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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Christmas Controversy!?!

Was "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (T'was the night before Christmas") written by Clement C. Moore or did he receive false credit for some of his changes to the original??  Or was it actually authored by, Major Henry Livingston, Jr.??

We will never know, but on this day in 1823, in the Sentinel of Troy, New York. This poem was published anonymously.

Here is the original version, notice the Dutch influence with names like Dunder and Blixum.  And a couple of musical versions I like, from the Blenders and a funky one from "Ed Norton" aka Art Carney!

Merry Christmas everyone!

A Visit from St. Nicholas (1823)

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc'd in their heads,

And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap --

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call'd them by name:

"Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer, and Vixen,
"On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixem;

"To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
"Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys -- and St. Nicholas too:

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:

He was dress'd all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish'd with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look'd like a peddler just opening his pack:

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow.
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh'd, like a bowl full of jelly:

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh'd when I saw him in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill'd all the stockings; then turn'd with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight --
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Ludwig!

Born in 1770, Ludwig von Beethoven is arguably the most influential composer/pianist of all time. Today, on what would have been his 239th birthday, we can enjoy his genius.

Here is a piece I especially like, from Jose' Iturbi.

Piano Sonata No. 14 in C Sharp Minor, Op27. More commonly known as the "Moonlight" Sonata.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Let's all get Swingin'

Thought for a Monday, during the holidays, we would get a little swing on!

Here are 4 swinging Yule tracks for your listening pleasure. A couple from Ella and Louis Prima and a couple new swing tracks from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

Happy Holidays, all you Cats!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside! BRRRR

Since it has been so cold here in the Mile Hi City (-7)this week and with the holidays upon us, I thought we would take a listen to one of my favorite "holiday" songs.

Frank Loesser's - "Baby, It's Cold Outside"

Written in 1944, it was not recorded until it was sold to MGM and used in the 1949 musical comedy "Neptune's daughter" with Easter Williams, Red Skelton and Ricardo Montalban. In the movie, there are two performances one between Montalban and Williams and the other with Skelton and Betty Garrett that reversed the roles of the song. The song won an Oscar for Best Song in 1949 for Loesser

My library has over a dozen versions and I believe there are hundreds if not thousands that were recorded.

I have some really good ones, but to me the best one is the one performed by Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone on the "Elf" soundtrack record. I have also included the Lee Ann Womack/Harry Connick Jr. version, the Brian Setzer/Ann Margret versions and a different version by Sammy Davis Jr. and Carmen McCrae as well.

Enjoy and keep warm!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

REVIEW: Raphael Saadiq - The Way I See It

Produced by: Raphael Saadiq

Mixed: Raphael Saadiq and Charles Brungardt

Mastered: Tom Coyne

2008 Grammy nominated Best R&B album

You will immediately notice that the tracks on "The Way I See It" are much more classic in nature than the New Jack Swing that Raphael did with Tony, Toni, Tone'. This his 4th album and first effort in 4 years, outlines a classic merger of the early Motown R&B of Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder (whom joins Raphael on the track "Never Give You Up")and the mid-late 70's R&B from the likes of Teddy Pendergrass and Marvin Gaye.

Raphael wrote or co-wrote all tracks on the record as well as produced, and shows his outstanding abilities in these two areas as well. An over all well produced record with good mixing with some exceptions on the earlier tracks like "100 Yard Dash" and "Keep Marchin'". Mastering of the CD I would give a B-, as there is some over saturation on tracks (the loudness issue), but for the genre, it is a solid effort in a sea of over mastered CD's on the market.

Overall, this is a record I will turn to time and time again.

Rating: A-

Standouts on the record:

  • "Big Easy" with the Infamous Young Spodie and the ReBirth Brass Band - A Great! Song. A well crafted and showcases Raphael's best vocal range with great accompaniment.
  • "Never Give You Up" - Is an outstanding tune that harkened me back to Marvin Gaye the minute I listened .
  • "Love That Girl" - An old style Motown Smokey Robinson-esque tune, although I believe his vocal range is not as solid in the higher registers. But the tune will catch you and hold on.
  • "Just One Kiss" with Joss Stone - The smooth vocals mixed with the smoky vocals of Joss is a knock out!