thought it would be a good way to mark the season by compiling a YouTube playlist. A humongous market has developed for music to celebrate Christmas, from the religious and spiritual to the frivolous and commercial, and with so many to choose from I decided that any attempt at comprehensiveness was doomed to failure. I have therefore restricted myself to some favourites and a few obvious and less obvious choices. This has resulted in what I think is an eclectic mix, which I am splitting into two parts. I shall be posting again on Christmas Day with a selection of carols but for part one here’s a random selection which I hope will entertain you. I was going to embed the entire playlist but as there are 33 videos on it lasting almost three hours I thought it fairer to let you choose for yourself! I hope there’s at least one in there that you like! To give you a taste of what you can find, I’m sharing a few here too.

The playlist isn’t really in any order, though I have put my favourite live band first. Bellowhead are probably unknown to anyone not interested in folk music but I can highly recommend their gigs if you like to be entertained and have fun. This video – made on a ‘no expenses provided’ budget – is so typical of them and is simply great fun:

I defy anyone to watch that without tapping their toes and smiling!

I also wanted to highlight a couple of other less well-known artists. This next song, with an accompanying ‘home made’ video, is by Mindy Smith from her new EP Snowed In and is just beautiful:

If you liked that, and I hope you did, the title track from the EP is further down the list.

I also hope you like this next one. The song Let It Snow is an old standard and has been covered countless times. Whilst it may conjure up images of the old style crooners in woolly jumpers, sitting in front of a log fire smashed out of their brains on whisky, it can be done in other ways. This version, by Brynn Andre, came out last year and in my very very ‘umble opinion is the best I’ve ever heard – by miles! The video is lovely too:

Those who know me will be aware of my admiration for the band Walk Off The Earth and their videos. Here’s one which by their standards is very simple, but conveys their usual spirit of fun and good vibrations (no, not that one):

Now, to close this post, a trio of songs without which a Christmas playlist would be totally inadequate. The first two date back to the mass explosion of Christmas pop songs in the 1970s, when it suddenly became cool to have a Christmas hit. Although there are a couple of others on my list, these two are the ones most people know. Firstly, a Wizzard Christmas:

And then, of course, the song which still makes the band a cool £500,000 in royalties every Christmas – and it’s been around for 40 years! IT’S CHRISTMAS!!

The last one for this selection is, I think, my favourite Christmas song:

You may disagree with my choice but do take a look at the whole playlist as I’m sure you’ll find something there to brighten up your Christmas. After all, there are another 25 songs and a whole TV show there, so the odds must be good! Enjoy the music! I hope your preparations for the big day go well, and I’ll see you again on Christmas Day.

%d bloggers like this: