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.
We continue our weekly musical Christmas card with a theme that’s different. Repeat. different.
Here’s how it’ll work. We’ll start with a short snippet of a nice version of a popular Christmas tune. And then we’ll follow that up with the full selection of the same tune, only different. You’ll get the picture for sure.
Let’s begin with the Christmas String Quartet, an ensemble from the United Kingdom.
No doubt about it.
Now let’s add in some HO-HO-HO!
Well, I’d say we’re off to a rollicking start!
Back on November 11, Setzer canceled his Christmas Rocks! Tour with his orchestra. Setzer was diagnosed with a severe case of tinnitus, a condition that causes sufferers to hear a constant noise or ringing in their ears, often tied to age-related hearing loss or an injury to the inner-ear hair cells.
“It’s heartbreaking to disappoint my fans who have shared my Christmas seasons with me for over fifteen years,” Setzer said. “I’m truly sorry for the inconvenience this has caused all of the amazing people who make my tour happen and to my unbelievably loyal and devoted fans. I hate to let you down and I hope you’ll understand.”
Setzer’s tour did not include Wisconsin, but did have stops in Chicago and Minneapolis scheduled.
Now we go back to 1994 and the country rock band “The Tractors.” In August that year they released their first album. Wanna guess what it was called?
On January 2, 1995, the group appeared on late night TV to perform their big hit single from that LP.
“Baby Likes to Rock It.”
That naturally led to this in late 1995.
Crowds gathered to watch The 2019 Canadian-Pacific Holiday Train as it traveled through Wisconsin Dec. 2-4. Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The writers of this next 1932 classic ran into a stone wall. No one wanted to produce it. That’s a kid’s song they were told. But after comedian Eddie Cantor sang it on his radio show, the tune took off.
Remember this 1970 animated film starring Fred Astaire?
Our next performer has a velvety smooth voice that lifts you to the heavens. Yes, another interesting twist from a 1990 album, and it’s funny, too.
“I sang in a grade school choir at St. Dominic’s, and we sang morose Catholic songs all year,” said McGovern in a 2012 interview. “So we got to Christmas, and we got to sing something joyous, and I loved it. Everybody does their obligatory holiday album and I guess I was an elf in another age because I have hundreds of Christmas albums at home, so I approach these songs with a joy and sense of wonder and whimsy and great fun, and not as museum pieces.”
Time to get serious, if only momentarily.
Milwaukee Magazine wrote in 2018, “we see The Nutcracker to relax and celebrate, taking in a magical tale told through dance,” and that it’s “one of the most cherished holiday traditions in America.”
Wait a minute. Is that “Straight No Chaser” responding with a Bah Humbug?
Hooray it’s Christmas time
But there’s one lousy tradition
There’s a certain show that you will see
That is all and many would agree
It is time to find another show to substitute
For the Nutcracker
I’m watching the game
But something’s wrong
Staring is my wife
Her face looks long
I know that look, it must be me
It’s not our anniversary
I shrug, no clue
What did I do
She stands in disbelief (What?)
This holiday scene brings no laughter
Forced going to see The Nutcracker
I try to block it from my mind
Think fast, what reason can I find?
Got work to do, I’ll fake the flu
No chance, I’m done, I’m screwed (No!)
I’ve seen the Nutcracker twenty times
Sure it is fun if you are four (bum)
Don’t call me a Scrooge ’cause it’s a bore
The story’s dated and that Mouse King thing
Freaks me out (Ahh!)
Well, guess I’m a guy, what can I say
I’d rather watch football than ballet
I try my hardest not to groan
And pull the score up on my phone
As I complain, “It’s not the same”
We’re rushing out the door (Go!)
All holiday shoppers on the road
My holiday spirit might explode
Of course, there is no place to park
We’re late, the theatre’s in the dark
In no small feat, we find a seat
The show’s about to start (Shh)
Here’s that song from Tetris
And I know it’s the part
When I fight not to fall asleep
March the wooden soldiers
Bunch of mice start a fight
Land of sweets, man this stuff’s trippy
By the way, this story makes no sense
Still don’t know what it means
After all these years
So confusing, feel like snoozing
Eyes are heavy, as I start to dream
Woah, I’m awake, must have fallen asleep
Guess I didn’t snore or make a peep
‘Cause my wife had no clue I’d been out cold
Is the finale coming up
‘Cause there is no beer left in my cup
To make it through, I’ll need another drink
Snuck out to the lobby
Oh, look, I found a TV
I forgot the game was happening
It’s down to the wire
Time will soon expire
Down by one, this kick would win it
(Hut, hut) The ball snapped
(Oh, no) The kick’s bad
(Wide right) No
(We lost) No
How could this night get any worse?
Now I’m feeling all depressed
But I still have to act impressed
A pirouette, oh wow, that’s great
A six-year-old could do that, too
Saw my team lose at the bar
Now dancing dudes in leotards
Last Nutcracker hopefully
But my wife’s thinking differently
She leans in closely, whispers softly
“Can’t wait for you to take me next year.”
The a cappella group was formed at Indiana University in 1996.
Now the year is 1977.
It was bit bizarre. Odd. But delightful and pleasant.
Bing’s daughter Mary recalled, “The doors (on the set) opened and David walked in with his wife. They were both wearing full-length mink coats, they have matching full makeup and their hair was bright red. We were thinking, ‘Oh my god.'”
Producers instructed Bowie to remove the lipstick and take the earring out. It was just incredible to see the contrast.”
Ian Fraser was there. He composed the “Peace on Earth” segment.
Bowie “came in and said, ‘I hate this song (Little Drummer Boy). Is there something else I could sing?’
“We didn’t know quite what to do.”
They eventually worked it out.
Now for the twist and it’s rather subtle. A new CD is out that has the voices of the late Crosby and Bowie accompanied by a famous orchestra.
The duet was recorded on Sept. 11, 1977, for a TV broadcast scheduled for late November. Crosby never saw it. He died on October 14 of a heart attack on the golf course.
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
I HATE “The 12 Days of Christmas.” BORING. Too repetitious. Like one giant skip in the record. Did I mention boring?
There are exceptions.
Frank, Frank Jr., Nancy and Tina.
Different. Thank goodness.
Here’s another rendition that breaks the mold, big time.