I Want To Thank You For A Good Year

December 31, 2018

“I want to thank you for a good year
For the good times that I have received
I want to thank you for a good year
For the blessings that you’ve given me”

That’s the opening line of Alexander O’Neal’s song Thank You For a Good Year. It’s a track from his 1988 Christmas recording, My Gift to You. I agree with the sentiment.
As for O’Neal, he had several minor hits in the 80’s — but fans of Prince are probably more familiar with him. O’Neal was the original lead singer for The Time. Following a disagreement with Prince, O’Neal was fired and replaced by Morris Day. Interestingly, the backing musicians on this record, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Jellybean Johnson, were all original members of The Time.
Thank You For a Good Year is an excellent song and is one of three I’ll feature tonight as we wrap up 2018.

I don’t recall the 1980’s program, Nightlife with David Brenner but I’m probably not alone. It was a half-hour talk show that debuted September 8, 1986 and was cancelled June 19, 1987. Brenner’s band leader was Billy Preston, the keyboardist who toured as a band member of the Beatles (that keyboard part in Get Back is the work of Preston), the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. He also co-wrote Joe Cocker’s #1 hit, You Are So Beautiful and had a very successful solo career with hits like Outa-Space, That’s The Way God Planned It, Will It Go Round In Circles and Nothing From Nothing. Not a bad career. Preston sadly died of kidney failure June 6, 2006 at the young age of 59.

For his only New Year’s Eve program, Brenner’s musical guest was Aretha Franklin. Franklin and Preston teamed up that night to perform a Gospel-infused version of Auld Lang Syne – I’ll feature their duet tonight as well.

I’ll end the year with Dougie MacLean’s Until We Meet Again. MacLean is a prolific singer/songwriter who hails from Scotland. He has written songs for Kathy Mattea, Frankie Miller, Ronan Keating and dozens of others. Since 1983, he has released 23 records and has been featured as a guest musician on dozens more.
Until We Meet Again was a single from his 1990 album, Whitewash and I’ll feature it tonight.
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I’m grateful to everyone who follows this blog and for those who offer feedback and ideas. The Lord willing I’ll start again on Thanksgiving Day 2019.
Thanks and see you next year.
Tom

“Until we meet again I wish you well
I hope your light shines easily”
Dougie MacLean – Until We Meet Again

(Quick note… I’ve dug up several outstanding year end tunes — if you want to listen to them, just click on the calendar in the top left hand corner of this page, select the year and then select the 31 (sometimes the 30th).

AlexanderOneal.org
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ArethaFranklin.net
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Franklin’s duet with Billy Preston was a one time live recording and not available as a download.

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Alexander O’Neal – I Want To Thank You

Aretha Franklin & Billy Preston – Auld Lang Syne

Dougie MacLean and Karen Matheson – Until We Meet Again

@alexanderonealofficial
@arethafranklin

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As We Get Very Close to the End of the Month, Two Songs About Winter

December 30, 2018

Tomorrow is my final post for 2018 and I’ve rounded up some great end of the year tunes including a scratchy golden oldie from the late, great Aretha Franklin.

Tonight I’m going to feature a two songs about winter, Arlington from the Wailin’ Jennys and Long Winter by The O’Pears.

The Wailin’ Jennys are a Canadian band formed back in 2002. Through the years they have won two “album of the year” JUNO awards, one in 2005 (40 Days) and again in 2012 (Bright Morning Stars). The title of the band is a pun on the name Waylon Jennings (get it?).

Arlington is a song about winter but as one reviewer states, the song “asks some very deep questions about existence, belief and faith.” Arlington is a track from the band’s first album, 40 Days.  It’s a beautiful song.

The O’Pears are a contemporary folk trio based in Toronto. They released a Christmas record this year titled Stay Warm (which I may feature next year). The song I’m featuring tonight, Long Winter is from their first album, Like Those Nights. Great tune to head us into the long winter.

TheWailinJennys.com
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TheOpears.com
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The Wailin Jennys – Arlington

The O’Pears – Long Winter

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@theopears

And Now For Something Completely Different…

December 29, 2018

In Wisconsin (that’s where I live) legalizing weed has been quite the topic. In November we even had an advisory referendum to legalize it — and it passed by a 61-39 percent margin (that’s officially a landslide).

Just imagine for a second weed is legal here in the Badger state. And just imagine one night a someone gets fettered access to your home. That’s the scenario Ben Diesel, the St. Louis band that “likes to party and make music, respectively” have designed in their song, South City Christmas (and that’s not all he took).  Be careful what you wish for.

BenDieselStl.com
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You can purchase South City Christmas by simply making an offer, here.
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Continuing along the “completely different” path, in 2015 Tele Novella released Christmas Spirit. It’s a Christmas song alright. But the ‘spirit’ to which they refer are of the ghostly variety. It’s a whimsical tine – and yet a dark one as well.

Like i said, now for something completely different.

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Ben Diesel – South City Christmas

Tele Novella Christmas Music

Weihnachten – Ian Anderson

December 28, 2018

I saw Jethro Tull live in Champaign, IL in 1975. I don’t remember all of the details but I do recall the band’s multi-talented frontman, Ian Anderson (and that we had good seats). Tull was formed in 1968 and some 3,000 concerts later, they’re still touring (about 100 gigs a year).

The band released The Jethro Tull Christmas Album back in 2003 and it’s a very Tull effort featuring all original songs (something I always appreciate). The First Snow on Brooklyn is the very first song I featured on this blog.

I found a live recording of Anderson playing a medley of Christmas songs from 2006. It took some digging but I discovered the performance was from a German TV show.

“German televison celebrates “Christmas with the president” (the german ‘Bundespräsident’) every year and 2006 they invited Ian Anderson from the group Jethro Tull to the beautiful monastary, Maria Laach, to play a few tunes with his band and the youth orchestra Rheinland-Pfalz. The show was recorded on 16.12.2006 (with a public rehearsal on 15.12.2006) and broadcast on christmas eve, 24.12.2006.”
WilliZBlog

Jethro Tull is not everyone’s cup of tea (my wife is in that category) but I wanted to get this excellent live performance posted before the year runs out. I’ll follow it with Tull’s A Christmas Song.
PS – Weihnachten means Christmas in German

JethroTull.com
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Ian Anderson – Weihnachten

Jethro Tull – A Christmas Song

@officialjethrotull

Great Song But the Video is Simply Too Weird

December 27, 2018

I teased the Dublin Gospel Choir in early November and then decided against featuring them prior to Christmas. It’s not for a lack of talent. It’s just that the accompanying video is very strange.

The video features a family descended upon by the choir in a very cult-like manner. The family tries and tries to avoid giving in but eventually does. I’m guessing the message was there is Joy in Christmas if you just “let go and let God.” However, the choir members were just too cult-like for my taste.

The Dublin Gospel choir is an amazing chorale so I didn’t want to scrap it entirely — hence the move to the post-Christmas rotation. (Guess what, as a song on your Christmas playlist without video, it’s great!)
I’ll also post them singing Now Behold the Lamb simply because it’s so good.

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The Dublin Gospel Choir – Joy to the World

The Dublin Gospel Choir – Now Behold the Lamb

@dublingospelchoir

 

Posting Through New Year’s Eve

December 26, 2018

I find it sad that Christmas season now wraps up at midnight Christmas Day. I suppose it happens this way because it starts in October and everyone had simply had enough.

I’ve mentioned this before but since there are new people reading this blog, my first professional radio gig was with WSQR in Sycamore, IL. The way we worked Christmas music was
one song per hour in the first week of December
2 per hour in the second week
3 per in week three
and then all Christmas music the week prior.
Then, from the 26th through the 31st, we’d taper off.
A nice easy transition back to normal.
Accordingly, I’ll continue to post through the end of the year.

Also, I know some people get the post-Christmas blues. On the day after Christmas I tend to favor music that has more of a melancholy approach.
I’ve featured such happy tunes as
My Troubles from Andrew Greer
Don’t Wanna Let Christmas Go from Gabe Dixon (Dixon plays piano in Paul McCartney’s band)
All I Ever Get For Christmas is Blue from Over The Rhine
I Am Going to Make it Through This Year if it Kills Me (The Mountain Goats) and Farewell Jingle Bells from Dave Brubeck

Keeping with that theme, tonight I’ll feature Get Me Through December. The song was written by Fred Lavery and recorded by Natalie MacMaster (a Canadian fiddle player) and sung by Alison Krauss in 2001. The song garnered Lavery a Songwriter of the Year award from the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) that same year. It certainly is much more of a winter song than one for the holidays, but signifies the sentiment many of us begin to feel as winter rolls on.

NatalieAndDonnell.com
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Natalie MacMaster & Alison Krauss – Get Me Through December

@nataliemacmaster
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We call you Messiah Messiah is your name

December 25, 2018

We call you Messiah Messiah is your name
Son of God anointed one heaven sent to save
We call you Savior Savior is your name
Holy one redeemer that is why you came

Emmanuel Emmanuel
God right here with us
Emmanuel Emmanuel
Your name is Jesus
The holy one from heaven
The promise for all man
Emmanuel Emmanuel

From the record A Brooklyn Tabernacle Christmas, here’s the choir singing Emmanuel. Followed by the choir singing their Carols Medley (from Christmas at the Brooklyn Tabernacle)

BrooklynTabernacle.org
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Amazon (for Emmanuel)
iTunes – I could not find their Christmas music on iTunes
Spotify – only a few of their songs are on Spotify
All of the BTC’s music is available from their website

Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir – Emmanuel

Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir – Carols Medley

@thebrooklyntabchoir

Old Time Religion and Midnight Mass

December 24, 2018

It’s Christmas Eve so a short post tonight featuring two songs.

This first is a folk-inflected version of the old hymn, Stars of Glory (go here for the lyrics). The band is The Lower Lights. They describe themselves as “a gospel-folk collective that’s diving into the Christian songbook– familiar hymns, lost gems, Hank Williams tunes, Christmas songs, and more. Drawing on equal parts reverence and celebration, [we] have landed on a sound that’s part-revival, part-vigil, and steeped in tradition without drowning in it.”

The second song is titled Midnight Mass from Tom Chaplin, the lead singer of the band Keane (whose song, Somewhere Only We Know, was featured in the 2013 John Lewis Christmas ad).

Chaplin released Twelve Tales of Christmas in 2017 and says Midnight Mass is “quite possibly his favorite song on the record.” The song is “based on a true story of an old guy who ran a London dog club. He died shortly before Christmas without any close family and friends around him but a memorial was held and attended entirely by the owners of the dogs from his club…and, of course, their faithful friends.”

As one reviewer put it, Midnight Mass will “bring a tear to even a cynic’s eye.”

TheLowerLights.com
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TomChaplinMusic.com
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The Lower Lights – Stars of Glory

Tom Chaplin – Midnight Mass

@tomchaplinmusic
@thelowerlights

December 23 – Busiest Travel Day of the Season

December 23, 2018

Experts, whoever they are, tell us over and again, December 23rd is generally the busiest travel day of the Christmas season. Accordingly, I try to post songs about people coming home for the holidays or for those who can’t make it home for Christmas.

I’ll feature two tonight: Every Year from The Hound & The Fox (who I featured back on the 17th) and Christmas Card from Steven Curtis Chapman. Both songs are about missing loved ones who are no longer with us.

In writing about Every Year, Reilly and McKenzie Zamber (the duo making up the Hound and the Fox) say, “Our holiday song dedicated to those no longer here, and to those who wish they were, please share this with someone who might need it this year.”
And regarding Chapman’s Christmas Card, one reviewer wrote, “Christmas Card” is one of the most meaningful moments on the record, a gentle acknowledgment of the pain so often accompanying Christmas for many people. The warmth and compassion in Chapman’s delivery combined with the refrain “sending you this Christmas card to let you know somebody loves you,” is sincere and comforting.”

If you’re in that place this year, or know of someone who is, listen and perhaps send these songs along.
I will offer one warning: major tissue alert.

The Hound and The Fox – Facebook
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StevenCurtisChapman.com
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The Hound and The Fox – Every Year

Steven Curtis Chapman – Christmas Card

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@stevencurtischapman

Lord Remind Me Cause It’s Christmas And I Want To Remember

December 22, 2018

Tonight I’m featuring a song titled Lord Remind Me by Jon and Valerie Guerra.

Guerra’s been performing and writing music of all kinds for quite awhile now (including jingles for Comcast, Chase Bank and Allstate Insurance) but I first came across him from his work with Vertical Worship, the worship band from Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago. I played guitar for First Free Church’s (Rockford) worship band for years and we played several of Vertical’s songs (including 10,000 Reasons and Come Holy Spirit).

Guerra’s music is described as “providing thought-provoking lyrics, innovative instrumentation and pleading vocals regularly wrapped around an entrancing, worshipful undercurrent.  [Guerra] is steadily being recognized as one of today’s most gifted, intellectual and groundbreaking singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalists.”

Guerra was raised in Chicago and that is where he and his wife Valerie still live. In 2015, they released a Christmas record titled It’s Almost Christmas. Lord Remind  is from that recording.

I like all of the music I post in this blog but I always seem to find one or two songs that stand out. Guerra’s Lord Remind Me is one of those. I’m including the lyrics for the song as it powerfully conveys the real meaning of Christmas.


“Lord Remind Me” by Jon and Valerie Guerra

When children play on Christmas Day and snow is flung

When I feel I haven’t had a friend since I was young

When I’m feeling tired of myself and everyone

Lord, remind me

Lord, remind me

That the shepherds heard the angels break the silence in the field

That the wise men found a baby and they could not help but kneel

That the one who heard our weeping became a child in manger sleeping

Lord, remind me ‘cause it’s Christmas and I want to remember.

When I hear the news and hear another war’s begun

And I wonder if God’s on the side of either one

I hear bullet, nail or handcuff you bore all of them

And in the light my heart’s as dark as anyone’s

Lord, remind me

Lord, remind me

That the shepherds heard the angels break the silence in the field

That the wise men found a baby and they could not help but kneel

That the one who heard our weeping became a child in manger sleeping

Lord, remind me ‘cause it’s Christmas and I want to remember.

Tell me how he loves me, Tell me how he wants me

Tell me the story like I’ve never heard before

And I’ll sing it like the angel’s sing it, with my whole heart sing it

To him who’s worth a thousand songs and more.

Glory in the highest, Glory in the lowest

Glory that shines when nothing seems to shine at all

Glory in the highest, glory in the lowest, Immanuel

Lord, remind me

Lord, remind me

That the paralytic rose and stood up proud on his two feet

That the thief who hung beside you is with you now and waits for me

That the cry of faith so simple is the greatest song in heaven’s hymnal

Lord remind me ‘cause it’s Christmas and I want to remember.

“Lord Remind Me” by Jon and Valerie Guerra

If you need some help finding the true meaning of Christmas, take five minutes and thirty seconds and listen to this amazing song.

JonGuerraMusic.com
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“Lord Remind Me” by Jon and Valerie Guerra

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