12/21/21 And So 2021 Comes To An End

December 31, 2021

It’s 8:00pm and you’re either getting ready for bed or getting ready to go out (I’m in the first category) so I’ll get right to it.

I’ll feature three original New Year’s songs tonight and Marc Martel’s Auld Lang Syne.

I discovered Darren Criss’ outstanding new Christmas record too late for this year — but it’s scheduled for 2022 already. I could not however pass on his lovely song New Year,
She sets her alarm
five minutes to twelve
and wakes just in time
to say her goodbyes
thanking the old year
for all that it brought her
no mention of the things
it took away

Like I said, it’s a lovely song. Put it on your playlist.

I featured Ben Rector on Thanksgiving Day and again on December 16th. Rector also released a wonderful and hopeful New Years song, The Best is Yet To Come (released only as a single – it’s available on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon).
It’s been the kind of year I’d be fine if I forgot, yeah
But I’ll never forget it as long as I live and that’s saying a lot
The wildest menagerie of unfortunate crazy things and now it’s all over
So raise up your glass here’s to brand new beginnings
And leave in the past all the things that are ending
Cause tomorrow will bring us a new morning sun
My friends I believe that the best is yet to come

Rector’s The Best is Yet To Come is another song to put on your playlist.

I featured Rob Thomas’ new Christmas record (which is very good) on December 3rd. That record also features the song New Year’s Day. It’s more of a love song than a look back or ahead. But hey, I counted Harmony Hill from Vampire Weekend as a holiday song yesterday — so Thomas qualifies. Another good tune for your playlist.
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It’s getting harder and hard to find great versions of Auld Lang Syne. Marc Martel’s version is simple -just him, a piano and that voice. Lovely. (Martel was featured on the 18th) (Eddi Reader’s version is still my all time favorite).

And finally, a huge thank you to everyone who follows me on facebook and here on wordpress.
God willing I’ll see you on November 24th — Thanksgiving Day 2022.
Tom

PS My playlist for this site is now over 29 hours long. If you enjoy the music here, check it out and follow it.

Darren Criss – New Year

Ben Rector – The Best Is Yet To Come (A Song For The New Year)

Rob Thomas – New Year’s Day

Marc Martel – Auld Lang Syne

12/30/21 Square Peg, Round Hole Day

December 30, 2021

I come across a lot of music. Some of it is pretty darn good but just doesn’t seem to fit my “pre-Christmas posts. The week between however is a great time post a few of those songs.

First up is a new record from guitarist Paul Gilbert titled ‘Twas. Gilbert is a very talented guitarist who was labeled as in the top ten of the fastest guitar players of all time. ‘Twas is a very guitar forward record and features some excellent playing. There is a lot of noodling going on as well. It’s almost as if Gilbert was just toying around on his guitar when he stumbled across a Christmas melody and said, “let’s record that.”

If you’re in to straightforward, no messing around guitar Christmas music, this is for you. I do like it. But like I said, it meanders.

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Vampire Weekend is a band based in New York. In 2019 they released a GRAMMY nominated sing titled, Harmony Hall.
Jeremy D. Larson of Pitchfork described the song as “buoyant, filled with the kind of sunlit energy created when throwing open the shutters,” and it is indeed that. If I had to classify it into a holiday song I’d say it’s a tad closer to New Year’s Eve than Christmas – and even that’s a stretch. But… with the lyric
We took a vow in summertime
Now we find ourselves in late December

I believe that New Year’s Eve
Will be the perfect time for their great surrender
But they don’t remember

it’s close enough. And it’s a great tune. Vampire Weekend does have a song titled Holiday. It’s not about Christmas or New Year’s Eve/Day

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Something Corporate was a short-lived yet fairly popular band from the early 2000’s. Forget December is a happy little dittty (please note sarcasm) first released on a 2003 EP Songs for Silent Movies. I read somewhere but can’t relocate the source that songwriter Josh Partington wrote the song after he was notified on Christmas Day his mom and dad were divorcing, hence the opening lyric,
on christmas morning
outside was pouring
all was hopeless in this home
and no one speaking
no one creeping

Something Corporate has disbanded and re-formed several times but their domain name is up for sale. You can access it here via the wayback machine. They do have a facebook page – it has not been updated since 2012.

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Paul Gilbert – Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Vampire Weekend – Harmony Hall

Something Corporate – Forget December

12/29/21 New Takes on A John Waters Christmas From Vista Blue

December 29, 2021

My knowledge of John Waters is pretty much the excellent movie (and eventually Broadway play) Hairspray and the drop-dead funny season eight episode of The Simpsons, Homer Phobia. So when Mike Patton of Vista Blue told me they were doing Vista Blue covers of songs from A John Waters Christmas album, I had to check it the album out – and it doesn’t disappoint. As the UK Guardian said, “These [A John Waters Christmas] are the songs to turn to when the family is driving you crazy; the rest will just drive you even more crazy.”
As for the Vista Blue-ing of several songs from the record, Mike’s liner notes say is best:

“I’m obviously a huge fan of Christmas songs, and I record Christmas tracks every year with several different projects and friends. But I also listen to a lot of Christmas music, and I’m always searching to find classics that have slipped past me.
Last year, my friend Rusty introduced me to A John Waters Christmas on a holiday podcast that we do. I knew about the album after watching the Jingle Bell Rocks documentary, and I was definitely curious to learn more about it. But I had no idea how amazing it was. Aside from a couple of exceptions, it’s an entire album of songs that should be standards today for one reason or another.
The moment I heard the first track, “Fat Daddy,” I knew we’d have to record it, so we decided to just pick a few of the songs to cover this year. And here we are.
If you’ve never heard the original album, I can’t recommend it enough, and you can’t possibly get a good understanding of it by listening to our versions of these four tunes. What you’re hearing here are essentially Vista Blue versions of R&B, country, doo-wop, and children’s songs. We tried to arrange these tracks as though we had written them ourselves here in 2021.
But really, go buy the original album, and enjoy it with your whole family this year. From the opening sounds of “Fat Daddy” to the final moments of “Santa Claus Is a Black Man” and everything in between, it’s just a wonderful compilation. I hope we’ve done it just a little bit of justice.”

liner notes from A John Waters Christmas Tribute
by Vista Blue

I’ll feature the originals of two songs, Fat Daddy by Da Wooden Soldiers and Christmas Time is Coming (A Street Carol) by the band Stormy Weather and follow the the Vista Blue versions.

Vista Blue Facebook
Vista Blue’s A John Waters Christmas Tribute – available now on their bandcamp site

Fat Daddy by Da Wooden Soldiers

Christmas Time is Coming (A Street Carol) — Stormy Weather

Vista Blue – Fat Daddy
x

Vista Blue – Christmas Time is Coming (A Street Carol)

12/28/21 Those Who Passed – Christmas Edition Part Two

December 28, 2021

Part two of Those Who Passed Christmas Edition.

I’ll start with country artist Ed Bruce and his former wife Patsy. Together they wrote several country songs but Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys, a huge hit for Waylon and Willie leads the pack. The couple divorced in 1987.
Ed Bruce died January 8 this year. Patsy died just four months later on May 16th. They were both 81. Ed recorded and released Christmas Started With a Child in 1985.

Ed Bruce – Christmas Started With a Child

Phil Spector died in a California prison on January 16th at the age of 80. Rolling Stone magazine called him a “monumentally influential music producer” whose Wall of Sound style of music revolutionized how music was recorded. A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector was released November 22, 1963. The single Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) has been recorded countless times by hundreds of artists and still gets heavy airplay every Christmas season. I’ll feature Darlene Love belting it out on the Letterman Show below.

Darlene Love – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – A Phil Spector song (Darlene Love is very much alive)

Jim Weatherly died February 3rd of natural causes. He was 77. Jim who you ask? Jim Weatherly, former star quarterback for the University of Mississippi and singer/songwriter wrote one of the most recognizable R&B songs in history, Midnight Train to Georgia. Weatherly has one Christmas album to his credit — Christmas Like It Used To Be, released in 2004. The album features 14 Christmas songs — all Weatherly originals. Check out this brief interview of Weatherly on how he wrote Midnight Train to Georgia (it involves Lee Majors, Farah Fawcett and flag football).

Jim Weatherly – Christmas With You

Chick Corea– a legendary keyboardist who was a monster in the fusion realm and was a force of nature in all things jazz and improvisation died on February 9th at age 79 from cancer. In the early Sixties, Corea established himself as an A-list pianist, working with Stan Getz, Herbie Mann, and others. Later in the decade, he joined Miles Davis’ band and played a key role in helping the trumpeter make the transition to a more contemporary, plugged-in sound on albums like Bitches Brew. Corea’s band Return to Forever (Corea, Stanley Clarke, Al DiMeola, Lenny White, Jean-Loc Ponty) spioneered the jazz fusion movement in the early 70’s. Corea’s jazzy take on God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen was featured on a 1988 jazz fusion artist compilation record titled A GRP Christmas Collection.

Chick Corea – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Don Everly died August 21st at the age of 84. Don and his brother Phil (who died in 2014) had 28 hits from 1957 through 1965 including Bye Bye Love, Wake Up Little Susie and All I have to Do is Dream. The Everly Brothers released Christmas With the Everly Brothers and the Boystown Choir in 1962, Don sang lead on What Child is This.

Everly Brothers – What Child Is This?


Mary Wilson, a founding member of The Supremes, died February 8th this year at her home in Las Vegas at the age of 76.

Wilson, who grew up in a housing project in Detroit, was an original member of the singing group so fundamental to Motown’s popularity, known globally for a string of hits including “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Back in My Arms Again.”

“The Supremes were always known as the ‘sweethearts of Motown,'” Berry Gordy, founder of the Motown record label, said in a statement. “Mary, along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, came to Motown in the early 1960s. After an unprecedented string of No. 1 hits, television and nightclub bookings, they opened doors for themselves, the other Motown acts, and many, many others… She was a trailblazer, a diva and will be deeply missed.” (NBC News)

Merry Christmas (The Supremes Album) was released in 1965. The song My Christmas Tree was the first ever recording of a Jimmy Webb song (and certainly not the last).

The Supremes – My Christmas Tree

Michael Nesmith – Of course one fourth of the band The Monkees (Mickey Dolenz is the final surviving member). Nesmith’s biggest hit was probably Different Drum, a song the producers of the Monkees rejected. Nesmith gave it to Linda Ronstadt and the rest is history.

Nesmith and Dolenz finished their latest reunion tour on November 14th this year. Nesmith died of natural causes just three and a half weeks later.

The Monkees released Christmas Party in 2018. It features songs newly written for the band by a group of talented songwriters, including Rivers Cuomo of Weezer (“What Would Santa Do”) and Andy Partridge of XTC (“Unwrap You At Christmas”). Adam Schlesinger (Stacy’s Mom and I Want an Alien For Christmas) and celebrated author Michael Chabon teamed up to write “House Of Broken Gingerbread.” Guitarists Peter Buck of R.E.M. and Scott McCaughey of The Minus 5 play on two songs – a cover of Big Star’s “Jesus Christ” and the album’s title track, which they wrote together.

CHRISTMAS PARTY also includes two songs with Michael Nesmith on lead vocals, with each track being produced by one of his sons. His take on the yuletide classic “The Christmas Song” was produced by Christian Nesmith while “Snowfall” was helmed by Jonathan Nesmith.

I wrote about the record on December 3rd of 2019, highlighting the record on which they passed, Christmas in Antarctica.

Michael Nesmith died on December 10, 2021. He was 79

The Monkees – Christmas Party

12/27/21 Those Who Passed Christmas Edition Part 1

December 27, 2021

For the past few years I’ve set aside a couple days after Christmas to pay tribute to some artists who passed over the year. I’ll do the same again this year tonight and tomorrow.

I use a thorough list found here: https://weheartmusic.typepad.com/blog/musicians-and-singers-who-died-in-october-2021.html

That list is a bit clunky to use but whoever puts the list together makes sure to miss no one. If you want to check it out, check out the current month then scroll down to the bottom for the other months of the year. There’s no other good way to navigate their extensive database.

Because the list is so long, I use the following criteria on recognition:
1. I’ve heard of them
2. did they have Christmas music?

Also, I’ll write something briefly and then post a Christmas song by him/her (as opposed to putting all videos at the bottom of the page like I normally do). So make sure you keep scrolling

Finally, my apologies if I missed someone.

Nanci Griffith died on August 13 this year at the age of 68. I started following her back in 1984 and loved her music. Complications due to cancer is what her NY Times obit said was the cause of death. Her one Christmas song was On Grafton Street. You can find it on her 1994 album, Flyer. Her live performance below is a much better version.
Nanci Griffith – July 6, 1953 – August 13, 2021

Nanci Griffith – On Grafton Street

BJ Thomas died May 29 at his home in Arlington, Tex. He was 78. Thomas had hits over several decades and was one of those musicians who managed to cross over between rock, country and Christian music.
He released a whole bunch of Christmas records over the years but I think his God Bless the Children was perhaps his best song.

BJ Thomas – God Bless the Children

Charlie Watts, drummer for The Rolling Stones died August 24th this year at the age of 80. The Stones released a very good ‘holiday’ song (Winter) on their 1973 album Goats Head Soup.

The Rolling Stones – Winter

Mike Finnegan died on August 11 following a bout with kidney cancer. He was 76. Finnegan had an amazing career as a rock and roll keyboardist. His credits are truly amazing. He was a session musician for Jimi Hendrix’ Electric Ladyland album. He played Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Dave Mason, Cher, Don Felder, Dan Hicks, Bonnie Raitt, Dan Fogelberg, Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker, Whitesnake, Tommy Bolin, John Hiatt and even Andy Griffith. Even mentioning that many artists only begins to touch the incredible list of artist with whom Finnegan has played and sang. What a career! I featured Finnegan’s son Kelly back on December 15th. Mike Finnegan record It Came Upon a Midnight Clear for the TV show ER – it’s a very soulful rendition.

Mike Finnegan – It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

12/26/21 The After Christmas Song and The Post Christmas Blues

December 26, 2021

It’s no wonder I suppose that people get the blues after Christmas. The season pretty much starts on November 1, takes a 24-48 hour break for Thanksgiving, ramps up for another month and them WHAM! it’s over by midnight on Christmas day (or by 6pm at a lot of radio stations).

Googlingpost christmas blues shoots back 49 million results in .51 seconds. It’s a real thing.

Musicians address it too – which helps. Over the past several years I have as well compiling some great tunes to help you Make It Through December,
• Get Me Through December – Alison Kraus
• Farewell Jingle Bells – Dave Brubeck
• Don’t Wanna Let Christmas Go – Gabe Dixon
• All I Get For Christmas is Blue – Over The Rhine
• The Week Between – Jonathan Coulton & John Roderick
 Christmas Auld Lang Syne – Bobby Darin
Don’t Wanna Say Goodbye to Christmas Yet – Jimmy Rankin

I’ll add two more to the list tonight, The After Christmas Song by Bob Malone and Christmas Song (For After Christmas) from Jingle and the Sleigh Bells.
Bob Malone is currently John Fogerty’s keyboard player (at least when he’s touring). He’s performed with Bob Seger and Ringo as well. Malone’s recording of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” was the theme in the Illumination/ Universal movie trailer for “The Grinch.” Malone’s The After Christmas Song is perfect for the day after,

Pull down the tree, turn down the lights
Another Christmas is done
Oh, how I hate to see it go
Throw out the cards, tear down the wreath
I guess it’s time to move on
Seems like the season’s just begun

With our better natures on display
This should last the whole year through
Wish I could find a way not to end this holiday
Christmas is over, but merry Christmas to you
Christmas is over, but merry Christmas to you

Say your goodbyes, see off the guests
It’s suddenly quiet around here
Seeing the family sure felt fine
We promise we’ll call, promise we’ll write
Promise we’ll visit real soon
But we never seem to find the time

Here comes that melancholy feeling
Red, green, gold and silver turning blue
Wish I could find a way not to end this holiday
Christmas is over, but merry Christmas to you
Christmas is over, but merry Christmas to you

At this time of year the human race always does itself a favor
In the spirit of the season, stays on its best behavior
Now that the twenty-sixth is here, let’s hold on another year
Christmas is over, but merry Christmas to you
Christmas is over, merry Christmas to you

I’m pretty sure Jingle and the Sleigh Bells is just a made up name. The song is attributed to PJ Drum and a couple of other members of the Drum clan. I can find nothing. I found the song on bandcamp as part of a Friends Friends Friends Records compilation titled, Last Christmas Party on the Left.

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Friends Friends Friends Record Label Facebook Page

Bob Malone – The After Christmas Song

Jingle and the Sleigh Bells – Christmas Song (For After Christmas)

12/25/21 I Work on Christmas Day

December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas from Tom’s Music Blog.

I no longer work on Christmas Day – but working in radio for so many years, I have worked a lot of them. Many of you following this blog do. I Work on Christmas Day is a great song dedicated to all of you who are working today. It’s from Whoa Melodic.

Whoa Melodic is Walthamstow (East London) based songwriter Michael Wood (it’s an anagram). 

I work on Christmas Day
I work a little harder
To get my Christmas pay
Cause I’m not with
the one I love

I am a doctor
I am a nurse
I fly an aeroplane
I read the news
I work behind a bar
serving you champagne

I’m in the police
I’m in the fire brigade
I work to keep you safe
I work in hotels
I am a concierge
You’ll have a place to stay
I work on Christmas Day

I work on christmas Day
I work a little harder
To get my Christmas pay
Cause I’m not with
the one I love

I am a midwife
I will be there for you
If your baby’s born today
I am a farmer
I drive an ambulance
I’m coming to your way

I am a priest
I do the midnight mass
and now I’m back today
I work on Christmas Day

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A reminder, I’ll be posting through New Year’s Eve. Tomorrow is dedicated to those who get the “post-Christmas blues” (I am one of them). On the 27th and 28th we’ll take a look back at Christmas music from artists who passed this year. 29th will feature more from Vista Blue. The 30th will be square peg in round hole day — stuff a bit too out there for the lead up to Christmas. And then New Years Eve will be, well New Year’s Eve songs (several actually). Thanks again for following.
Merry Christmas

Whoa Melodic – I Work On Christmas Day

12/24/21 Still Can’t Sleep on Christmas Eve

December 24, 2021

Aptly titled A Family Christmas, We The Kingdom released their first Christmas EP, in October of this year. The six song album features five originals and a cover/reworking of Silent Night. I’ll feature three tracks from the record tonight, I Still Can’t Sleep on Christmas Eve, Glorious and Christmas Day (featuring Chris Tomlin). This is an excellent record — make sure you check out their tremendous 2020 album Holy Water as well.

By the way, I mentioned A Family Christmas is aptly named — that is because the band is made up of brothers Ed Cash and Scott Cash, Ed’s children Franni Rae Cash Cain and Martin Cash, and close family friend Andrew Bergthold.

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We The Kingdom – Still Can’t Sleep on Christmas Eve

We The Kingdom – Glorious

We The Kingdom – Christmas (featuring Chris Tomlin

12/23/21 The Busiest Travel Day – Still

December 23, 2021

Years ago Conde Nast determined December 23rd was the busiest travel day of the Christmas season. It’s been awhile so I checked again — and several sites say the 23rd of December remains the busiest traveling day of the Christmas season.

Accordingly, in 2014 I started an annual tradition to reserve the 23rd for songs about traveling home, not being able to visit loved ones for the holidays or missing family for a myriad of reasons. I always get great feedback on this annual post (probably because most are sad songs).

I’ll continue the tradition tonight with Good to Be Home from Minnesota singer/songwriter John Mark Nelson, Heading North for Christmas by English singer/songwriter Rae Morris, Merry Christmas Wherever You Are from Meiko (singer/songwriter from Georgia) and Country Music Hall of Famer, George Morgan’s 1962 single, Blue Snowfall.

MeikoMusic.com
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George Morgan Bio Page at AllMusic.com

John Mark Nelson – It’s Good to be Home

George Morgan – Blue Snowfall

Rae Morris – Heading North For Christmas

Meiko – Merry Christmas Wherever You Are


12/22/21 We Need Christmas

December 22, 2021

We Need Christmas is the title of Mathew West’s brand new Christmas record. Born and raised in Downers Grove, Illinois, West is a multi-GRAMMY and multi Dove award winner and remains a Cubs fan.

“These past couple of years have felt like peace is in short supply, hope has been hard to find, and love and joy have been lost for so many,” shares Matthew West about the inspiration for his new project. “Christmas is a time when our hearts can be powerfully reminded that the peace, hope, love, and joy we all need can still be found in a savior.”
Matthew West – TheChristianBeat.org

The album features several West originals and a number of covers of Christmas classic. It also includes Gobble Gobble — you’ll see it here next year on Thanksgiving Day (November 24th if you were wondering). I’ll feature three songs from We Need Christmas tonight. the title track, Make Way and Christmas Through the Years.

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Matthew West – We Need Christmas

Matthew West – Christmas Through the Years

Matthew West – Make Way

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