Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Dad got test results back after his first 3 rounds of chemo: The spot on his lung shrunk by 50% and the tumors on his lymph nodes shrunk by more than that. As good as we could hope -- really good news. He's feeling better than he has all year. Also very good news. If I weren't too superstitious to hope, I'd hope. Thanks for all your good wishes.

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2 new Christmas music faves:

1. On the radio tonight, on the "great songs, great memories" station, I heard Barry Manilow open "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" solo a cappella. Just his voice in a stately rhythm. OK, Barry, you have a lovely voice, but where are you going with this? After the first two lines, a 5-or-6-voice (I think) vocal ensemble kicked in with a harmonically complex, lively, and gorgeous a cappella arrangement for the rest of the song -- like the Four Freshmen or the Beach Boys but with more voices (I think) and with women as well as men (I think). Barry used the complacent post-war lyrics -- "through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow, hang a shining star upon the highest bough" -- and not the heartbreakingly poignant original wartime lyrics -- "someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow, until then we'll have to muddle through somehow." It's the first version I've heard where the singers make the post-war lyrics sound joyous and not just complacent.

2. The Wild Magnolias with John Scofield, "Go Tell It On The Mountain." The Wild Magnolias, a Mardi Gras Indian crew from New Orleans, open the song with a West-African-sounding (or perhaps Afro-Cuban-sounding) chant, before the rhythm section leaps in, percussion flying. 5 percussionists, and they wail. Scofield's guitar solo is juicy edgy funky rippin', and the vocals are great. Electric bass the only other instrument. Tell it!
John, just thought I'd mention that Ralph Blane's original "Have Yourself A Merry..." lyric included the line ""Have Yourself A merry little Christmas/For it may be your last." Someone eventually Blane that this was a touch too morbid, and he got rid of it. Anyway, I love this song -- just about the prettiest of the wistful wartime ballads in the "I'll Be Seeing You"-"As Time Goes By"-"We'll Meet Again"-mode.
What a line! I agree it's too morbid, but I'm glad to know he wrote it -- thanks!

Another one:

"Christmas Eve will find me / Where the lovelight gleams / I'll be home for Christmas / If only in my dreams."
Right on about "I'll Be Home..." I must point out that both songs are completely indebted to "White Christmas," which innaugurated this wartime Xmas theme. Before "WC" Tin Pan Alley was churning out "Priase the Lord and Pass The Amunition"-style war songs. Berlin's hit showed everyone that the WWII war numbers (unlike WWI songs) were all about nostalgia for the homefront, not saber-rattling.
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