“The Foggy Dew” performed by The Chieftains and Sinead O’Connor

17 03 2009

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I told you about your Irish blood, right?  Besides the great music and literature, and the knack for telling a good yarn, you have to respect the Irish for their tenacity and independent spirit.  Ireland has suffered many invasions and occupations in history, but always they survive.

“Ah, back through the glen I rode again and my heart with grief was sore
For I parted then with valiant men whom I never shall see more
But to and fro in my dreams I go and I’d kneel and pray for you,
For slavery fled, O glorious dead, When you fell in the foggy dew.”

Never ever underestimate an Irishman (or woman).


“Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues (with Kirsty MacColl) (1988)

25 12 2008

Merry Christmas 2008, sweetheart.  You are six, you are excited, and I’m feeling a little guilty about lying to you about Santa Claus all these years.  Forgive me?

Remember me telling you about your wee bit of Irish blood?  The Pogues were a terrific Irish-punk band back in the day.  Maybe you’ll find some of their music resonates with you, as I have.

I hope all of your Christmases are full of joy and love and compassion.  But I also understand that most people have had rough holidays.  Some people have had nothing BUT rough holidays, or rough days in general.  I’ve been lucky, but still I remember many Christmas days alone and deployed overseas, or working the night shift to earn some extra money, or just being pretty damned depressed about something in my life.

We all have them.  Don’t let the marketing folks convince you that you aren’t “normal” if your holiday isn’t as fabulous as their advertising images.  If you find yourself in a funk, just get through it, and move into the next year resolved to shake things up, to move your life forward.

If you need a buddy to help you through it, to remind you that most of the world is feeling just as crappy as you?  Well, invite The Pogues and their “Fairytale of New York” into your home for a visit.

“It was Christmas Eve, babe, in the drunk tank…”

(Much gratitude and kudos to speedydot001 for the great upload with lyrics!)

“Thanksgiving” by George Winston (1982)

27 11 2008

I have tremendous admiration for George Winston.  He brought the piano back into our homes.  Not too long ago, the piano was the centerpiece for most music in our lives, whether the beat up console in the parlor, or the baby grand in the church or community center.

Mr. Winston’s music is beautiful, reflective, and perfect ambience for any intimate occasion.  I’m guessing that many families don’t consider the holidays complete without his record “December,” from which this track comes.  For some people, Mr. Winston’s music maybe opened the door to Beethoven’s sonatas, which might have led to Chopin, and maybe on to Rachmaninoff.  And that’s fantastic.

We take it for granted, but the piano is an extraordinary instrument.  One of the best inventions we knuckle-headed humans have made.  So much of our music has been composed on piano, and for that alone, it should be respected and revered.  And if you master the piano, you can launch into virtually any musical direction.

I remember your grandma bringing this record home with her one day, shortly after it was released.  We played it all the time, all enjoying it, a shared taste, a little respite from some trying times.

She brought the piano into our home.

She died a year ago, on Thanksgiving eve, as I was packing for a trip up to see her.

I miss her.

She absolutely adored you.

(thanks to equivocaly for the YouTube upload and beautiful slide show images)

“Little Drummer Boy” performed by Bing Crosby and David Bowie (1977)

19 10 2008

Does it get any better than this?  The great crooner, Bing Crosby, and David Bowie together, singing a beautiful arrangement of one of my favorite Christmas songs.  Sadly, Mr. Crosby passed away shortly after taping this special.  I’ll just let these two fine people speak for themselves through this performance.

I’ve always liked “Little Drummer Boy” for it’s simple premise:  a young boy, with no money, offers to play his instrument for his gift.

Do people ever really listen to the words of these holiday songs?  Peace on Earth?  Crazy idea, huh?