Some dreams need work to hold onto–let’s keep working on this one, okay?
As George Washington wrote to the Jews of Newport:
It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.
Well, 2016 was quite a year, and not entirely in a good way. At least it was good for Castro The Band! But we lost far too many special creative people, and rediscovered some deep and unattractive rifts in the world’s social fabric.
Still, it’s over. For 2017, whatever happens in the world…
“Auld Lang Syne,” performed by the BBC Symphony, Chorus, and Singers (and I think the audience, too):
Yeah, yeah, I know, Barry Manilow, yadayada. But did you listen to the song? Because it’s really good. Try listening to the same song sung by Lea Salonga:
Video posted by LeaSalonga–Topic (Provided to YouTube by Sony Music Entertainment)
Beautiful, right? Very much like something you’d expect to find in a Broadway show or in an album of pop standards. People say that all Manilow’s songs sound the same, but my theory is that he sings in a very stylized way even though it sounds simply conversational, and it’s a strong enough style that the songs he sings sound more alike than different. (Not that he doesn’t have a definite music writing style, but the songs on his albums that he DIDN’T write sound as much like Barry Manilow as the ones he did. That’s a neat trick.)
Not to mention that right about now, I find it really nice to hear someone sing “We’ll get through this…we’ll be just fine,” don’t you?
(The top comment on this particular YouTube is by the producer and director of the PBS show, how awesome is that?)
Peter, Paul, and Mary debuted “Light One Candle” during their 1982 Holiday Concert at Carnegie Hall. If you keep count, you will see that the lyrics “light one candle” repeat exactly eight times–and if you watch carefully, you can see that the children light one candle each time that phrase is repeated, making them a human menorah.
According to the Songfacts blog, this is the second most popular song for the end of the year, and it is “the kind of ballad that is usually sung in a melancholy tone because the singer instinctively knows the answer (you’re probably busy).” Fits.
So let’s undercut the melancholy with this playful version sung by Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt:
Maybe it’s that they’re clearly having so much fun, or maybe it’s that it’s a duet, but one way or another, that doesn’t sound sad or wistful to me at all–they sound like the answer they’re expecting is, “Spending it with you, you idiot!”
Tonight will be the third night of Chanukah, and since my family has not yet had latkes at dinner, I bring what I hope will be some inspiration–the Maccabeats singing “Latke Recipe,” lyrics by Spencer Garfield:
We’re a bit short on snow in my part of the world right now, which is not unusual–it’s still on the early side for the white stuff. Of course, the following song‘s rarely-performed opening verse begins “The sun is shining, the grass is green.”
“White Christmas” by Irving Berlin, sung by The Three Tenors:
Video posted by congodfather. (I think the best bit is when the children’s choir joins in.)
The song was written for the Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire vehicle Holiday Inn and became an instant classic. Crosby’s version of “White Christmas” is the best selling record of all time, the single selling at least 50 million copies; when all the various covers are taken into account, the song is estimated to have sold over 150 million copies. This despite–or perhaps because of?–the fact that it’s not so much about Christmas itself as an ideal or dream of what a Christmas should be.
[NOTE: Since the Crosby’s single was released before singles charts were a thing, I’m going by the conclusions of the researchers at the Guiness Book of World Records.]
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