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.)

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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

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Whew. I don’t know about you, but after that last triplet of songs I’ve got bells on the brain. Maybe I can drive them out by overloading the senses a little further… The video below shows what my source dubbed “the busiest handbell choir you’ve ever seen”; they’re here performing Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” — maybe the most popular Christmas-song-which-technically-isn’t-a-Christmas-song:

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  1. Well, okay, one more bell-related thing… a video mashup of “Carol of the Bells” and “God Rest Ye Merrie Gentlemen,” arranged for twelve cellos — but played by one. I don’t know if this guy actually filmed it in twelve different locations, but I sorta hope so.

  2. The caption of the cartoon reminded me of an article I read recently in Vanity Fair about how culture isn’t changing much these days… http://www.vanityfair.com/style/2012/01/prisoners-of-style-201201

    • That’s a pretty good article. The Missus could certainly tell you my own personal style has been trapped in a bubble for that long, which is as long as she’s known me. (And I could add that it goes back further.)

      But the way he structured it at the very end — “Maybe what we’re experiencing now is [good outcome]. Or maybe it’s [bad outcome]” — would have been better, I think, if he’d switched the order of those two alternatives. His way makes the overall effect too pessimistic (another 20-year posture).

  3. A great Christmas present! Thank you, John.

    As always, there is so much additional treasure scattered around here in the links. A nugget of purest gold hiding in Dean Martin’s coat-tails has instigated a post of my own for Christmas Eve.

    Best wishes to you and the family for Christmas and the New Year!

    • I am so glad you like it, my friend.

      And wasn’t that a great story about “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”? Looking forward to seeing what you do with it tomorrow!

      I know this can be an emotionally complicated time of year for a lot of people, even (or especially) those who might seem most safely insulated by distance from all the complication. I trust you’ll be able to pick up enough of the ol’ Holiday Good Vibes to suit you, courtesy of the Internet, and just enjoy the bejeezus out of the next week-plus.

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, Froog!

      • Thank you, John, I’ll do my best.

        ReCaptcha has given me a name for the first time in ages: Natalia Mépris

        Perhaps it means something?

        • I found both names on a page (here), about a perfume advertisement. The name of the actress/model it features: Natalia Vodianova. And the page’s author adds (regarding the French voiceover):

          Then again, the immortal dialogue from Godart’s Le Mépris with Brigitte Bardot, reprised in Chanel’s latest lipstick commercial for Rouge Allure, is rather unsurpasable…

          (The original has a couple of links in it, to other YouTube videos. Mépris, apparently, is French for contempt!)

          All of which makes me wonder — of all things — if reCaptcha commonly grabs both bits of text from the same source (at least when they’re not random text strings!).


  5. You are the most musically generous friend I have. Thank you, John!

    • Generosity comes easily to anyone whose friends are generous with their gratitude.

      (I know, I know — this could go on for days, rhythmically back-and-forth like Groucho’s line in A Night at the Opera: “Mrs Claypool, Mr. Gottlieb; Mr Gottlieb, Mrs Claypool; Mrs Claypool, Mr Gottlieb; Mr Gottlieb, Mrs Claypool… (If you four people want to play bridge, don’t mind me, go right ahead.)”)

  6. I worry that I should keep quiet about these things! I shouldn’t be sending you off on another 20-minute careen around the Internet (where can I find that clip with English subtitles) when you probably have all sorts of real world chores to be done in preparation for the holiday weekend.

    • Oh, not to worry. It had been one heck of a week at work; by the time yesterday afternoon rolled around, with the building half-empty (or half-full, if you will) of fellow employees, my last (known) responsibility of the week dispatched, I desperately needed a break.

      Plus, y’know, I spend an awful lot of time inside my own head, trapped by my own preoccupations. You have a special gift for sharing stray questions which interest me, too — but which I haven’t thought about on my own. You’re like an interior designer who shows up every now and then with a saw in one hand and a window frame in the other: Hi. I’m here to let a little air into this place — how about over here?

  7. John, Froog, I’m so happy you two found each other. It is friendships like yours that justify the internet.

    Merry Christmas :)

    • Thanks — I know what you mean!

      Funnily enough, Froog and I met via the old Editorial Ass blog — you probably at least knew of it, given your own publishing-world background. In 2008 Moonrat, the blog’s curator, asked for volunteers to write up narratives about their favorite books, which she would post there in a “Celebrate Reading” series. I did one about Catch-22. In the ensuing comments, I mentioned that Richard Benjamin had been a good choice for the role of Chaplain Tappman, in the film version. Froog did a sort of throat-clearing reply to that comment (I’ve since come to recognize the tone), pointing out that Anthony Perkins had played the chaplain, and Benjamin, flight officer Major Danby.

      Well, damn, I thought. I hopped on over to Froogville — probably with the intention of catching him in a similar misstep. Which of course never happened. :)

  8. hahahaha I’m sure Moonrat is absolutely thrilled she was able to bring two such kindred souls together.

  9. Thank you both for the kind words. Moonrat has indeed been a remarkable online matchmaker!

    I hope the holiday weekend is going well for you both. I expect to see photographs of everything Whaddayamean has eaten on Monday.

    ReCaptcha – eternally playful little imp that it is – has moved on to history prompts. 1550-1850, it says, as if challenging me to summarise the major social and technological developments of those three hundred years.

  10. While we in the UK recognise most of the ’50s Christmas songs from the States, it just now occurs to me that the big explosion of Christmas songs for us occurred in the 1970s. Our baby boomers only discovered this particular vein of sentimentality when they were starting to have kids themselves?

  11. I’m setting this up for the children to hear as they descend the garland bedecked stairway this magical morning (they’re going to love the Charlie Brown opening). Praise be for teenagers who sleep in late–even on Christmas day!

    And praise for John, too! Thank you so much for this very thoughtful present. Merry Christmas! :)

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