It’s time to Break It Down!
Re-sent 12/24/15; edited to activate hyperlinks for song titles. Merry Christmas!
(Revised from Break It Down – 12/24/08, 12/22/10, 12/21/11, 12/26/12, and 12/25/13)
Merry Christmas to you! I know some of you are caught up in the whole “We Are The (Secular) World” trip; thus you substitute Holiday for Christmas in seasonal greetings. Of course, those innately curious enough to conduct the requisite etymological research know that the root derivation of holiday is “Holy Day;” but I digress; that is fodder for another day.
By now, many of you should have already begun your well planned and no doubt, richly deserved hiatus from work. Perhaps you have finished your shopping and taken care of all the major errands that accompany preparing for the Big Day. Maybe all that remains is packing and/or traveling; or that throw-down cooking marathon that precedes the arrival of family, friends, and guests, whom you will host over the coming week.
As is my custom, I will not use this Christmas Season Post, if you will allow me to call it that, to challenge you to sort through the facts, be they esoteric or mundane. Not the election, or the economy, no wars, and absolutely no (further) references to Steve Harvey and/or the Philippines, Colombia, or the Miss Universe Pageant. No, this is your time to take advantage of the opportunity to hang out with your guests, or to be a guest, and enjoy the hospitality of friends and family.
In the true spirit of keeping it simple for both you and me, I am, as the title suggests, reprising a previous post, or in this case, posts. In fact, not just any previous posts…not even just any prior Christmas Posts. I am, essentially re-posting my entry from several Christmas’ past, with a notable caveat. In my eight preceding Christmas Season posts, I have presented an e-Christmas Concert on five occasions. This year, I am pressing the reset button on the Concert.
The English playwright and poet, William Congreve, in the opening line of his 1697 Play entitled “The Mourning Bride,” asserted, “Music has Charms to soothe a savage Breast, To soften rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.” I think Congreve was on to something. If indeed music is capable of enabling us to overcome our basest instincts, and in so doing, ennoble us to pursue our finer impulses, and then indeed, we should take more opportunities to render ourselves captivated by its magical spell. (By the way, it really is breast…not beast; caught you thinking, didn’t I?)
So, I identified and pulled together an assortment of my favorite Christmas Standards by several of my favorite artists. This year, I am offering a new variation of the artistic olio I pulled together for your reading, viewing, and listening pleasure a number of years ago. Below, you will find brief summaries accompanying a hot link to a YouTube video interpretation and a song for each of the 12 Days of Christmas listed and included in the form of a Yuletide e-concert.
The legendary Godfather of Soul, as James Brown became known, died on Christmas Day (2006, aged 73), as did Eartha Kitt (2008, aged 81), whom shall ever remain, to many of us, the incomparably personified Catwoman. There was both a surreal sadness and a resolute completeness associated with them ending their respective earthly journeys on Christmas Day, two years apart. Both artists were born in South Carolina; Brown in Barnwell, and Kitt, in North.
- Brown was renowned for his energetic performances, which earned him another of his many titles, “Hardest working man in show business.” His rendition of Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto James Brown was a reminder that he had earned his chops the hard way, and that he was much more than just flash and dash.
- Kitt’s Eartha Kitt – Nothin’ For Christmas // Christmas Essentials is on my list, not only because it is a classic; it is, but also because it’s less well known than everybody’s fave, by her, Santa Baby. I felt it deserved to be featured, so I did.
- The Temptations – Silent Night is quite simply personifies Christmas for many of us. After several names changes, and adding and subtracting new and old members became a group in 1961. A current version of the Franchise still performs today.
- Stevie Wonder-Someday At Christmas has been a staple for many years. Stevie, one of the one-name icons is regarded as a musical genius of the ages, and his rendition of this classic is golden.
- Marvin Gaye *☆* The Christmas Song; a classic sung by a classic. Marvin, yet another one-name icon made music so compelling that he made singing The Star Spangled Banner not only patriotic, but cool. His version of The Christmas Song is must hear music.
- The Emotions – What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas: Christmas is one of the most hyped holidays on the American calendar, and songs like this one by the Emotions is one of the reasons Christmas Songs are so popular. These ladies were at the top of their considerable game on this tune.
- Luther Vandross – My Favorite Things is a show tune from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music. The song was first introduced by Mary Martin in the original Broadway production, and sung by Julie Andrews in the 1965 film. As standards go, this is classic. Luther, another one-name icon, is Luther; he kills it…softly.
- Otis Redding – Merry Christmas Bab: Otis, one-name icon…check. He is among the many artists who were with us for too short a time, but who definitely made his mark during his too brief sojourn. His jovial treatment of this classic is epic Otis.
- Boyz II Men- Let It Snow: Great song, deft rendition. Enough said!
- Whitney Houston (feat. The Georgia Mass Choir) “Joy to the World: Whitney, yes, another one-name icon is joined by the Georgia Mass Choir on the potent delivery of this perennial standard. She sings with verve, power, and yet nuance, all in one rendition.
- Ledisi – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christma: One of my favorite artists doing work on one of the most popular songs of the Season. Bravo!
- Will Downing *☆* Christmas Time Is Here: One of the classic voices of our time, singing one of the foremost Christmas standards of all time. Well done.
I’m done; holla back!
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