Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Sing-Along With Mitch Miller And the Gang! (Who the Hell is Mitch Miller?)

From Merriam Webster -
 Main entry:  Christmas Carol
1car·ol (Christmas Carol was NOT listed)
noun \ˈker-əl, ˈka-rəl\

Definition of CAROL
1
: an old round dance with singing
2
: a song of joy or mirth carol of a bird — Lord Byron>
3
: a popular song or ballad of religious joy


Christmas Carols.  This is a sticky subject.  I bet you it’s a sticky subject in just about every home, including yours.   If you brought this subject up in a typical workplace, I bet an argument would ensue within fifteen minutes.  Not a heated argument, but a bit of disagreeing.  What are the best Christmas carols? 

 Everyone has their favorite Christmas music. Some folks like a more modern twist to the classic carols.  Others, like me, tend to like the old school Christmas music.  Songs and carols that define my Christmas; the classics:  Bing Crosby.  Johnny Mathis.  A lovely choir.  A lovely lute. These are a part of my What Christmas Means to Me music.  But, even in my own home, this subject can start a heated argument in no time.  My husband wants Mario Lanza and I want The Harry Simeone Chorale.  We have learned over the years to just play both.  It took some years, but I concur;  Mario Lanza is a part of my What Christmas Means To Me, now.

     My husband works for Pandora Jewelry.  Pandora sponsored a holiday special for TV.  It featured the top ice skating champions from years past as well as today's champions.  I was very excited:  I love ice skating!  Then I heard that Mannheim Steamroller would be the band playing the music - live - for the skaters. *Loud, long groan*   I asked Rob "Why Mannheim Steamroller for crying out loud?  Why not ... anyone else?"  All he could do was shrug.
 
I can’t stand Mannheim Steamroller.  They irritate me.  Badly.  Like an out of place hair on a friends face you wish you could brush aside. Like seeing a piece of lint on the coat of the stranger in front of you while waiting to sign in at the doctor's office.   Like a bad pizza burn.  Like an itch I can’t scratch because I’m layered in piles of clothes and wearing a heavy coat and my hands are inside cozy mittens and I’m outside and it’s 24*outside AND I have to pee.  They irritate me that much.   Still, I watched it; I had to represent!  The television was muted throughout 80% of the show, though  (Let me give a shout-out to all MS fans. No disrespect intended).

Think back to when you were seven.  What was playing on the record player?  I can say ‘record player’ because I’m thinking most of my readers are older than 21.  Okay, I’ll be fair.  What was in the CD player when you were five?  Or what was being sung?    What do you see?  Are you happy?  What are your folks doing?  Are there lots of people around? What does it smell like?  Now; visualizing these moments, what song is playing?  Uh huh.  And I bet it’s one of your top five - all -time favorite Christmas songs, right?  AND… I bet you own it on CD, now, right?

A carol is defined as a joyful song of religious tone.   I happen to love carols;  religious carols.  I love all kinds of carols.  German.  Polish.  I love Madrigal with its richly toned voices singing joyfully; upbeat and fluid.  Well-practiced. Those songs that make you stop and think about how long it took to put it together.

I love a Christmas Choir.  I was a choir member in all of junior high school.  Alto to start, Soprano in my last year.  When I hear a choir, I think back to when we sang Agnus Dei (yes a Catholic hymm sung in a public school; that was a long time ago);  All the time we spent practicing.  We loved it! I thank you, Mrs. Mitchell, for turning me onto Choral music.  Anyway, that is what I would hear on Christmas Eve.  After we would get home from our friends' Christmas Open House. It was usually very late; after midnight.  Trying to get a child wound up on soda, Christmas candies and cookies to bed when she was too excited to go to sleep, my mom would put on a choir LP. I'd get our plate for Santa ready:  two cookies and a bit of celery for his deer (they got enough carrots at other houses) and a tiny bit of milk so he didn't have to make so many trips to the bathroom -- my idea;  not only was that practical, but I hated milk and did not want my folks to ask me to take a tiny sip 'For Santa."  Once I was tucked in,  I'd listen very hard for jingle bells and hooves snapping twigs outside my bedroom window; but  instead would hear the gentle music instead.  My parents were whispering;  putting the finishing touches under the tree; making sure things were arranged just right. The month-long crazy rush to get things done was finally over.  They drank a Christmas toast while I was sung to sleep by the Vienna Boys Choir.


I love the Christmas music my parents played. So very much.
Chet Atkins.  What can I say.  THIS is Christmas to me.  This was my father's favorite, I'd say.  Side one was the "Jolly" side, he'd say, while side two was the 'carol's side.'  I think this album was replaced a few times due to the fact that it was constantly spinning all those days and nights during the Christmas season.  Makes me feel close to my dad whenever I hear this.  I can see him putting together the numerous toys and gizmos Santa had brought me when I hear this.  I see my dad and my Uncle Jack telling silly stories and hearing Uncle Jack's jolly, silly laughter.  I see my mom writing Chrismtas cards and making pepperming candy, while dad taped yet another Christmas card onto mom's decorated front door.  So homey and warm.  I now have this on disc.  I an only hope my kids appreciate it... I'm thinking not yet.  Someday, though,

When I hear this, I see a lot of memories:  Mitch & the Gang  would be playing while mom put the thin silvery garland onto the tree. I kid you not when I tell you she used a slide-rule; her  tinsely garland in perfect diamonds outside the tree.  It was an all-day thing... and thank God I was usually in school when she did it.  Oh and icicles?  One icicle per branch.  I got yelled at -- even after I was married-- if dad saw a group of icicles on one branch.  Sheesh, alright, already!  I always felt bad on Christmas morning, tearing into the perfectly wrapped boxes from Santa.  I would later learn that not only did mom wrap them, but she -- again-- used the slide rule to do it.  I am serious when I say those boxes were wrapped perfectly, even down to the curling ribbons and tape.  Scotch tape was measured, cut and placed in perfect lines.  I can still see my dad gazing at her apologetically when I would just tear into them.  Poor mom!



And of course, Mom's absolute favorite.  The Harry Simeone Chorale.  I have vivid memories of this LP playing while Mom decorated the apartment.  How she loved decorating!  We teased her so much about how precise she was about it.  Things had to be even.  They had to match.  They had to flow just right.  She too loved her beads.  Silver and Gold (that's another album).  She'd drape them on the lamps with tiny little bells in between each swoop.  She bought red velvet and cut ribbons from it, and would sew jingle bells onto the ends and make a door decoration.  She used that same piece of velvet for our tree skirt.  I think it finally fell apart about ten years ago.  Anyway, this album would always play while she was decorating or baking sugar cookies with me. I'd giggle when Go Tell it On the Mountain came on; that buttery,  baritone voice;  Dad and I would kind of make fun of it, trying to get our voices that low!  Then Mom would try and we would all be close to tears from laughing so much.  Sometimes we had so much fun doing this that dad would go out and stop the record and replay that song, just so we could all do it again.  Silly parents ROCK.  Anyway,  I loved this album.  There is one odd thing though;  when I was little, whenever The Little Drummer Boy song would begin, I would run away and hide in my room.  The song made me cry.  I never really knew why until I was much older.  The song made my mom cry, too.  You see, my mom was a very emotional woman.  Beauty made her cry.  I didn't want to see her crying, so I would flee.  When you are small, seeing your mother (or father) weep is a very unnerving thing.   I have a photo of my mom, on a Christmas night, in 1976. She is happy and smiling, but you can see the tears.    
Happy Tears
TLDB was playing.  I too cry when I hear it, now, but it's okay;  I know she is smiling through her tears and hugging me.

As a teenager, I started hearing some versions of Christmas songs from rock bands I liked.  I hated them most of them.  One exception:  Springsteen’s Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.  Gotta admit, that is a classic. The first time I heard Billy Squire’s  Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You, I was like, “You have got to be kidding.  Make it stop.” A WHAM! Christmas.  Seriously, WHAM!?  I mean, I got that new artists were wanting to share exactly what I felt as a lover of Christmas music.  Does that mean they had to SING it?  Okay, yes.  Doesn't mean I have to like it, though.  I could say that my parents thought the same thing when artists they admired started making Christmas albums, right?  Well, no, actually.  They did it, but did it right.  Cindi Lauper and Sinatra!?  You’re joking, right? Okay, even my folks loved David Bowie and Bing Crosby singing The Little Drummer Boy (No, mom and I did not cry). 

Which brings me to my next Christmas Song/Carol pet peeve;
There are some people that -- in my opinion-- should NEVER record Christmas music.   It’s ridiculous.  I am not going to go and list my choices.  I know who they are.  No wonder I hate Christmas shopping so much; it’s all you hear in the stores.    I just think it’s laughable for some artists to release a Christmas LP.   Okay, I’m sorry;  Jessica Simpson.  Seriously?  REALLY!?  Come on!  I feel it's as though some people think "I'll make a Christmas album... I could use a few extra bucks..."    It’s all good, though;  I don’t own them and for the most part, when they come on the radio I can turn it off.   Which brings me to my next Christmas music pet peeve;

The ‘Christmas Radio’
Now, granted, some have XM.  Some have Sirius.  I don’t have either.   I have that old-fashioned radio-thingy.   Please:  Can someone please explain to me WHY radio stations -- especially the so-called ‘Holiday Stations, ’ play a collection of the most overplayed crap that exists, over and over again?  Do you realize how many OTHER “Holiday” tunes exist?  If I hear “Last Christmas” one more time, I’m going to throw up.  Their library probably consists of two CD’s that are slapped into the mixer and set to ‘shuffle’ while the so-called DJ sleeps off a Christmas Cookie high.  

Don't get me wrong.  I do love Crabs for Christmas by David DeBoy.

I am a native Merlinder.  Balamer is only a few minutes away.  So glad we finally have an official Mar -REE- lander Christmas song!  
  I do turn up So This is Christmas by John & Yoko. and I even turn up the Hanukkah Song by Adam Sandler.



  I guess what I'm saying is that there are so many different kinds of Christmas -- holiday -- music.  Play something different.  Mario Lanza.  The Boston Pops do play more than just Sleigh Ride!   I promise to play something different, too.  Does it have to be WHAM! though?

I do realize that WHAM!, Jessica Simpson an even Mannheim Steamroller may be a part -- a major part -- of what Christmas is to folks other than me.  That's fine.  I guess I can give it a listen.  I promise to be open-minded, but let me go get my Sing-Along-With Mitch Miller And the Gang CD just in case;  I promise you'll like it.  Leave the Mannheim Steamroller outside, though.
Happy Holidays!



From Merriam Webster -
 Main entry:  Christmas Carol


1car·ol (Christmas Carol was NOT listed)
noun \ˈker-əl, ˈka-rəl\

Definition of CAROL
1
: an old round dance with singing
2
: a song of joy or mirth carol of a bird — Lord Byron>
3
: a popular song or ballad of religious joy


Christmas Carols.  This is a sticky subject.  I bet you it’s a sticky subject in just about every home, including yours.   If you brought this subject up in a typical workplace, I bet an argument would ensue within fifteen minutes.  Not a heated argument, but a bit of disagreeing.  What are the best Christmas carols?

 Everyone has their favorite Christmas music. Some folks like a more modern twist to the classic carols.  Others, like me, tend to like the old school Christmas music.  Songs and carols that define my Christmas; the classics:  Bing Crosby.  Johnny Mathis.  A lovely choir.  A lovely lute. These are a part of my What Christmas Means to Me music.  But, even in my own home, this subject can start a heated argument in no time.  My husband wants Mario Lanza and I want The Harry Simeone Chorale.  We have learned over the years to just play both.  It took some years, but I concur;  Mario Lanza is a part of my What Christmas Means To Me, now.

     My husband works for Pandora Jewelry.  Pandora sponsored a holiday special for TV.  It featured the top ice skating champions from years past as well as today's champions.  I was very excited:  I love ice skating!  Then I heard that Mannheim Steamroller would be the band playing the music - live - for the skaters. *Loud, long groan*   I asked Rob "Why Mannheim Steamroller for crying out loud?  Why not ... anyone else?"  All he could do was shrug.
I can’t stand Mannheim Steamroller.  They irritate me.  Badly.  Like an out of place hair on a friends face you wish you could brush aside. Like seeing a piece of lint on the coat of the stranger in front of you while waiting to sign in at the doctor's office.   Like a bad pizza burn.  Like an itch I can’t scratch because I’m layered in piles of clothes and wearing a heavy coat and my hands are inside cozy mittens and I’m outside and it’s 24*outside AND I have to pee.  They irritate me that much.   Still, I watched it; I had to represent!  The television was muted throughout 80% of the show, though  (Let me give a shout-out to all MS fans. No disrespect intended).

Think back to when you were seven.  What was playing on the record player?  I can say ‘record player’ because I’m thinking most of my readers are older than 21.  Okay, I’ll be fair.  What was in the CD player when you were five?  Or what was being sung?    What do you see?  Are you happy?  What are your folks doing?  Are there lots of people around? What does it smell like?  Now; visualizing these moments, what song is playing?  Uh huh.  And I bet it’s one of your top five - all -time favorite Christmas songs, right?  AND… I bet you own it on CD, now, right?

A carol is defined as a joyful song of religious tone.   I happen to love carols;  religious carols.  I love all kinds of carols.  German.  Polish.  I love Madrigal with its richly toned voices singing joyfully; upbeat and fluid.  Well-practiced. Those songs that make you stop and think about how long it took to put it together.

I love a Christmas Choir.  I was a choir member in all of junior high school.  Alto to start, Soprano in my last year.  When I hear a choir, I think back to when we sang Agnus Dei (yes a Catholic hymm sung in a public school; that was a long time ago);  All the time we spent practicing.  We loved it! I thank you, Mrs. Mitchell, for turning me onto Choral music.  Anyway, that is what I would hear on Christmas Eve.  After we would get home from our friends' Christmas Open House. It was usually very late; after midnight.  Trying to get a child wound up on soda, Christmas candies and cookies to bed when she was too excited to go to sleep, my mom would put on a choir LP. I'd get our plate for Santa ready:  two cookies and a bit of celery for his deer (they got enough carrots at other houses) and a tiny bit of milk so he didn't have to make so many trips to the bathroom -- my idea;  not only was that practical, but I hated milk and did not want my folks to ask me to take a tiny sip 'For Santa."  Once I was tucked in,  I'd listen very hard for jingle bells and hooves snapping twigs outside my bedroom window; but  instead would hear the gentle music instead.  My parents were whispering;  putting the finishing touches under the tree; making sure things were arranged just right. The month-long crazy rush to get things done was finally over.  They drank a Christmas toast while I was sung to sleep by the Vienna Boys Choir.


I love the Christmas music my parents played. So very much.
Chet Atkins.  What can I say.  THIS is Christmas to me.  This was my father's favorite, I'd say.  Side one was the "Jolly" side, he'd say, while side two was the 'carol's side.'  I think this album was replaced a few times due to the fact that it was constantly spinning all those days and nights during the Christmas season.  Makes me feel close to my dad whenever I hear this.  I can see him putting together the numerous toys and gizmos Santa had brought me when I hear this.  I see my dad and my Uncle Jack telling silly stories and hearing Uncle Jack's jolly, silly laughter.  I see my mom writing Chrismtas cards and making pepperming candy, while dad taped yet another Christmas card onto mom's decorated front door.  So homey and warm.  I now have this on disc.  I an only hope my kids appreciate it... I'm thinking not yet.  Someday, though,

When I hear this, I see a lot of memories:  Mitch & the Gang  would be playing while mom put the thin silvery garland onto the tree. I kid you not when I tell you she used a slide-rule; her  tinsely garland in perfect diamonds outside the tree.  It was an all-day thing... and thank God I was usually in school when she did it.  Oh and icicles?  One icicle per branch.  I got yelled at -- even after I was married-- if dad saw a group of icicles on one branch.  Sheesh, alright, already!  I always felt bad on Christmas morning, tearing into the perfectly wrapped boxes from Santa.  I would later learn that not only did mom wrap them, but she -- again-- used the slide rule to do it.  I am serious when I say those boxes were wrapped perfectly, even down to the curling ribbons and tape.  Scotch tape was measured, cut and placed in perfect lines.  I can still see my dad gazing at her apologetically when I would just tear into them.  Poor mom!



And of course, Mom's absolute favorite.  The Harry Simeone Chorale.  I have vivid memories of this LP playing while Mom decorated the apartment.  How she loved decorating!  We teased her so much about how precise she was about it.  Things had to be even.  They had to match.  They had to flow just right.  She too loved her beads.  Silver and Gold (that's another album).  She'd drape them on the lamps with tiny little bells in between each swoop.  She bought red velvet and cut ribbons from it, and would sew jingle bells onto the ends and make a door decoration.  She used that same piece of velvet for our tree skirt.  I think it finally fell apart about ten years ago.  Anyway, this album would always play while she was decorating or baking sugar cookies with me. I'd giggle when Go Tell it On the Mountain came on; that buttery,  baritone voice;  Dad and I would kind of make fun of it, trying to get our voices that low!  Then Mom would try and we would all be close to tears from laughing so much.  Sometimes we had so much fun doing this that dad would go out and stop the record and replay that song, just so we could all do it again.  Silly parents ROCK.  Anyway,  I loved this album.  There is one odd thing though;  when I was little, whenever The Little Drummer Boy song would begin, I would run away and hide in my room.  The song made me cry.  I never really knew why until I was much older.  The song made my mom cry, too.  You see, my mom was a very emotional woman.  Beauty made her cry.  I didn't want to see her crying, so I would flee.  When you are small, seeing your mother (or father) weep is a very unnerving thing.   I have a photo of my mom, on a Christmas night, in 1976. She is happy and smiling, but you can see the tears.   
Happy Tears
TLDB was playing.  I too cry when I hear it, now, but it's okay;  I know she is smiling through her tears and hugging me.

As a teenager, I started hearing some versions of Christmas songs from rock bands I liked.  I hated them most of them.  One exception:  Springsteen’s Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.  Gotta admit, that is a classic. The first time I heard Billy Squire’s  Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You, I was like, “You have got to be kidding.  Make it stop.” A WHAM! Christmas.  Seriously, WHAM!?  I mean, I got that new artists were wanting to share exactly what I felt as a lover of Christmas music.  Does that mean they had to SING it?  Okay, yes.  Doesn't mean I have to like it, though.  I could say that my parents thought the same thing when artists they admired started making Christmas albums, right?  Well, no, actually.  They did it, but did it right.  Cindi Lauper and Sinatra!?  You’re joking, right? Okay, even my folks loved David Bowie and Bing Crosby singing The Little Drummer Boy (No, mom and I did not cry). 

Which brings me to my next Christmas Song/Carol pet peeve;
There are some people that -- in my opinion-- should NEVER record Christmas music.   It’s ridiculous.  I am not going to go and list my choices.  I know who they are.  No wonder I hate Christmas shopping so much; it’s all you hear in the stores.    I just think it’s laughable for some artists to release a Christmas LP.   Okay, I’m sorry;  Jessica Simpson.  Seriously?  REALLY!?  Come on!  I feel it's as though some people think "I'll make a Christmas album... I could use a few extra bucks..."    It’s all good, though;  I don’t own them and for the most part, when they come on the radio I can turn it off.   Which brings me to my next Christmas music pet peeve;

The ‘Christmas Radio’
Now, granted, some have XM.  Some have Sirius.  I don’t have either.   I have that old-fashioned radio-thingy.   Please:  Can someone please explain to me WHY radio stations -- especially the so-called ‘Holiday Stations, ’ play a collection of the most overplayed crap that exists, over and over again?  Do you realize how many OTHER “Holiday” tunes exist?  If I hear “Last Christmas” one more time, I’m going to throw up.  Their library probably consists of two CD’s that are slapped into the mixer and set to ‘shuffle’ while the so-called DJ sleeps off a Christmas Cookie high.  

Don't get me wrong.  I do love Crabs for Christmas by David DeBoy.

I am a native Merlinder.  Balamer is only a few minutes away.  So glad we finally have an official Mar -REE- lander Christmas song!  
  I do turn up So This is Christmas by John & Yoko. and I even turn up the Hanukkah Song by Adam Sandler.



  I guess what I'm saying is that there are so many different kinds of Christmas -- holiday -- music.  Play something different.  Mario Lanza.  The Boston Pops do play more than just Sleigh Ride!   I promise to play something different, too.  Does it have to be WHAM! though?

I do realize that WHAM!, Jessica Simpson an even Mannheim Steamroller may be a part -- a major part -- of what Christmas is to folks other than me.  That's fine.  I guess I can give it a listen.  I promise to be open-minded, but let me go get my Sing-Along-With Mitch Miller And the Gang CD just in case;  I promise you'll like it.  Leave Mariah Carey &  Mannheim Steamroller outside, though.
Happy Holidays!







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