Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
It’s the Easter weekend. The most sacred time of the year for Christians. We have appropriate music you will love and possibly never thought it would be included on a post like this.
Hallelujah, and let’s get started.
Should we just get to it?
You’re thinking Easter. What’s the go-to Easter song? The biggest egg in the basket?
But regular readers know we like to feature cover versions, including covers of classics. Here’s a toe-tapping number to get us Easter egg rolling, from Lounge Cafe, in a style you may never have heard before. Enjoy!
We just demonstrated that music, when done right, can even put a saxophone to Irving Berlin.
Next, what would Easter be without…
The Easter basket originates from the ancient Catholic custom of taking the food for Easter dinner to mass to be blessed. This was similar to an even more ancient ritual of bringing the first crops and seedlings to the temple to insure a good growing season. The practice, combined with the “rabbit’s nest” of the Pennsylvania Dutch has evolved in the brightly colored containers filled with sweets, toys and the like left for children on Easter morning by the Easter Bunny.
Ella Fitzgerald was 21 and on the road with Chick Webb’s band in Boston when she got inspiration from an old nursery rhyme for a song. The band was broadcast live every night and there was a great deal of pressure on the musicians to come up with new material every week.
Van Alexander was a young arranger for Chick Webb’s band beginning in 1936. Alexander was busy making three new arrangements a week when Ella Fitzgerald came to him with an idea for a new song based on an old nursery rhyme. At Decca Records the song was recorded by a 21-year old Ella Fitzgerald on May 2, 1938. It stayed #1 for 19 weeks.”
On a TV tribute special, the late Natalie Cole paid homage.
Easter is far more important and serious than Sunday finery and chocolate. We commemorate Jesus Christ’s triumph over death, death on the cross.
From Bible Gateway:
“Although crucifixion could take a variety of forms, it was common to have the victim carry the crossbeam to the place of crucifixion where the upright was already in place. Occasionally the victim was tied to the crossbeam with leather thongs, but most often nails were used, as in the case of Jesus. The nails were five to seven inches long and were driven through the feet and wrists, not the hands. Crosses in the shape of an X or a T were used, but since the title was attached over Jesus’ head we know the style used for Jesus’ cross was the shape we usually imagine, a t, which was also a common form. The person was laid on the ground and nailed to the crosspiece, which was then hoisted into place. Often the person was only a short distance off the ground, though the fact that a stick was needed in order to offer Jesus a drink suggests his head was higher than arm’s length above the people on the ground. The nail wounds would cause a great deal of bleeding, but death often took place through suffocation. A little seat rest was attached to allow the person to maintain a position in which it was possible to breathe, thus prolonging the agony.”
Christ would rise a few days later after the greatest demonstration of love.
That brings us to Elvis. The King of Rock taught the world that gospel music was cool and acceptable.
Don Cusic, author of “The Sound of Light: A history of gospel and Christian Music” wrote:
“The biggest contribution made by Elvis to gospel is that he made the rock and roll world aware of the music and gave it a platform on his shows and a sense of respectability in the rock world.”
We post this music feature every week on Friday, this week on Good Friday.
From a 1971 album titled “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
Elvis, you’re on.
A few years ago while recovering and recuperating from hip surgery, I had the chance to read Bill O’Reilly’s fascinating book, “Killing Jesus.” There’s a great line that ends one of the chapters. Jesus has been placed in the tomb, and a nervous Pilate agrees to a precautionary move to prevent anyone from stealing the body. O’Reilly writes, “And so it is that a Roman guard is placed at the tomb of Jesus, just in case the dead man tries to escape.”
Mark wrote in a gospel that on the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices to apply to Jesus’ body. When they arrived at the tomb they saw the stone placed in front had been rolled away. They became alarmed when they entered and saw a young man dressed in a white robe.
“You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified,” he said “But he has risen! He is not here! See the place where they had put him.”
Again from O’Reilly’s book, “To this day, the body of Jesus of Nazareth has never been found.”
Who knew in the late 1950’s that Paul Anka from a talent perspective was eons beyond putting her head on his shoulder.
A creative genius was Anka (Can we say “My Way” for Sinatra?).
He wrote the following in the early 1970’s and performed it in concert years and years later. Get ready to be blown away.
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
Headed to church Sunday?
Long before I ever understood Christ’s atoning sacrifice or appreciated his glorious resurrection, I formed strong associations with Easter. Sure, the candy and family gatherings created fond, joyous memories. But it was the music—the same songs every year in my Methodist church—that blossomed with new meaning after my teenage conversion.
Chief among these tunes is one most will surely recognize—”Hymn for Easter Day,” written in 1739 for the inaugural service at the Foundry Meeting House, London’s first Wesleyan chapel. You know the hymn as “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” composed by the most famous hymn writer of all, Charles Wesley, one year after his conversion.
As with many of the most popular hymns, “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” has survived the centuries thanks to a successful marriage of lyrics and music.
In the years immediately following Christ’s resurrection, alleluia particularly connoted praise for Jesus’ victory over death. Early Christians began greeting each other on Easter with the now-familiar call and response: “Alleluia! He is risen!” “Alleluia! He is risen indeed!” Alleluia is meant to convey emphatic joy, thanksgiving, and triumph.
Still today, Roman Catholics and Anglicans refrain from speaking or singing alleluia during Lent, but they reintroduce the word into their liturgies to express their thanksgiving on Easter morning.
Thanks for reading, and Happy Easter!