It’s Christmas Day. And it’s Saturday. Obviously, it’s time for some more Christmas music.
Let’s start with the probably obvious choice, the first part of the Messiah by Georg Frederick Handel. This is performed by the Dream Orchestra. It was conducted by Daniel Suk on December 3, 2015. I don’t think I’ve linked to this particular version, but I could be wrong. Sometimes, choirs will end this part with Hallelujah, which actually ends Part II, the Easter section; I’m catholic about doing that.
I’ve been in the chorus when this part has been performed in its entirety at least four times. And I’ve been in plenty of choirs that have sung And The Glory Of The Lord, And He Shall Purify, Glory To God In The Highest, and especially For Unto To Us A Child Is Born a bunch of times. I never tire of them.
The version of Gloria by John Rutter I picked was new to me. This was performed by the Angeles Chorale at the First United Methodist Church in Pasadena, CA, on December 15, 2012. This piece is harder than it seems, I can tell you from having performed it twice. My favorite Rutter piece is the Requiem, but it doesn’t fit this season.
I think I used this before. The Alma College Choirs sing The Dream Isaiah Saw. It’s by composer Glenn Rudolph. Recorded live at the 2011 Festival of Carols on the campus of Alma College in Alma, Michigan. I love singing this song.
Here’s Aubrey Logan singing O Holy Night. It was released only yesterday. Your basic last-minute shopping present.
Finally, the title tune, performed by David Arkenstone. This was NOT exactly what I was looking for. Nor were all the versions of I Saw Three Ships I came across. But it’s like other Christmas gifts; sometimes they are very nice, even when they are not what you were expecting.
I suppose I should not be ungracious. Still, there ARE some things I just don’t want for Christmas:
Arguments that the COVID vaccine is contrary to God’s will because we have “natural immunity.”
That the vaccine has a microchip in it, broadcasting to Bill Gates’ new unlisted phone number.
That the vaccine was designed to fail. Or that the disease is fake, planned by the corporatists.
More things I don’t want for Christmas:
“Proof” that climate change has been engineered by a leftwing globalist cabal designed to take our freedom “Proof” debunking the Holocaust And “Proof” of Bigfoot’s existence (I just don’t get the Bigfoot stuff)
I bring this up because, in the past year or two, I have received EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE, unsolicited, to my email or via Instant Messaging on Facebook. And there were many more of like persuasion. You can’t just return them to Amazon.
Here’s an interesting article from Scientific American. People Who Jump to Conclusions Show Other Kinds of Thinking Errors. Moreover, “Belief in conspiracy theories and overconfidence are two tendencies linked to hasty thinking.”
There was a fishing experiment you can read about. “The earlier a person jumped, the more likely they were to endorse conspiracy theories, such as the idea that the Apollo moon landings had been faked. Such individuals were also more likely to believe in paranormal phenomena and medical myths, such as the idea that health officials are actively hiding a link between cell phones and cancer.”
The article was by Carmen Sanchez and David Dunning on October 15, 2021. Dunning? I remember that surname from a blog post about illusionary superiority I wrote in September of 2015. The phenomenon is “a cognitive bias whereby individuals overestimate their own qualities and abilities, relative to others… Other terms include superiority bias, leniency error… and the Lake Wobegon effect.”
If you’ve been around here long enough, you know what I really, really want. And no, it’s not the Spice Girls’ greatest hits. (Although I don’t have any Spice Girls music. Should I get some?)
I want YOU to Ask Roger Anything. It could be about Bigfoot or the Holocaust, I suppose, and why I don’t believe in the former but do believe in the latter.
Expect answers to your questions, probably within a month. Please leave your questions, suggestions, and interpolations in the comments section of the blog. OR you can also contact me on Facebook or Twitter. On Twitter, my name is ersie. Why ersie? I’ve probably answered that before, but I could do it again if you ask. Always look for the duck.
You may remain anonymous, or better yet, pseudonymous, but you need to tell me that. E-mail me at rogerogreen (AT) gmail (DOT) com, or send me an IM on FB and note that you wish to be unnamed. Otherwise, I’ll attribute the queries to you.
A dozen Christmas songs I had not linked to yet this season. These are among my favorites.
Wexford Carol – Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma. Alison is one of my wife’s favorite artists. She’s one of her K Girls, along with Diana Krall, and they reside next to each other in the file cabinet. Naturally, the artists are in alphabetical order
Merry Christmas, Baby – Charles Brown. I was not really familiar with him, to be honest until I heard Bonnie Raitt had him and the unrelated Ruth Brown on a live album that I own.
Merry Xmas (War Is Over) – John and Yoko and The Harlem Community Choir. Always makes me sad, because John’s assassination was in December.
River – Joni Mitchell. I’m still mystified that my late friend Donna, who was a music buff and a Joni obsessive, failed to hear Jingle Bells as the motif of this song.
The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole. Likely my mother’s favorite singer. Whatever happened to all of her old 78s she owned?
Here’s the second part of the Christmas song roster that I put on a burned CD in 2006. There are other holiday compilations I’ve made. But I pulled a bunch of CDs off the Christmas section of the shelf. I had intended to pick selections from various discs, but when I found this puppy, voila!
In retrospect, I might have put the two Santa songs and the Allan Sherman cut together.
The Bells of Christmas – Julie Andrews. Absolutely one of my favorite Christmas songs ever. And I have the hardest time finding it on YouTube. There’s a version of it, featuring the Young Americans, performed much faster and higher in Julie’s range I just do not like. This version has an extra minute of strings starting at 1:07. The version I love is at 17:33 of the album. Accept no substitutes.
Barefoot Santa Claus · Sonny James. This appears on some compilation someone made for me. But I may have heard it growing up – it came out in 1966 – when I used to listen to WWVA in Wheeling, WV late at night.
Star Carol · Simon and Garfunkel. From their boxed set, Old Friends. It was recorded in 1967 but was not released until 1997.
What Child Is This? · Vanessa Williams. From A Very Special Christmas 2, which came out in 1992 to support the Special Olympics.
I got to see the Rebecca Jade Xmas show! Oh, yeah, and Dave Koz, Jonathan Butler, and others were there, too.
OK, I jest here. Koz has been the frontman for a holiday tour for a quarter of a century. The saxophonist’s music is labeled “soft jazz”, and that is true. But read this review of Dave Koz And Friends 20th Anniversary Christmas album in 2017: “Yes… you’ve heard all these classic yuletide songs before. But have you heard them the way [he] arranges them?”
In 2020, the C-year, he and his friends were unable to go on the road. So they did a one-off virtual concert – teased here, and featuring Rebecca Jade. My wife and I saw it; REALLY good. So in 2021, he and his cohorts were back on the road. But there is only stop in New York State, and it ain’t in Albany.
Sunday, December 5, my wife took me to the train station. I could have taken the CDTA bus, which is convenient, but that was a nicer way to depart. I decided to go all-digital with my new phone. This is the first time I didn’t print my ticket.
Then I went to the vending machine to get a ticket to the Oyster Bay on the Long Island Railroad. Literally, the only thing I know about the place I learned from passing references in two Billy Joel songs.
I had booked a place via Hotels.com, a little wary of the geography. But Andrea, my sister’s friend who picked me up at the train stop, noted that it was pretty close to both my hotel and the concert venue. She dropped me off at the East Norwich Inn to check in. More about this anon.
We followed her GPS four miles to get us to a Greek gyro place 800 feet away, where we got some grub. Then we headed to the concert venue, the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at LIU Post in Brookville. I had moved my ticket from Ticketmaster to some Apple Pay app, as though I knew what I was doing! Everyone had to be vaccinated; the picture of my card was on my phone. We had some overpriced cups of wine with an interesting couple we did not know, but who welcomed us to sit with them.
The show began with Koz, South African guitarist/singer Jonathan Butler, trumpeter Rick Braun, and saxophonist Richard Elliot trading licks. Then vocalist Rebecca Jade came out and sang with Butler on one of my favorite songs of the season, What Christmas Means To Me by Stevie Wonder.
A bit later, she and Butler dueted on Mary Did You Know. They performed this last year on the virtual show. It’s a great song and exquisite pairing. I heard it on Butler’s Christmas Together album with another vocalist, but the live renditions were just better. Shortly thereafter, possibly the least suggestive version ever of Baby, It’s Cold Outside.
There were other highlights as well. Each year, Dave does a Hannukah section, since he was born Jewish. A giant dreidel descended from the rafters. Kids from the college, I assume, were wearing Santa hats and bringing Koz the right sax, sometimes mid-song.
Dave reminds me a little of another underrated musician, Doc Severinsen, who could play the clown with Johnny Carson, but who was/is a great jazz trumpeter.
Life on the road
Afterward, Andrea and I got to see Rebecca briefly. The tour started around Thanksgiving and ends December 23. Just for the Long Island show, the band came from Newport News, VA, seven hours away, where they performed the night before. The following evening, they would be taking the tour bus, which sleeps 12, to Detroit, 10 hours away.
Then a day off before trekking through Ohio, Indiana, and Louisville, KY. Good thing they have a day between there and El Paso, TX which is 21 hours away. Life on the road may be rewarding, but it’s tough.
Andrea drove me back to the hotel. I finally got a good look at the photos on the walls. They were often of horse race winners, with the jockey usually the famed Willie Shoemaker. And Burt Bacharach was prominent; Angie Dickinson, who I had forgotten had been married to Burt for a time, I recognized instantly. There’s a headshot of Edward Winter, who played the annoying Col. Flagg on MASH.
For the East Norwich Inn used to be called Burt Bacharach’s East Norwich Inn. The old sign was embedded into a wall. And the exterior still looks like this. The place is a bit worn; there was a squeak in my room floor, but it was in key. The venue was clean, convenient, and quite inexpensive. Burt also owned at least one restaurant in the area but I’m uncertain where that was.
The next morning, I called a taxi company; the guy at the front desk of the hotel had given me a phone number. But the man at that location gave me a second number, and the guy at the second number referred to the first. This left me with Uber. My driver was great, as he told me I could have taken a closer and more frequently running LIRR train, such as Hicksville. Next time I’m in the Oyster Bay area, I’ll remember that. My LI geography knowledge might fill a thimble.
Back to Manhattan to eat some lunch while sitting on the stairs between the entrances to the Moynihan train Hall. It was a beautiful day. Amtrak home to rain; fortunately, my wife picked me up. And my daughter might have even missed me a little.