The Twelve Days of Christmas 2022 – Day 8

Do you remember what you were doing on this day, in 2000? While it may be an important human date for the northern hemisphere, the Winter Solstice marks the shortest day, and the gradual orbit tilt to change back the pendilum of time, this giving us more sunlight. More sunlight hear you! And so this pick is apropos for several reasons. On the darkest of days, comes the darkest of songs.

NewSong was a relatively unknown artist when I heard this on the radio. I was sitting on a bus and I heard the music through the riddles bumps of the bus. Outlining the final thrust towards getting a Christmas gift for a dying mother of a young boy in the queue, Christmas Shoes reminds of, much like Charlie Brown, what the true meaning of Christmas is.

Is it those presents you make, buy, give, and/or receive? Living in a consumer based world makes this difficult to balance, but thankfully I live in a country where it is rather modest in terms of consumerism, but goes full out on food. Living in China or Canada during the holidays always struck me in a difficult way. The hustle and bustle to buy presents, and I just didn’t feel like I belonged. It was not because the Christmas spirit didn’t surge thorough my soul, nor that I was a child with minimal financial freedom; I just didn’t understand why I was doing what I was doing. I reflected, evaluated, and realised that maybe the path was not my own, so I turned around.

Bref, the song brought many to tears on first listening. I can see it, I felt it too, so grab a tissue if you haven’t heard it and enjoy this one hit wonder.

The Twelve Days of Christmas 2022 – Day 7

When you think of Christmas albums, more specifically sy 15 years ago, the likes of Michael Bublé and a myriad of others was not even in existence yet. We, or rather I, had been listening to this artist now for basically my entire life. Enter Bing Crosby.

A classic and popular musical artist from days ago, Bing Crosby has an intimate style and highlights a very Vaudeville male style in his music. Deep and sultry, charming and alluring. Thats him alright. 💃🕺

And as it turns out he’s a pretty decent actor too. Don’t be like me and wait 30 years before seeing the classic Christmas film, White Christmas. It’s classic; it’s got singing, dancing, love, and laughs. Really, go now and watch it! If you do, you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.

Silver Bells, a song from the 50s, has a funny history which involves the original name being scrapped for a potential reference to slang about peeing. 😂 Despite this, it’s a Christmas perennial and we can’t get enough of those ring-a-lings! 🎻

The Twelve Days of Christmas 2022 – Bonus!

I found it quite hard to limit myself to 12 songs, so I include this most important selection into the mix as a bonus.

As many people know, music has been a large part of my life; it started in school, like for example me learning euphonium, oboe, french horn, and flute, several of which I just learned for specific performance that either I arranged (like a Christmas melody one year) or performing in a brass ensemble (fewer even would remember this). Either that, or having studied music at university and focusing on the other orchestral instruments, it might be become more clear that I love instrumental music.

Even as a community band performer on either flute, piccolo, or oboe (who remembers those moments?!), or in student or amateur orchestras, it’s clear that my broad experience in music couldn’t be denied. It was in these latter ensembles that I was introduced to Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride, a very fun instrumental version of the song set to words. With a busy percussion section, it’s easy to see why this became a winter season classic.

Even today, while I’m not technically a music teacher in my school, I’m moonlighting as a recorder ensemble director in order to offer students an opportunity to learn to read, play, and show emotion through music. And just to prove how nerdy I am, I broke out the bass recorder in my French class on Friday to play along with the Christmas music playing – and believe me, I was just as surprised at them, being able to play by ear and find the melody thus tricking them into thinking I have perfect pitch. “No,” I replied, “but I am a pretty darn good musician!” 🤣

The recorder family is found in my living room, along with the double bass, the electric upright double bass, the piano, and the growing books of repertoire piling by the TV. Believe me, while searching for a new house or apartment, the idea of “a music” room truly needs to come to fruition. Enjoy this little instrumental tune, before returning to our regularly scheduled march towards the Eve of Christmas. Bonus unlocked! 🎄🌟

The Twelve Days of Christmas 2022 – Day 6

To all the people that don’t know who Rita MacNeil is, well now you will know. She was a Cape Breton native (that’s a place on the East Coast of Canada) where the identity and accent is strong. She wrote the music and lyrics to this next song in 1988, meaning close to my year of birth and therefore a part of my childhood. My dad had the cassette tape, and I would always filch it from the deck without him knowing, and listen to it on repeat on the old cassette player. (for you younglings who don’t know what a cassette tape is, just imagine before the CD, and mini version of the VHS tape in audio format, oh wait I probably lost you with those references too).

This song, which I first saw on a Christmas special, involved watching Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini skate a pairs programme to the rousing music while Rita sings in the background. The only disappointment is that it wasn’t skated by a childhood favourte, Josée Chouinard, but alas we can’t all get what we want.

Her unique voice and the intense accompaniment stirs up some important emotions related to the lyrics, especially the descending bassline on the bass and piano. With references to other Christmas carols, it’s a call to action and a call to light. Now the Bells Ring, the new good news has come; no truer words have ever been spoken. May your ears be blessed with this song, which beyond the borders of Canada is probably never heard. Be sure to make it to the intense bridge, which just sends goosebumps to your arms.

Featuring a child chorus, it adds the lovely touch to this mixture pop-rock song. Now the bells ring…

The Twelve Days of Christmas 2022 – Day 5

Onwards goes the journey and one can not forget the Christmas movies involving the classic Alvin and Chipmunks. There are several, and one of the better ones is the one with the Golden Harmonica, and since I have not seen the more modern versions, so in my book an oldie is a goodie.

Being called a chipmunk as a child really makes this one special. Why a chipmunk? Well I was even more perky and spritly as a youth than as an adult, but one can not forget the chipmunk duo og Chip and Dale. Yes, this dates me a bit. However it is true, in the 90s the jokes were rige, but in the 2010s and 2020s the cultural sphere seems to put the reference more farther afield.

Any ways, back to the song. Squeaky voices, happy messages, as nd the intense childhood desire for none other than… A hoolahoop! Ahh, the simple things.

And in case you wonder to which one of the Chipmunks I most related, id you know me well you’ll know that that answer is simple: Simon!

Enjoy another blast from the past!

Christmas Don’t Be Late

Alright you Chipmunks
Ready to sing your song?
I’ll say we are
Yeah, let’s sing it now!
Okay, Simon?
Okay
Okay, Theodore?
Okay
Okay, Alvin? Alvin? Alvin!
Okay!

Christmas, Christmas time is near
Time for toys and time for cheer
We’ve been good, but we can’t last
Hurry Christmas, hurry fast
Want a plane that loops the loop
Me, I want a hula hoop
We can hardly stand the wait
Please Christmas, don’t be late

Okay, fellas get ready
That was very good, Simon
Naturally!
Very good, Theodore
He-he-he-he
Ah-Alvin, you were a little flat
Watch it, ah-Alvin… Alvin? Alvin!
Okay

Want a plane that loops the loop
I still want a hula hoop
We can hardly stand the wait
Please Christmas, don’t be late
We can hardly stand the wait
Please Christmas, don’t be late

Very good, boys
Let’s sing it agan
Yeah, let’s sing it again
No, that’s enough, let’s not overdo it
What do you mean overdo it? We gotta sing it again!
Now wait a minute, boys
Yeah, let’s beat it, I’d like to sing it again

Alvin… it’s not that… not but, what?
Theodore, just a minute…
Simon will you cut that out, get off me

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