Midweek Music Break: I Moderni, “Carol of the Bells”

[Video: “Carol of the Bells,” by I Moderni]

I Moderni — Italian for “The Modern” — was at the time they made this video an a-capella quartet who placed second in the fifth (2011) season of the Italian X-Factor series. (They’re now a trio.) I’m crippled in my search to learn much about them: every single thing I’ve found on the Web about them, so far, is in Italian. Of course I can use Google Chrome to automatically translate, but it’s tough going…

In any event, here’s their decidedly unconventional video take on this familiar onomatopoeic Christmas carol. The song has always struck me as almost obsessive, hypnotically so; it has “lyrics,” but after you’ve listened to or read even a few stanzas it’s hard not to think, like, It doesn’t matter what the words say. (Poe’s ode to bells can do the same number on you. Clearly, there’s something about bells…) In I Moderni’s video reading, the words go even further — into territory like this:

Let yourself to be taken over by the music, your attention to the the world will wander. This will allow the real truths of the world to come out and play, unobserved, unbound by the familiar, animated not by human preconceptions but by their absence.

I really like this. It’s not quite horror; these aren’t “Chucky”-type dolls. But it sure as hell doesn’t square with “reality,” whatever that is. The right word might be eldritch.

Send to Kindle
Share

A Quirky Eclectic Christmas Mix (2016 Ed.)

[Video: “The Wexford Carol,” performed by Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Kraus.]

Want to visit the pages for earlier playlists, which include videos, other songs, and some background material not in the “official” current list? Here y’go:

2008 2009
2010 2011
2012 2013
2014 2015

Let’s get right to it:

Per usual at this time of year, I’m adding ten songs to the previous years’ selections. These are presented in two ways, in two separate little audio-player thingums:

  • The complete playlist — now up to ninety songs total (about four and three-quarters hours’ worth).
    • The list plays straight through, from start to finish, in the order in which the songs were first presented here at RAMH.
    • but you can also pop out the playlist into its own, compact window. This lets you proceed to read through the rest of the post or use your browser for something else — or close it altogether — while the music’s playing. (Note that the pop-out window will automatically begin playing.)
    • If you’d prefer, you can also shuffle the complete list in random order, in a pop-out window, by clicking below:

      Pop Out to Shuffle!

  • OR you can simply play this year’s list of ten songs (about a half-hour in length). This is pretty straightforward: sequential order, no pop-out window, no shuffle mode.

In either case, or even if you don’t want to listen at all, you might want to glance at the complete current list of song titles and performers. (Note: this is just a listing; you cannot play music from it.)

Okay, here are the two player doo-dads — the complete, followed by the current…

A Quirky/Eclectic Christmas Mix (complete)

A Quirky/Eclectic Christmas Mix (2016 Only)

[Read more…]

Send to Kindle
Share

Midweek Music Break: Kelsie Saison, ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’

Kelsie SaisonWhen I’m putting together my annual list of Christmas music here, I draw most inspiration (of course) from my existing music collection. But I also try to keep my eyes open for other, newer sources; many music-marketing sites, for instance, offer Christmas music free or for a nominal charge, and these downloads often come from from interesting newcomers. That’s how I came across Kelsie Saison this year: at the NoiseTrade site for musicians and authors hoping to find an audience.

There’s not a whole lot of information online about Saison. She is, or recently was, a student at Belmont University, and she currently lives, or used to live, in Nashville (where Belmont’s located). The image posted here is the one featured almost exclusively on other sites. Her recordings are available from other sites as well as NoiseTrade — at SoundCloud, for instance. She’s got a Facebook page, and a Twitter account (at least, I think it’s hers)…

but the music — three EPs of Christmas music — all seems to have come out in 2013. That’s also when her last Facebook post appeared; her Twitter feed is more active, after a fashion, but even there she hasn’t posted anything for months.

Given the untimeliness of the little information I could find, I don’t know if we’ll ever get to hear more from her. But in the meantime, we’ve got the three EPs. “Just” Christmas tunes, as I said — with a twist: she plays the piano and sings, and it’s jazz: lightly swinging, slightly old-fashioned, easy-listening jazz.

Her voice naturally suggests, as her Facebook page says, that she’s fond of Ella Fitzgerald, Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Michael Buble, and Frank Sinatra. In today’s little gem, in particular, she seems to be channeling Fitzgerald: the song is a little over four minutes long, but she dispenses with the lyrics after the first ninety seconds or so. Thereafter, she scats through all but the last seconds of the remainder.

Scat singing is an interesting little back corner of music history. No one really knows where it came from, although theories abound. Louis Armstrong claimed to have invented it himself in 1926:

According to Armstrong, when he was recording “Heebie Jeebies,” soon to be a national bestseller, with his band The Hot Five, his music fell to the ground. Not knowing the lyrics to the song, he invented a gibberish melody to fill time, expecting the cut to be thrown out in the end, but that take of the song was the one released.

(Wikipedia)

Armstrong’s claim, like pretty much anyone else’s with a theory, almost certainly relies more on legend and “common sense” than on actual historic fact. Wherever it came from, scat just blends the concept of vocals with that of instrumentals: it turns the human voice into a purely auditory device. In that way, it extends the voice — a particularly potent technique, I think, when used by someone who plays an instrument in addition to singing. Says Barry Keith Grant in Representing Jazz, edited by Krin Gabbard:

Scatting, unlike vocalese, does not taint the music with the impurity of denotation… Just as one musician explained the title of Charlie Parker’s “Klacktoveedsedsteen” by declaring “It’s a sound, man. A sound,” so scat singing, in avoiding the use of words, is seen to strive for the abstraction, the purity, of the music itself.

By the standard expressed there, I think Kelsie Saison’s scatting through the second half of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!” (she uses an exclamation point there) succeeds very well. I love the way it sounds.

Send to Kindle
Share

A Quirky Eclectic Christmas Mix (2015 Ed.)

[Video: Anaïs Mitchell, “Song of the Magi”: a subtly subversive “Christmas carol” if I’ve ever heard one. (Lyrics)]

Want to visit the pages for earlier playlists, which include videos, other songs, and some background material not in the “official” list? Here y’go:

2008 2009
2010 2011
2012 2013
2014  

If you’ve visited RAMH at about this time in previous Decembers, you know (more or less) what to expect from this post. You probably don’t know it all though…

For starters, I’ve moved the text listing of all songs — which was taking up way too much space in the post itself — into a separate pop-up window. If you’d like to keep the complete current songlist open for reference in a separate window while the music plays, use this link. (This is just a simple text list of song titles and artists, not an actual player.)

One other (bigger) change here: the little audio-player gizmo has changed since 2014 (for reasons boring and technology-driven):

  • The song titles, alas!, now appear as grotesque file names rather than, y’know, good old English. You’ll still be able to glean the titles themselves, but still…
  • Play, pause, forward and reverse buttons — that stuff is still here.
  • …but the player now includes a “popout” feature, which opens up the player in a separate, smaller window of its own — good for tucking to the side, if you just want to keep the music in the background while you go off elsewhere on the Web.
  • Finally, if you’re observant, you’ll notice a more standard, more obvious way to obtain the current track for yourself — without requiring the secret RAMH “decoder ring” trick I’ve provided in the past.

Enough of all that. Here’s the little player doo-dad. (Note that the post itself continues on below it — if you need something to read in the meantime!)

A Quirky/Eclectic Christmas Mix (complete)

If you’re pressed for time, and/or just don’t want to (re-)listen to the earlier years’ selections, the similar gizmo which follows lets you listen to just 2015’s ten-song list, without having to fast-forward through earlier years’ lists:

A Quirky/Eclectic Christmas Mix (2015 Only)

Update: new feature

You can now open the full playlist in a separate window with “shuffle” mode enabled. This will begin playing as soon as the popout window open. (Some mobile devices/tablets disable the autoplay feature, though.)

Pop Out to Shuffle!

[Read more…]

Send to Kindle
Share

Midweek Music Break: “Jingle Bells?,” by Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand: 'A Christmas Album'

For some reason, this rendition of the classic song — from La Streisand’s 1967 Christmas album — has ended up on a number of “worst [or least favorite] Christmas songs” lists (e.g.). Maybe just because it’s a family favorite, though, I’ve never minded it at all. True, it’s not a song I’d want to hear over and over; few songs are. But a few times? No problem.

If you’re not familiar with it, the question mark in the title is mandatory. While it’s the same old song, melodically and lyrically, it actually resembles the same old song only in the way that, oh… in the way that Raymond Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man role) resembles an endearing old vicar tallying up the weekly church offerings. For this reason, unlike probably 90% of the covers I’ve encountered, it doesn’t have James Lord Pierpont or “Traditional” alone credited as its author. To his name are added two new ones, those of producer Jack Gold and arranger Marty Paich.

Pierpont’s probably not exactly rolling over in his grave, although he may be scratching his head.

For what it’s worth, I’ve belatedly added Streisand’s recording to this year’s Quirky Eclectic Christmas Mix, at position #68 overall (#8 for the year). This actually seems to have been a mistake: a couple days ago, I “realized” that I’d repeated one song from an earlier year — and inserted “Jingle Bells?” as its replacement. As it turns out, the mistake was not in this year’s Christmas mix, but in my burning of the earlier year’s CD, for offline listening. Ha!

[Below, click Play button to begin Jingle Bells?. While audio is playing, volume control appears at left — a row of little vertical bars. This clip is 1:52 long.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Send to Kindle
Share

A Quirky Eclectic Christmas Mix (2014 ed.)

[Video: note the bass with a truncated bottom. It’s called a Czech-Ease road bass, sold (and apparently designed) by one David Gage of New York. As for the performance, lauded by Penn Jillette as “a tiny little bit of perfect,” it really channels Patsy Cline, doesn’t it? (At the outset, you may wonder — as did I — where the plural “duelling bassES” comes from. Give it time — almost a minute.) For more information on Kate Davis, drop by her Web site. Elvis’s original version of the song is number 22 in the below list, from 2010.]

So: another year, another Christmas… Here (as I’ve done annually since 2008), I’ve added ten songs to the bottom of the previous years’ entries. As before, these artists and songs appear, back-to-back, in the following playlist:

Want to visit the pages for earlier playlists, which include videos, other songs, and some background material not in the “official” list? Here y’go:

— 2008: —

  1. Peter Robbins et al.: dialogue from A Charlie Brown Christmas
  2. Anonymous 4: Hodie Christus Natus Est
  3. Waverly Consort: Three Spanish Villancicos – Dadme Albcrecias
  4. Perry Como: Home for the Holidays
  5. Mannheim Steamroller: Joy to the World
  6. George Winston: The Holly and the Ivy
  7. Celtic Woman: O Holy Night
  8. John Denver and the Muppets: The Twelve Days of Christmas
  9. Al Hirt: Nutty Jingle Bells
  10. The Roches: Deck the Halls
    — 2009: —
  11. Charlotte Church: Mary’s Boy Child
  12. Madeleine Peyroux/k.d. lang: River
  13. George Winston: Variations on the Kanon
  14. Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops: The Toy Trumpet
  15. Eartha Kitt: Santa Baby
  16. Mannheim Steamroller: Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  17. Celtic Woman: The Wexford Carol
  18. The Brian Setzer Orchestra: Jingle Bells
  19. Jimmy Boyd: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
  20. Cumberland Gap Reunion: Silent Night
    — 2010: —
  21. Sam Phillips: Cold Dark Night (lyrics)
  22. Elvis Presley: Blue Christmas
  23. Loreena McKennitt: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (may be my favorite addition to this year’s list…)
  24. The Chipmunks: The Chipmunk Song
  25. Frank Sinatra: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  26. London Philharmonic Orchestra: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
  27. Tony Elman: Winter Creek
  28. Sara Groves: Toy Packaging (lyrics) (…and this may be my favorite for grins)
  29. Harry Belafonte: Mary’s Boy Child
  30. Ray Conniff Singers: Ring Christmas Bells
    — 2011: —
  31. Ralph Marterie and His Band: Dig That Crazy Santa Claus
  32. Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song
  33. The Indigo Girls: It Really Is (A Wonderful Life) (lyrics)
  34. Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers: Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town
  35. Dean Martin: Baby It’s Cold Outside (also see the wonderful American Songwriter writeup on the story of this song’s composition [thanks, Jules!])
  36. Ferrante and Teicher: Sleigh Ride
  37. Bo Dollis & Wild Magnolias: Shakana Santa Shake It
  38. Neil Diamond: Silver Bells
  39. Taverner Consort, Choir, & Players (Andrew Parrott, conductor): Branle de l’Officiel (Ding! Dong! Merrily on High)
  40. George Winston: Carol of the Bells
    — 2012: —
  41. Michael Tilson-Thomas & Philharmonia Orchestra: The Nutcracker (Overture)
  42. Vince Guaraldi Trio: O Tannenbaum
  43. Troy Hess: Christmas on the Moon (And don’t worry, it’s not just you: no one else seems to understand the lyrics (other than the refrain), either.* America’s Singing Souvenir Troy Hess was four years old when he recorded this in 1970. )
  44. Barbra Streisand: I Wonder as I Wander
  45. Frank Sinatra: Jingle Bells
  46. Al Hirt: Ave Maria
  47. Art Neville: Christmas Gumbo
  48. Ella Fitzgerald: Frosty the Snowman
  49. Dean Martin: I’ll Be Home for Christmas
  50. Choir of King’s College, Cambridge: Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht
    — 2013: —
  51. Knightsong: Christmas Is Coming
  52. Mannheim Steamroller: Pat-a-Pan
  53. Vienna Boys’ Choir: The Little Drummer Boy
  54. Tori Amos: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  55. Cumberland Gap Reunion: The First Noel
  56. I Soloisti di Zagreb & Antonio Janigro: Toy Symphony: I: Allegro
  57. Liuba María Hevia (Spanish-language site): Venid Fieles Todos (Adeste Fidelis) (probably my favorite track in this year’s mix)
  58. Corporal Blossom: White Christmas
  59. Perry Como: O Holy Night
  60. Enya: Oíche Chiúin [Chorale]
    — 2014: —
  61. George Winston: Some Children See Him
  62. She & Him: Baby It’s Cold Outside (this year’s favorite!)
  63. Bing Crosby: Winter Wonderland
  64. Barry Gordon: Nuttin’ for Christmas
  65. Mahalia Jackson: Go Tell It on the Mountain
  66. Bobby Helms: Jingle Bell Rock
  67. Ray Conniff & the Ray Conniff Singers: The Twelve Days of Christmas
  68. Barbra Streisand: Jingle Bells? (And yes, the question mark belongs there! You might be interested in the Midweek Music Break for this song, posted on December 24, 2014 — which explains why this number replaced the one I first included here.)
  69. Emmylou Harris: Light of the Stable
  70. Boston Pops Orchestra: The Nutcracker: Final Waltz

(Note: The playlist goes automatically from start to finish, once you click the little Play button. To fast-forward to the next number, once a song is playing you’ll find a little fast-forward button to the right of its progress meter. And a fast-rewind to the left, for that matter.)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

If you’re pressed for time, and/or just don’t want to (re-)listen to the earlier years’ selections, with the player gizmo below you can listen to just 2014’s ten-song list, without having to fast-forward to it through earlier lists. And as in the last couple of years, I’ve also given RAMH regulars (and anyone else who can figure it out!) the chance to use their secret right-bracket decoder rings, to listen to the playlist later without even visiting here. Here we go with the ten selections from this year only:

[2014 only

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

[Read more…]

Send to Kindle
Share

A Quirky Eclectic Christmas Mix (2013 ed.)

[Video: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (with She Her & I), “All I Want for Christmas…” See note at the bottom of this post for more information.]

As in every year beginning in 2008, I’ve added ten songs to the bottom of the previous years’ entries. As before, these artists and numbers appear, back-to-back, in the following playlist:

— 2008: —

  1. Peter Robbins et al.: dialogue from A Charlie Brown Christmas
  2. Anonymous 4: Hodie Christus Natus Est
  3. Waverly Consort: Three Spanish Villancicos – Dadme Albcrecias
  4. Perry Como: Home for the Holidays
  5. Mannheim Steamroller: Joy to the World
  6. George Winston: The Holly and the Ivy
  7. Celtic Woman: O Holy Night
  8. John Denver and the Muppets: The Twelve Days of Christmas
  9. Al Hirt: Nutty Jingle Bells
  10. The Roches: Deck the Halls
    — 2009: —
  11. Charlotte Church: Mary’s Boy Child
  12. Madeleine Peyroux/k.d. lang: River
  13. George Winston: Variations on the Kanon
  14. Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops: The Toy Trumpet
  15. Eartha Kitt: Santa Baby
  16. Mannheim Steamroller: Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  17. Celtic Woman: The Wexford Carol
  18. The Brian Setzer Orchestra: Jingle Bells
  19. Jimmy Boyd: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
  20. Cumberland Gap Reunion: Silent Night
    — 2010: —
  21. Sam Phillips: Cold Dark Night (lyrics)
  22. Elvis Presley: Blue Christmas
  23. Loreena McKennitt: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (may be my favorite addition to this year’s list…)
  24. The Chipmunks: The Chipmunk Song
  25. Frank Sinatra: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  26. London Philharmonic Orchestra: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
  27. Tony Elman: Winter Creek
  28. Sara Groves: Toy Packaging (lyrics) (…and this may be my favorite for grins)
  29. Harry Belafonte: Mary’s Boy Child
  30. Ray Conniff Singers: Ring Christmas Bells
    — 2011: —
  31. Ralph Marterie and His Band: Dig That Crazy Santa  Claus
  32. Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song
  33. The Indigo Girls: It Really Is (A Wonderful Life) (lyrics)
  34. Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers: Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town
  35. Dean Martin: Baby It’s Cold Outside (also see the wonderful American Songwriter writeup on the story of this song’s composition [thanks, Jules!])
  36. Ferrante and Teicher: Sleigh Ride
  37. Bo Dollis & Wild Magnolias: Shakana Santa Shake It
  38. Neil Diamond: Silver Bells
  39. Taverner Consort, Choir, & Players (Andrew Parrott, conductor): Branle de l’Officiel (Ding! Dong! Merrily on High)
  40. George Winston: Carol of the Bells
    — 2012: —
  41. Michael Tilson-Thomas & Philharmonia Orchestra: The Nutcracker (Overture)
  42. Vince Guaraldi Trio: O Tannenbaum
  43. Troy Hess: Christmas on the Moon (And don’t worry, it’s not just you: no one else seems to understand the lyrics (other than the refrain), either.* America’s Singing Souvenir Troy Hess was four years old when he recorded this in 1970. )
  44. Barbra Streisand: I Wonder as I Wander
  45. Frank Sinatra: Jingle Bells
  46. Al Hirt: Ave Maria
  47. Art Neville: Christmas Gumbo
  48. Ella Fitzgerald: Frosty the Snowman
  49. Dean Martin: I’ll Be Home for Christmas
  50. Choir of King’s College, Cambridge: Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht
    — 2013: —
  51. Knightsong: Christmas Is Coming
  52. Mannheim Steamroller: Pat-a-Pan
  53. Vienna Boys’ Choir: The Little Drummer Boy
  54. Tori Amos: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  55. Cumberland Gap Reunion: The First Noel
  56. I Soloisti di Zagreb & Antonio Janigro: Toy Symphony: I: Allegro
  57. Liuba María Hevia (Spanish-language site): Venid Fieles Todos (Adeste Fidelis) (probably my favorite track in this year’s mix)
  58. Corporal Blossom: White Christmas (see below for more information about this track)
  59. Perry Como: O Holy Night
  60. Enya: Oíche Chiúin [Chorale]

(Note: The playlist goes automatically from start to finish, once you click the little Play button. To fast-forward to the next number, once a song is playing you’ll find a little fast-forward button to the right of its progress meter. And a fast-rewind to the left, for that matter.)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

If you prefer, with the player gizmo below you can listen to just the current ten-song list, without having to fast-forward to it through earlier lists. And as in the last couple of years, I’ve also given RAMH regulars (and anyone else who can figure it out!) the chance to use their secret right-bracket decoder rings, to listen to the playlist later without even visiting here. Here we go with this year’s selections only:

[2013 only

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

[Read more…]

Send to Kindle
Share

A Quirky Eclectic Christmas Mix (2012 ed.)

'Christmas on the Moon,' performed by Troy Hess

[Image: “Christmas on the Moon” (1970), recorded — perhaps even written — by four-year-old Troy Hess]

Welcome to this year’s installment of what’s become an annual series here.

Once again, I’ve added ten songs to the bottom of the previous years’ entries. As before, these artists and numbers appear, back-to-back, in the following playlist:

— 2008: —

  1. Peter Robbins et al.: dialogue from A Charlie Brown Christmas
  2. Anonymous 4: Hodie Christus Natus Est
  3. Waverly Consort: Three Spanish Villancicos – Dadme Albcrecias
  4. Perry Como: Home for the Holidays
  5. Mannheim Steamroller: Joy to the World
  6. George Winston: The Holly and the Ivy
  7. Celtic Woman: O Holy Night
  8. John Denver and the Muppets: The Twelve Days of Christmas
  9. Al Hirt: Nutty Jingle Bells
  10. The Roches: Deck the Halls
    — 2009: —
  11. Charlotte Church: Mary’s Boy Child
  12. Madeleine Peyroux/k.d. lang: River
  13. George Winston: Variations on the Kanon
  14. Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops: The Toy Trumpet
  15. Eartha Kitt: Santa Baby
  16. Mannheim Steamroller: Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  17. Celtic Woman: The Wexford Carol
  18. The Brian Setzer Orchestra: Jingle Bells
  19. Jimmy Boyd: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
  20. Cumberland Gap Reunion: Silent Night
    — 2010: —
  21. Sam Phillips: Cold Dark Night (lyrics)
  22. Elvis Presley: Blue Christmas
  23. Loreena McKennitt: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (may be my favorite addition to this year’s list…)
  24. The Chipmunks: The Chipmunk Song
  25. Frank Sinatra: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  26. London Philharmonic Orchestra: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
  27. Tony Elman: Winter Creek
  28. Sara Groves: Toy Packaging (lyrics) (…and this may be my favorite for grins)
  29. Harry Belafonte: Mary’s Boy Child
  30. Ray Conniff Singers: Ring Christmas Bells
    — 2011: —
  31. Ralph Marterie and His Band: Dig That Crazy Santa  Claus
  32. Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song
  33. The Indigo Girls: It Really Is (A Wonderful Life) (lyrics)
  34. Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers: Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town
  35. Dean Martin: Baby It’s Cold Outside (also see the wonderful American Songwriter writeup on the story of this song’s composition [thanks, Jules!])
  36. Ferrante and Teicher: Sleigh Ride
  37. Bo Dollis & Wild Magnolias: Shakana Santa Shake It
  38. Neil Diamond: Silver Bells
  39. Taverner Consort, Choir, & Players (Andrew Parrott, conductor): Branle de l’Officiel (Ding! Dong! Merrily on High)
  40. George Winston: Carol of the Bells
    — 2012: —
  41. Michael Tilson-Thomas & Philharmonia Orchestra: The Nutcracker (Overture)
  42. Vince Guaraldi Trio: O Tannenbaum
  43. Troy Hess: Christmas on the Moon (And don’t worry, it’s not just you: no one else seems to understand the lyrics (other than the refrain), either.* America’s Singing Souvenir Troy Hess was four years old when he recorded this in 1970. )
  44. Barbra Streisand: I Wonder as I Wander
  45. Frank Sinatra: Jingle Bells
  46. Al Hirt: Ave Maria
  47. Art Neville: Christmas Gumbo
  48. Ella Fitzgerald: Frosty the Snowman
  49. Dean Martin: I’ll Be Home for Christmas
  50. Choir of King’s College, Cambridge: Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht

(Note: The playlist goes automatically from start to finish, once you click the little Play button. To fast-forward to the next number, once a song is playing you’ll find a little fast-forward button to the right of its progress meter. And a fast-rewind to the left, for that matter.)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Last year, I added the option of listening to just the current ten-song list, without having to fast-forward to it through earlier lists. And while I was at it, I gave RAMH regulars the chance to use their secret right-bracket decoder rings, to listen to the playlist later without even visiting here. (As I said then, I know — this isn’t exactly the sort of thinking to encourage return visits…) That seemed to work out pretty well, so here we go with this year’s selections only:

[2012 only

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

[Read more…]

Send to Kindle
Share

Midweek Music Break: [Unknown Artist], “[Unknown Christmas Song]”Mannheim Steamroller, “Kling Glöckchen”

Name That Tune
Yes, the “1” is a typo.

Update, 4:36pm EST: the mystery is solved! (See comments.)

You know how difficult it is to identify a song when you don’t know anything about it, except that you sorta-kinda like the way it sounds? Right: that difficult. And I’ve got such a song for you today…

Background: Some years ago, I had successfully ripped all of our many, many Christmas CDs to my computer, so I could set up an infinitely-repeating, ever-shuffled background playlist while I worked. Boy, that was great. (Because, y’know, even though one wants to hear Christmas music for only a couple-three weeks out of the year, during that period one really wants to hear it.)

Problems ensued, however — in particular, the problem of limited disk space. (We must have had twenty or more of these CDs at the time, and every year, it seemed, we’d add another.) I kept getting all of these warning messages from my PC that I needed to free up some space, or risk (a) crashing, (b) unsatisfactory performance, and/or (c) so on. My solution was ingenious,  or so I thought (never too busy for a self-inflicted pat on the back!): after the holiday season that year, I burned the entire shuffled Christmas playlist to as many CDs as it took. (It took fewer than the original, because I could cram 20-25 songs on a disk, unlike the manufacturers who included only a dozen or so.) I could just label the CDs like christmas 1, christmas 2, etc., because when I wanted to listen to CDs as opposed to music-on-the-hard-drive I’d probably be in the car and wouldn’t need song details.

…so, having burned the stack of CDs, I then — post-holiday, remember? — deleted all the Christmas music from my hard drive. Because I could always re-rip them as needed, right?

What a dummy. Because, as it happened, I just might not know the title or artist of a particular song. You know — the sort of information which is typically lost when you burn a music CD.

Which brings me to this week’s selection.

First solution: identify it via a lyrics search. Except I can’t make out the lyrics (other than the ting-a-ling-a-lings, and I’m not even sure of those). For a couple of minutes, I even dragged The Missus into the question. (Involving her in my personal and generally fleeting obsessions tends not to be fruitful for either of us, let alone for us together.) Maybe they’re in some other language???

I kinda remembered encountering an online music database that enabled you to search for a song using just the tune — by humming or whistling it, for instance. Maybe Musipedia, although I seem to remember it had a catchier name… I think I told a nephew about it… or maybe just scratched a note to myself… […mucks about in browser history and emails sent to himself to help him remember stuff later…] Oh, right: I think it was this one (although its feature list seems to have shrunk). But so far I’ve had no luck with either.

So that’s today’s dilemma. Anyone know what this song is?

[Below, click Play button to begin [Unknown Christmas Song]. While audio is playing, volume control appears at left — a row of little vertical bars. This clip is 1:51 long.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Send to Kindle
Share

A Quirky Eclectic Christmas Mix (2011 ed.)

[Image (click to enlarge) from xkcd, where its little pop-up title reads, “An ‘American tradition’ is anything that happened to a baby boomer twice” — ha!]

Today’s mid-week music break continues an annual series, with a couple of twists…

Once again, I’ve added ten songs to the bottom of the previous years’ entries. (And I continue to worry, probably needlessly, about the robustness of the little WordPress audio-player gadget I use.)

As before, these artists and numbers appear, back-to-back, in the following playlist:

— 2008: —

  1. Peter Robbins et al.: dialogue from A Charlie Brown Christmas
  2. Anonymous 4: Hodie Christus Natus Est
  3. Waverly Consort: Three Spanish Villancicos – Dadme Albcrecias
  4. Perry Como: Home for the Holidays
  5. Mannheim Steamroller: Joy to the World
  6. George Winston: The Holly and the Ivy
  7. Celtic Woman: O Holy Night
  8. John Denver and the Muppets: The Twelve Days of Christmas
  9. Al Hirt: Nutty Jingle Bells
  10. The Roches: Deck the Halls
    — 2009: —
  11. Charlotte Church: Mary’s Boy Child
  12. Madeleine Peyroux/k.d. lang: River
  13. George Winston: Variations on the Kanon
  14. Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops: The Toy Trumpet
  15. Eartha Kitt: Santa Baby
  16. Mannheim Steamroller: Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  17. Celtic Woman: The Wexford Carol
  18. The Brian Setzer Orchestra: Jingle Bells
  19. Jimmy Boyd: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
  20. Cumberland Gap Reunion: Silent Night
    — 2010: —
  21. Sam Phillips: Cold Dark Night (lyrics)
  22. Elvis Presley: Blue Christmas
  23. Loreena McKennitt: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (may be my favorite addition to this year’s list…)
  24. The Chipmunks: The Chipmunk Song
  25. Frank Sinatra: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  26. London Philharmonic Orchestra: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
  27. Tony Elman: Winter Creek
  28. Sara Groves: Toy Packaging (lyrics) (…and this may be my favorite for grins)
  29. Harry Belafonte: Mary’s Boy Child
  30. Ray Conniff Singers: Ring Christmas Bells
    — 2011: —
  31. Ralph Marterie and His Band: Dig That Crazy Santa  Claus
  32. Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song
  33. The Indigo Girls: It Really Is (A Wonderful Life) (lyrics)
  34. Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers: Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town
  35. Dean Martin: Baby It’s Cold Outside (also see the wonderful American Songwriter writeup on the story of this song’s composition [thanks, Jules!])
  36. Ferrante and Teicher: Sleigh Ride
  37. Bo Dollis & Wild Magnolias: Shakana Santa Shake It
  38. Neil Diamond: Silver Bells
  39. Taverner Consort, Choir, & Players (Andrew Parrott, conductor): Branle de l’Officiel (Ding! Dong! Merrily on High)
  40. George Winston: Carol of the Bells

(Note: The playlist goes automatically from start to finish, once you click the little Play button. To fast-forward to the next number, once a song is playing you’ll find a little fast-forward button to the right of its progress meter. And a fast-rewind to the left, for that matter.)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

This year, I thought I’d also give you the option of just listening to the current ten-song list, without having to fast-forward to it. And while I was at it, why not provide RAMH regulars the chance to use their secret right-bracket decoder rings, so they could listen to the playlist later without even visiting here? (Yeah, I know — this isn’t exactly the sort of thinking to encourage return visits…)

[2011 only

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

[Read more…]

Send to Kindle
Share