Category Archives: music

A Song of Souls Changed by War: The Minstrel Boy

corby

Absolution of the Irish Brigade at Gettysburg by Father Corby

Friends of Padre Steve’s World. All the things going on in the world, wars, disasters, plane crashes have all have had me a bit melancholy of late. I wonder about all the tragedy, what is going on in Iraq, where so much of my heart is still invested, the situation in Ukraine and the ongoing, seemingly never ending conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, and in the midst of it I am reminded that even today thousands of Americans are still in Afghanistan, pretty much forgotten by most Americans.

So today I have re-done a very old article about a song that means much to me; the Irish song The Minstrel Boy. 

The Minstrel Boy (Thomas Moore)

The minstrel boy to the war is gone, In the ranks of death ye will find him; His father’s sword he hath girded on, And his wild harp slung behind him; “Land of Song!” said the warrior bard, “Tho’ all the world betray thee, One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard, One faithful harp shall praise thee!”

The Minstrel fell! But the foeman’s chain Could not bring his proud soul under; The harp he lov’d ne’er spoke again, For he tore its chords asunder; And said “No chains shall sully thee, Thou soul of love and bravery! Thy songs were made for the pure and free They shall never sound in slavery!”

The Minstrel Boy will return we pray When we hear the news we all will cheer it, The minstrel boy will return one day, Torn perhaps in body, not in spirit. Then may he play on his harp in peace, In a world such as heaven intended, For all the bitterness of man must cease, And ev’ry battle must be ended.

(Last verse anonymous Civil War)

In February of 2008 I was in the process of returning home from Iraq spending my last couple of days in country before flying out to Kuwait and then the United States. I was already in a rather melancholy state knowing that the Chaplain incoming higher headquarters had turned off my relief for Al Anbar Province after I had paved the way for him with all of the teams of advisors that I had worked with during my time serving them. My relief a personal friend was diverted to the Army advisors with a different Iraqi Division in the north of the country. I felt that the incoming senior chaplain had betrayed and abandoned the men that I worked so hard to care for. Later I heard that he had disregarded my heavily detailed after action reports and told at least one senior chaplain that he “had heard that I was out there but didn’t know if I had done anything.”

It was at that point that I realized that you could do your job and sacrifice yourself to complete a mission only to have someone with their own agenda do what they could to discredit you.  Where the senior Chaplain that I worked for did all that he could to support my team’s mission and see that we were properly recognized at Multi-National Corps Iraq in Baghdad his successor dismissed our work. It was the first time in my Navy career that I had experienced that.  I think it was the fact that I worked for a non-traditional billet working for an Army led joint command outside the normal Navy-Marine Corps chain was a big part of this. Inter-service rivalries and the distain of those bound by conventional thinking are not new and those that have done such non-conventional work have frequently been treated in a similar manner.

Looking back there are some songs which are particularly meaningful to me after my time in Iraq that send a chill up my spine when I hear them. One of these is the patriotic Irish song The Minstrel Boy written by Thomas Moore while a student in honor of friends killed in the Irish Rebellion of 1798.  The song was very popular among soldiers of Irish descent in the American Civil War as well as soldiers fighting in Irish Regiments in World War One and World War Two.

The song is powerful when you hear it for it speaks of the reality of war, war that changes those, even those that return home are not unchanged by it.  It speaks of the sacrifices required by those that go to war and even the effects on the community, the loss of young people.  The final verse added by an anonymous author during the American Civil War in a sense is a prayer, a prayer of return as well as reconciliation. It has been recorded a number of times including an instrumental during the film Blackhawk Down. Another rendition is in the television mini-series Rough Riders about the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry at the Battle of San Juan Hill.

My life has been changed and faith challenged. When I went to Iraq I still maintained a sense of idealism.   After Iraq and having to deal with PTSD and a psychological, spiritual and physical breakdown as well as a profound sense of abandonment by some senior chaplains, my former church and even God I am a different person. My faith which had been shattered to the point of being a practical agnostic for nearly two years has returned. I don’t regret that and do believe that it is a good thing. If we are not changed by what God allows or by what life brings I don’t think that we grow. As a Priest I wonder if I could work in the environment that I work without having gone through what I did.

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I see many of the “minstrel boys” and girls of our era and having also been to war and come back changed the last lines of the final verse is a prayer that I echo. One of the versions that I particularly like is the one sung in the Star Trek the Next Generation episode “The Wounded.” While it is only the first verse it deals with the lives of two officers whose lives are forever changed by war. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJudJ9S579A

This is dedicated to all those who have served, those still serving in harm’s way and all who have gone through the pain of war, until war shall be no more.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under iraq,afghanistan, Military, music, Tour in Iraq

From the Heart: Padre Steve’s Favorite Songs of Love and Life for Valentine’s Day

young loves

I have spent many Valentine’s Days away from my wife Judy over the course of my military career. Tonight though, for the first time in a number of years I will be with her. Last year I was stationed away from her and holding the duty pager for the hospital where I served as the Director of Pastoral Care.

In all of these times I have loved music. I remember dating Judy and every week bring in new LP albums or pop 45 singles on vinyl back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Most of the songs were popular on the radio and I would hear them on American Top 40.

I find that music expresses love in ways that I find difficult to do on my own. Perhaps this is because of the fact that I am a historian and not a poet or artist. Here are 25 of my favorites of all time. They are songs that express the emotions of love, love embraced and love requited the joy of love and the agony of losing it.

These are songs that men and women express the feelings of those who have loved, lost and longed for love. They are songs of men and women who sometimes are geographically far away but still close and others that can be sitting next to each other but be as far from each other emotionally and even spiritually as Earth is from the furthest star system in the galaxy.

I think that in my life that many speak to the relationship that I have with the woman that I have loved since the day that I met her back in the late summer of 1978.

It is interested because a number of years later Barry Manilow wrote a song called The Summer of 78 which expresses much of what I felt and still feel about her.

It was one of those summer’s
lasting forever
making the winter wait
a summer of music and passion
the summer of ’78
you appeared like the summer
sudden and perfect
and not a day too late
I swear there was music when I found you
that summer of ’78
it seem we floated through the days

and nights were always filled with stars
and it seemed every song they played on the radio
was ours
it was one of those summer’s
only for lovers
touched by the hand of faith
and now when the winter’s are long
I remember the summer of ’78

barry-manilow

I think any compilation of love songs has to begin with Barry Manilow’s“Weekend in New England” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olApnMheBW8  I think for me, as a career military man who has spent many years away from my wife, sometimes in harm’s way the questions asked in the song resonate. “When will our eyes meet?” “When can I touch you?” “When will this long journey end and when will I hold you again?” have particular meaning and they are part of the longing that I have.

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The Carpenter’s breakthrough hit “Close to You” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6inwzOooXRU written by Burt Bacharach is a song that is fitting for the love that many young lovers feel when they first meet. I remember when we first started dating I could hardly stand to be away from Judy. The song is more one of infatuation than actual love, but I think unless we first have that infatuation that love often remains dormant.

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Bread’s classic mellow ballad “If” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzgBULcFaLw is a song that expresses an almost eternal nature to love.

Jim Croce’s hit “I’ll Just Have to Say I Love You in a Song” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN1nMpmC0n4 is one that expresses how badly the words often come out when we try to communicate with the one that we love. There are so many times the words that I have said have not come across how I meant them. So much of a relationship that is based on how we communicate that care and love for each other, the lament that “every time I’d try to tell you, the words just came out wrong” can be true for many of us.

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England Dan (Dan Seals and John Ford Coley) “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxdsk-cFX-k Sometimes when we love someone we somehow lose contact, or maybe have grown apart emotionally. The song begins with small talk on a phone call and is the words of someone who wants very badly to be together again with the one that he misses.

In a similar vein to “I’d really love to See You Tonight” but perhaps even more heart wrenching is Paul Davis’ “I Go Crazy” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_L886mjb0O8 because the woman that he loves is now with someone else and he sings “when I look in your eyes I still go crazy. That old flame comes alive, it starts burning inside…”

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All couples sometimes have arguments and sometimes those arguments lead to complete silence and even the break up of a relationship. Sir Cliff Richard’s “We Don’t Talk Anymore” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htZir_Taizg is one of those songs where one partner blames the other for the breakup and boldly states that he isn’t losing sleep over the end of the relationship. Not a very good way to go, but a very real feeling for many people in the Lonely Heart’s Club.

Olivia Newton John and Cliff Richard’s duet “Suddenly” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GxxhjFcngM is a song that is a 180 out from We Don’t Talk Anymore. This song is one that speaks of a deep love and admiration for each of the two people in the relationship that they are willing to do anything and go anywhere to be with one another.

years from now

The Dr Hook hit “Years from Now” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfsPeVVL8zE is one that always manages to bring a tear to my eye. It came out about a year after Judy and I started dating and even though it is now well over 30 years since I first heard it I imagined the future, now we are deep into it and I feel the same way. One verse says “I know this world that we live in can be hard, Now and then and it will be again, Many times we’ve been down,Still love has kept us together the flame never dies, When I look in your eyes the future I see.” Since we have gone through many difficult times it is a song that is intensely personal and one that I almost feel that I could have written the lyrics.

David Soul riding high on his success in Starsky and Hutch released “Don’t Give up on Us Baby” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YY8APrYU2Gs in 1977. It hit number one in both the US and UK and was his one big hit. It is a song of a man trying to convince a woman that they have a relationship that is more than just one night. “Don’t give up on us, baby, We’re still worth one more try, I know we put a last one by, Just for a rainy evening, When maybe stars are few, Don’t give up on us, I know, We can still come through.”

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Dan Hill’s “Sometimes When We Touch” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xnyHG96vY8 is a song that means a great deal to both Judy and I. The words are somehow haunting and healing. One verse and the chorus really get to me. “Romance and all its strategy leaves me battlin’ with my pride, But through the insecurity some tenderness survives, I’m just another writer, still trapped within my truth, A hesitant prize fighter, still trapped within my youth. And sometimes when we touch, the honesty’s too much, And I have to close my eyes and hide, I wanna hold you till I die, till we both break down and cry, I wanna hold you till the fear in me subsides.”

Van Morrison wrote “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ4NAZPi2js in 1989. Recorded and released by Rod Stewart in 1993 it is a song that originally was written as a prayer by Morrison. It is sung at many weddings and it a song that I will stop and listen to whenever I hear it.

san fernando 1980

The Australian duo Air Supply is known for their mellow love songs and one of them“Two Less Lonely People in the World” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RidVsFXE2Y0 is one that I like. Sometimes I think that had I not met Judy that I never would have married. I am quite the introvert and often a loner that prefers the adventure of being independent and adventurous and does not like to be tied down. When my father retired from the Navy in 1974 I thought that my life was over, because we were going to remain in one place. Judy had spent most of her life in one city but I took her away from that because throughout my life I have been afflicted with this wanderlust and spirit of adventure. That being said the fact that we are together means that even though we are often apart that there are still “two less lonely people in the world tonight.”

Meat Loaf’s “I Would do Anything for Love” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOikQWAL8qc from his 1993 Bat Out of Hell Album is one of the big world wide rock power ballads of the past two decades. The focus is probably more on the physical relationship that some of the other songs in this list but it has a resonance because the physical is also a big part of why we fall in love with each other. “As long as the planets are turning, As long as the stars are burning, As long dreams are coming true, You’d better believe it, that I would do, Anything for love, And I’l be there until the final act, I would do anything for love, and I’ll take a vow and seal a pact…”

Elton John’s “Your Song” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTa8U0Wa0q8 is a tender ballad of a musician who has little to give his love except a song.

lionel richie and diana ross endless love

One of the tenderest duets for Valentine’s Day comes from Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, the hit Endless Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MP7m5VqQ6f8 was written for the movie of the same name.

The Bee Gee’s How Deep is Your Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpqqjU7u5Yc is another tender song of devotion to a love.

Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEwNcnklcsk is a song that hits hard at a situation that many couples that love each other find themselves. That is when for whatever reason they find that they need to be away from each other, but the key is that they find their way back.

REO Speedwagon’s “I Can’t Fight this Feeling” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqJK29zsO44 is actually quite good because it is a song that sees a relationship go from a friendship to something more, something that sometimes scares the people involved because somehow we often think that we don’t want to “ruin the friendship.” I really think that any relationship that is meant to be has to begin with friendship and the words in the song “What started out as friendship, Has grown stronger. I only wish I had the strength to let it show” is a reality for so many people.

a couple once and young

Anne Murray release a song called Daydream Believer  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gN37gEKDrM that had been recorded years before by the Monkees http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nU615FaODCg , but in 1980 it became one of my favorites as my relationship with Judy began to really develop

Bonnie Tyler’s “It’s a Heartache” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8VGQTtENSs has been recorded and been a hit for Juice Newton and Rod Stewart as well as Tyler. It is a song that speaks of the pain of a broken relationship when one of the people involved is more dependent on the other person than that person is committed to them.

Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xGkscrvMjE is a song that describes the breakup of what may be an illicit love affair. Since a lot of people become involved in such relationships it is a powerful reminder of the pain associated with the end of those relationships.

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A similar theme is part of Laura Branigan’s “How am I Supposed to Live Without You” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MN6JBTGcr68 though it seems that this song is not about an illicit relationship but the betrayal felt by a person who finds that the one that they love is leaving them. Her son Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSDvFUy4ayk tells the story of a woman wondering if her love will still love her.

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I find a lot of commonality with Journey’s power ballad “Faithfully” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMD8hBsA-RI. Written about the love of a couple, one of whom spends his life on the road as a musician and rediscovers his love for his bride. I think that it is a song that any man or woman in the military, or for that matter any other profession that spends much time away from home can relate.

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The tender ballad by Kiss “Beth” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbtO_Ayjw0M is a song that I think expresses how many people deal with the tension between what they love and who they love. The song is about a man who promises to come home as soon as he is done playing music with his band and keeps calling back until finally he admits that he will not be coming home that night.

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Blondie’s Heart of Glass http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGU_4-5RaxU is another song that talks about misplaced love and how many relationships appear to be real but then end with at least one partner hurting and wondering what happened. The Tide is High http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bv_mQIZHeHs is Judy’s ringtone on my iPhone, it is about a girl who won’t give up on her love and Dreaming http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TU3-lS_Gryk  is another song of dreams of love.

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The Swedish super group Abba had numerous songs dealing love, hope, love lost and love found.  “One of Us” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIKAe8Wi0S0 is song about a relationship where one partner thinks that they can do better only to find out that they were wrong. The chorus “One of us is crying, One of us is lying, In her lonely bed, Staring at the ceiling, Wishing she was somewhere else instead, One of us is lonely, One of us is only, Waiting for a call, Sorry for herself, feeling stupid feeling small, Wishing she had never left at all….” finds an echo in many of the people that I meet. Their lesser known song, Our Last Summer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6YqC3D0GMo tells the story of a woman remembering her last summer in Paris with a former lover. Knowing Me Knowing You http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUrzicaiRLU  tells the story of a breakup as does The Winner Takes it All http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUrzicaiRLU

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In the ;late 1970s and early 1980s Kenny Rogers released a number of songs suitable for the Valentine’s Day. She Believes in Me http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSPvv2EUdCA  is wonderful because it talks of an experience that many young lovers know that of having someone who believes in them and their dreams, even when they wonder. You Decorated My Life http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uY-CKe4lvwY talks about the difference a love makes in life, while Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOU4TWGSxZM a duet he sang with singer songwriter Kim Carnes talks about the hazards of falling in love with a dreamer.

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Finally there is a song that from the first time I heard it has been a song that speaks to me about my love for Judy. It is a song that like Dr Hook’s Years from Now, is a reminder of how far we have come and how much we have been through; that song is Kenny Rogers’ “Through the Years” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzEwadgcZnQ which was released in 1982, a year before we were married.

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So to all of my readers, enjoy the music and have a happy Valentine’s Day.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under Just for fun, marriage and relationships, music

Spendin’ the Nighttime Reminiscing: Padre Steve Remembers the Music of the 1970s and Early 1980s

me-and-judy-dorm

I don’t know about you but the music that I really enjoy is the music that was popular when I was in Junior High, High School and College.  For me that period spanned the years 1971-1983.

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It was a turbulent era. The Vietnam War was ending and Nixon was resigning due to the Watergate break in cover-up despite going to China and establishing the beginning of detente with the Soviet Union.  Assassination attempts on political leaders, successful and unsuccessful, were common. Two attempts were made on Gerald Ford.  Prime Minister Aldo Moro of Italy and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt victim fell to terrorists while President  Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II were felled by bullets which did not prove fatal.

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The Cold War was tense despite the beginning of detente and signing of Nuclear Weapons treaties between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Middle East was in turmoil even as Egypt and Israel hammered out a peace treaty withe the help of US President Jimmy Carter. In Iran a revolution swept the Shah of Iran out of power bringing the Ayatollah Khomeini into power.  The seizure of the US Embassy and the 444 day hostage crisis punctuated by a failed rescue attempt demoralized the United States. In October 1983 247 Marines were killed in a terror bombing of their barracks at the Beirut International Airport.

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The Soviets invaded Afghanistan which would become their Vietnam, as part of the Cold War this lead to US involvement with Mujahideen. The US support with the Mujahideen was a fateful alliance that brought the Taliban to prominence and introduced the world to Osama Bin Laden. The Cubans were fighting in Angola while the Anti-Apartheid movement struggled with its leader Nelson Mandela languishing in a South African prison.

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High profile terrorist attacks became common. The Palestinian terrorist group Black September killed Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. European terrorist organizations including the Red Brigades, the Red Army Faction and Bader Meinhof gang, the Irish Republican Army and the American Weather Underground provided a constant string of terrorist attacks even as Middle Eastern terrorist groups highjacked airliners in daring fashion, matched at times by equally rescues by Israeli and German anti-terrorist units.

The American and the world economies were in a state of recession much of the era. There was a major recession, the American auto industry needed bailouts, inflation was running in double digits as was the unemployment rate. The dollar was weak and OPEC wreaked havoc on world oil markets with embargoes in 1973 and 1979.

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However it was music in the 1970s and early 1980s that provided a diversion for many people looking for respite from all the bad news that echoed around the airwaves and in the newspapers.  Thankfully there wasn’t a 24 hour cable news cycle yet otherwise people would have probably been jumping off of buildings.  It was the heyday of AM Top 40 type stations and the beginning of rock oriented FM music stations. Kasey Kasem gave voice to the hits with American Top 40. As for me I had countless 45s and LPs of my favorite groups and artists.

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I listened  Doctor Donald D Rose of KFRC in San Francisco and my car, a 1966 Buick LeSabre 400 had a retro-fitted 8-Track tape player and speakers.

Great groups and artists ruled the pop and rock airwaves and the era produced some of the best rock, pop, R&B, soul, country-rock, disco and new-wave music ever done. It really was an amazing era both in quality and diversity of music .

It was not “message music” like much 60’s music but focused on entertainment.  Power groups like Journey, Starship, REO Speedwagon and Boston made power ballads, while AC/DC and KISS shocked and entertained at the same time.  Groups like the Blondie, the Eagles, Chicago, Paul McCartney and Wings, Abba and the Commodores dominated the pop charts while individual artists such as Olivia Newton-John, Elton John, Carly Simon, John Denver, Lionel Ritchie, Barry Manilow and others satisfied the more mainstream pop crown.  Disco enjoyed a brief heyday with the popularity of Saturday Night Fever and the Bee Gees.  R&B enjoyed a renaissance due to the unlikely duo of the Blues Brothers who helped re-launch the careers of Aretha Franklin, Johnny Lee Hooker, Cab Calloway and a host of others. Country crossovers became big with Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and Glenn Campbell leading the way.  As the 80’s came along new groups and styles were introduced including New Wave and Rap. It was music that helped us through those times.

I listen to that music all the time and remember those turbulent days well. It certainly wasn’t the fact that things were great in the world. That being said despite bad news there was still some sense of that things would work out okay.  Music helped provide part of that sense of hope. It was an escape and the music of that time is still with us. Many of those those groups haven’t gone away and people look back with fondness to the music of the era even as the artists age and pass away.

Here are some of my favorites with links to the videos, they are in no particular order nor are the representative of all the groups that I have in my library of CDs and DVDs, but I enjoy the heck out of them.  Have fun and enjoy.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

Little River Band “Reminiscing” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ_3G4xqSDQ

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Olivia Newton-John “Magic”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7WPwH8Rd6g

and “I Honestly Love You”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zGLSnZGZts 

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The Commodores “Sail On” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zg-ivWxy5KE

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The Eagles “Hotel California” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnkJcjBCG88

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AC/DC “You Shook Me All Night Long”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lo2qQmj0_h4

KISS “I Was Made for Loving You” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7fxN3g5sLw

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton: Islands in the Stream http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=recWNQddJeE&feature=related

Rupert Holmes: Escape (The Pina Colada Song) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaOXWJKsX-U

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Donna Summer: Last Dance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cPIT_T3mYU

Roberta Flack: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9jmusgMgro&feature=related

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Bee Gees “How Deep is You Love

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpqqjU7u5Yc

Dr Hook “Cover of the Rolling Stone” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJu6Up9w2Hc

John Denver: Take Me Home Country Roads http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukUL_I14GPw

Three Dog Night, Joy to the World http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2x3af_three-dog-night-joy-to-the-world_people

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The Carpenters “Rainy Days and Mondays” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPmbT5XC-q0

Paul McCartney and Wings  “Band on the Run http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Qx2jEfBsqY

The Trammps “Disco Inferno” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_sY2rjxq6M

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Rod Stewart “Tonight’s the Night”

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1p96h_rod-stewarttonights-the-nightgonna_music

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Abba “The Winner Takes it All” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92cwKCU8Z5c

and “Waterloo” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj_9CiNkkn4

Elvis Presley: Suspicious Minds

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBmAPYkPeYU

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Elton John “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kMVdazvII4 

Journey “Don’t Stop Believing” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcjzHMhBtf0

Albert Hammond: It Never Rains in Southern California http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pyC7WnvLT4

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Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ9rUzIMcZQ

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Blondie “Heart of Glass” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGU_4-5RaxU

Neil Diamond: Sweet Caroline

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vhFnTjia_I

Boz Skaggs “Lido Shuffle” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIu0jQ5TaRQ&feature=PlayList&p=8201408B8B6E42C8&index=2

Katrina and the Waves “Walking on Sunshine” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPUmE-tne5U

Billy Joel “Piano Man” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxEPV4kolz0

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Barry Manilow “Mandy” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM7SQzq3yHQ

Heart: Crazy on You

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gpNqB4dnT4&feature=related

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Village People: YMCA

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS9OO0S5w2k

Fleetwood Mac “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8arvEzHsA8

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Laura Branigan “Gloria”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tVutw8rjFk

Carly Simon “You’re So Vain”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQZmCJUSC6g

Chicago “Saturday in the Park”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWxA3e9f6rY

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Linda Ronstadt “When Will I Be Loved”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmE7tTzJkbU

Foghat “Third Time Lucky”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fj1O2KtH4kE

The Captain and Tennille “Do that to Me One More Time”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNHcgk5bf7o&feature=related

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Finally, the Blues Brothers “Everybody Needs Somebody”

http://www.mojvideo.com/video-the-blues-brothers-everybody-needs-somebody-to-love/ac0b631b54ff095fd5c0

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Silent Night: The Hymn that Transcends Language Culture and Ideology

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Stille Nacht Autograph in the Hand of Joseph Mohr

In 1816 a young Austrian Catholic Priest in a small parish near Salzburg penned the lyrics to a hymn that even in the midst of war can bind people together. Father Joseph Mohr after moving to another parish in Oberndorf took those lyrics to Franz Gruber a nearby schoolmaster and organist. Mohr asked Gruber to put the words to music, specifically with a guitar accompaniment. Together the performed the song at Oberndorf’s parish church’s Vigil Mass on December 24th 1818.

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There are a number of fanciful apocryphal stories about why the song was written and performed on the guitar, including one about the bellows of the church organ having been eaten by mice, but these are akin to sensationalist tabloid journalism. The simple truth is that Mohr sought out Gruber to arrange the song for guitar to be sung by two people accompanied by a choir for that Christmas Vigil Mass.

Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht 

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb’ aus deinem göttlichen Mund
, Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund’.
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!

 The song rapidly grew in popularity and spread quickly in Europe. A traveling Austrian singing group, the Rainer family performed it in front of Austrian Emperor Franz I and Tsar Alexander I.

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They also gave its first American performance in New York outside the famed Trinity Church in 1839. I continued to grow in popularity and was translated into many languages, now numbering about 140.

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The American Episcopalian Bishop John Freeman Young translated it into English in 1863. It is his version that is most used today in English speaking lands today. A website called the Silent Night Web http://silentnight.web.za has 227 versions of the song in 142 languages on its site.

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Silent Night 

Silent night, Holy night

 All is calm, all is bright

‘Round yon virgin , mother and child

Holy infant so, tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, Holy night
Shepherds quake, at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly, hosts sing Hallelujah.
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born.

Silent night, Holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.

Father Mohr refused to profit from his song and donated his proceeds to care for the elderly and educate children in the parishes and towns he served. He died in 1848.

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I find that the song will bring me to tears fast than almost any song. It is one that I have sung in English, German and French. In my travels as a military Chaplain have used on every Christmas Eucharist celebration that I have done, including at two lonely COPS in Iraq, COP South and COP North on the Syrian Border in Al Anbar Province. Likewise I have celebrated joint ecumenical Christmas services with German military chaplains and civilian clergy.

It is a simple and humble song. It is performed the world over by the great and small, the famous and the unknown. It is a song that in two world wars has stopped the violence as opposing soldiers paused to sing it together each in their own language. This happened during the Christmas Truce truce of 1914 as well as in 1944 along the Western Front during the Battle of the Bulge.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbGZ7T5EHpQ

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On Tuesday as people gather for Christmas Eve and Wednesday when they gather for Christmas Day services the song will be sung around the world. In lands where war rages the song will be sung. It is my hope that someday that war will be no more and the tiny child spoken of in this humble hymn will understand the incredible grace of the message spoken by the Angels as recorded in Luke’s Gospel:  “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.” (American Standard Version)

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Easy Listening Classic Christmas

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“In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah!’ or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall!” Dave Barry 

I love Christmas music of all types and I have a somewhat sick sense of humor that appreciates Dave Barry’s humor. Over the past few days I have been going through some classic Christmas season songs from the Rock, R & B and Country Western genres. Tonight is a popular but not talked about feature of songs that might be best called “easy listening.” They encompass a period from the 1950s through early 1980s and include recordings from some of the most popular artists of the last half century.

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What I find interesting about Christmas in the United States is that it is not just for Christians. In fact some of the most popular Christmas tunes have been written or performed by men and women who are Jewish, Agnostic or sometimes even avowed Atheists.  Actually that is part of the magic of the Christmas holidays in this country. I have many friends who span the spectrum of religious diversity in the United States. Various forms of Christians from the most Orthodox, Conservative and Fundamental to the most ecumenical, progressive or liberal. I also have friendships with Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, followers of Native American religions, as well as Atheists, Agnostics and Free Thinkers.

However despite their religious or philosophical differences most of my friends have a respect for others. Generally, be they Christians or not they want to be kind to others and enjoy the Christmas holiday season regardless of if they believe in the distinctive Christian understanding of the Incarnation.  I think that is commendable because that doesn’t happen in most of the world. In some places some Christians are happy with killing other Christians at Christmas for reasons of dogma, race or tribe.

These songs the implicitly Christian ones as well as the more festive and less than religious  traditional are sung by a wide variety of artists. Many are legendary for their accomplishments.

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Here Barbara Streisand sings Ave Maria http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wFtXvt8TOQ

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But not all Christmas songs are religious in nature. Many speak of human relationships. Barry Manilow wrote and performed Because it’s Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHRi6nAZZWE ,Mel Torme, nicknamed “the Velvet Fog” sang Christmas Time is Here  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phHwxK064RM, the Carpenters recorded and performed Merry Christmas Darling http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR34VJ7HWqU while Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gourmet did Hurry Home for Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR34VJ7HWqU, and Bing Crosby did the playful Mele Kalikimaka (Hawaiian Christmas Song) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEvGKUXW0iI.

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But then some are and because of the theological message of Christmas cannot be otherwise. Julie Andrews version of O Come All Ye Faithful  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdJ6ZdHaFvg, Jim Neighbors http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQKPIplA8Gc and Andy Williams both performed Do You Hear What I Hear? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Em0P9zb3a3k all epitomize that part of the music of the season.

Some singers, in fact many were able to perform religious and non-religious Christmas songs. Vicki Carr sang It Came Upon a Midnight Clear http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yd4qLxVv_9I and I Still Believe in Christmas  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFsel3waJkM.

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Judy Garland sang a memorable version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5g4lY8Y3eoo in the movie Meet Me In St Louis. The song has been recorded by many others including Helen Reddy  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXKQYXiXBqA and Billy Joel, an avowed Atheist who has recorded a number of Christmas or Christmas themed songs including his version of this same song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4LQmQompMs 

Engelbert Humperdinck sang Star of Bethlehem http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBLOJce1EvY and the Ray Conniff Singers performed a version of the Carol of the Bells http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQBpmaIRaiU . Sammy Davis Jr recorded Christmas All Over the World http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW8WyWkV-Gk and Carly Simon did Christmas is Almost Here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0fG9d3y99c

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Of the more implicitly Christian hymns recored Judy Collins performed Joy to the World http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_JyZUnMzDQ while Johnny Mathis performed What Child is This? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwNb3RQYIAQ and Anne Murray who I have always loved to hear, sang O Come All Ye Faithful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oUAnGcT–A while James Taylor performed the spiritual Go Tell it on the Mountain http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifEUn1AxDYo.

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Other songs that speak of the more human and universal aspects of missing loved ones at Christmas include Roberta Flack’s The 25th of Last December http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwuscC7VowY Michael Buble did Christmas, Baby Please Come Home http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIOFMmkrfmo and Joni Mitchell who performed the haunting River http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCwlEnuXYsE. Robert Goulet sang The Christmas I Spend With You http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fko2GVOPbXI Carole King did Love for Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jgsQKJwcdQ

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Perhaps the most famous and popular easy listening Christmas song is Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, which he performed in the movie of the same name http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Yg5g_Xl-uU Many others have sung this classic including Tony Bennett who teamed up to sing it in concert with Placido Domingo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jd0QQmXKAqY . The song is the most popular Christmas song ever written and has been recorded by thousands of artists.

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I think the irony behind White Christmas which makes it such a unique part of the American Christmas story is that it was written by Irving Berlin a Jewish immigrant from Russia. The song is not religious at all, but an almost sorrowful longing for bygone days. The fact that it was released just over two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor made it even more poignant.  Honestly I can’t think of any country where the most popular Christmas song of all time would be written by someone who was not a Christian. I don’t about you but that is something that makes me thankful to be an American. Now if we American Christians could only accord others the same respect and appreciation.

I could go on, in fact as I listen to different artists and songs I can think of many more that could be mentioned. The fact that all cannot be mentioned, including some that may be actually better than some on this list points to the amazing diversity of Christmas and the holiday season in the United States.

So with that I will say good night and until tomorrow my friends,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Traditional Country Christmas

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I grew up in a house with a lot of music. My parents both liked Country Western music, though my dad was more of the fan of it, while mom had much more eclectic musical taste, from rock, to R & B and top 40 Pop music. As a result I was exposed to a lot of different musical genres and the Christmas music played around our house reflected that diversity. I have written a number of articles about Christmas music, the latest more focused on Rock and R & B.

Since I have done those I figured I would add to the mix with the Country and Western Christmas music that I grew up with, which I consider to be classic. What you won’t find in this particular list is anything new, and by that I mean anything done in the last 20 years. This is a conscious choice on my part and not because I dislike the new Country music sound or artists. I actually want to reintroduce people to some of the classics, the artists who made the overwhelming success of the modern artists possible.

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Like R & B Country and Western music comes out of the unique experiences of Americans. The unique styles of the the artists even when they perform traditional Christmas music comes through to make a distinctive sound. Like the R & B artists the Country and Western artists also wrote and performed Christmas music the spoke to both the joys and heartaches of life, especially of lost loves and loneliness.

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Lynn Anderson’s Don’t Wish Me a Merry Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xwd0OvuxtV8 is a song that speaks of losing love and the pain of a broken relationship.

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Loretta Lynn’s To Heck with Old Santa Claus http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEc65BgbK3c is a funny song about a person who didn’t get they wanted for Christmas. She also recorded A Good Old Country Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5x5Ws_fiVVE and the sad Christmas Without Daddy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5x5Ws_fiVVE

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George Jones released Lonely Christmas Call http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvHocPrFcTU another sad song of a broken family and kids missing their mother. Merle Haggard did Daddy Won’t Be Home Again for Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjZ1qCoJyck

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Buck Owens’ All I Want for Christmas Dear is You http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_973SwUSvz8 is another song about missing a loved on at Christmas.

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Ernest Tubb was one of the first to perform Blue Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPz6fge6vBM later made famous by Elvis Presley.

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Tammy Wynette’s (Merry Christmas) We Must be Having One http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5SHleiV08A speaks of Christmas together while Barbara Mandrell’s It Must Have Been the Mistletoe http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cD7NmzQjKDg speaks of love discovered at Christmas. The Silver Fox Charlie Rich recorded the fun Santa Claus’ Daughter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmoA0Zt7xuU

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Kenny Rogers did Kentucky Homemade Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQHnFCMlTlg talks of Christmas in a poverty stricken home. Rogers also teamed up with Dolly Parton on The Greatest Gift of All http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eap7smYFalg a song about love at Christmas.

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Freddy Fender’s If Christmas Comes to Your House http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ltluy_tUkak speaks of sharing Christmas with a child who is sad because of his parents divorce.

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Glen Campbell released the classic Christmas is for Children http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZ_RJjdMyCE in 1968.

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Willie Nelson along with a number of other artists did Pretty Paper http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqNFdFbo8cA and Porter Wagoner recorded a song about a young boy asking Santa for a Christmas tree and his dad feeling bad about being poor called Johnny’s Christmas Tree http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blIOyH2Q2Kw and how his prayer was answered.

Roy Clark

Going to more traditional songs, Roy Clark did a nice rendition of The Christmas Song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSY9szl2bnQ and Johnny Cash did I’ll Be Home for Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3LZr6dSM8A

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Jim Reeves did Silver Bells http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYIv9IPkxJQ and Connie Smith recorded What Child is This? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVkW0MJkUjU .

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Anne Murray recorded Away in a Manger http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOPkImLx8YA and teamed up with John Denver on The Christmas Song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqEBdqxQQeY . Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter did Silent Night http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZbLujMQJ40 while Jim Neighbors lent his amazing voice on O Come All Ye Faithful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkxAaDfkxYg

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But perhaps my favorite Country Christmas Song is Dolly Parton’s Hard Candy Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pttkAyWvAhU was featured in the musical Best Little Whorehouse in Texas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0A3amYOiZms

So wherever you are in whatever circumstance this Christmas season finds you I hope that you find hope and comfort in these songs.

Until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Give Love for Christmas: More of Padre Steve’s R & B Christmas Favorites

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Yesterday I reposted an article from last year about my R & B Christmas favorites. As I listened to each song again I decided to look at some other songs from this genre. It is really fascinating because I am familiar with a lot of them performed in a multitude of musical genres but also because of the diversity represented in this collection.

Some of the songs are traditional carols while others are more secular sung by artists across the style, racial and religious spectrum. In the United States one thing that it is not uncommon to see people who are not Christians singing or recording what are most usually categorized as Christian Christmas carols.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s article the Rhythm and Blues genre has its roots in the heritage of the African American experience and it includes some forms of Jazz.  These songs like yesterday’s span the spectrum of R & B. Some are songs that come directly from the experience of African Americans while others are traditional carols as well as secular Christmas and holiday songs.

So here we go into the second set of my R & B Christmas favorites from some of the greats.

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We’ll begin with guitarist John Lee Hooker and his classic Blues For Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuNf0kqf-HU

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The Godfather of Soul, James Brown has a good number of Christmas song out. Here are a Soulful Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcQJj7d18eA and Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBW3fc15iVg

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The girl group the Emotions have a haunting song that rings true to a lot of people’s experience, What do the Lonely Do at Christmas?   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OBKkmXgXJU

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The O’Jays “I can Hardly Wait for Christmas”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAYXXf-XyNc sums up much of how we anticipate Christmas throughout the year.

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The Temptations’ tremendous vocals on this very original interpretation of Silent Night  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfgNR_aiSTg are amazing.

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Now we go to two versions of Merry Christmas Baby by Otis Redding http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEyV8gnC4aQ  and Ray Charles  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAPvi9Oe29A

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Ray Charles and Dione Warwick performed this duet of It’s Cold Outside http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmWvR-kdnCo at the Grammy Awards but a version I like better is Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton. The only problem with this one is that we don’t actually see the two performers playing off of each other because it had to be fun http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZBFk-Y-4Jo

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Lou Rawls rendition of Silver Bells http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ll_VVOcjaFs is always a nice listen.  While Isaac Hayes wrote, produced and recorded Mistletoe and Me  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJ_qbUwzyLo  in 1969.

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Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul is always amazing. Here are her versions of the classic Spiritual, Go Tell it On the Mountain from which she then segues into O Christmas Tree  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-HHh-pSkiA and her rendition of O Holy Night  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbzCqZRjugc

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R & B legend Patti LaBelle displays her vocals on this for the most part a cappella performance of O Holy Night   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6NeBp8YJY0

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Marvin Gaye’s “I Want to Come Home for Christmas”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6rpnKZR02o is a song that those who can’t be home for Christmas, in this case that of a Vietnam Prisoner of War set in 1972. It is a song that anyone who has served in a combat zone at Christmas can understand.

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No R & B Christmas would be complete without Stevie Wonder and That’s What Christmas Means to Me  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgigrz8nU7A 

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But for a song that I think speaks of the human meaning of the season; something that anyone, of any faith or simply anyone who just want’s to be a good human being can understand it is The Jackson 5’s Give Love on Christmas Day”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUc20MmFeAs. I like it because love is something that any of us can give to someone else if we want.

People making lists

Hiding special gifts

Taking time to be kind to one and all

It’s that time of year

When good friends are dear

And you wish you could give more

Than just presents from a store

Why don’t you give love on Christmas day

Oh, even the man who has everything

Would be so happy if you would bring

Him love on Christmas day

No greater gift is there than love

People you don’t know

Smile and nod hello

Everywhere there’s an air of Christmas joy

It’s that once a year

When the world’s sincere

And you’d like to find a way

To show the things that words can’t say.

Why don’t you give love on Christmas day

Oh, the man on the street and the couple upstairs

Who need to know there’s someone who cares

Give love on Christmas day.

No greater gift is there than love

What the world needs is love

Yes, the world needs your love.

Why don’t you give love on Christmas day

Every little child on Santa’s knee

Has room for your love underneath his tree

Give love on Christmas day

No greater gift is there than love

What the world needs is love

Yes, the world needs your love.

Give love, oh give love on Christmas day

Every Tom, Dick, and Harry, every Susie too

Needs love every bit as much as you

Give love on Christmas day

So with that message I wish you the best in these next few days leading up to Christmas. Until tomorrow my friends…

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Rockin’ Christmas: Music for Anyone to Get into the Spirit of the Season

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Christmas music comes in many forms and genres. Some is quite traditional yet like any music Christmas music has captured the hearts of many artists over the decades of recorded on records, tapes, CDs and now digital media.

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One genre where Christmas music has found a home for the last 60 years or so has been Rock and Roll. I think a great bridge between the more traditional and the contemporary is the duet of Little Drummer Boy between Bing Crosby and David Bowie  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiXjbI3kRus

Of course this is in no way an exhaustive list of these songs, just some plucked from memory that I could find music videos of and which I might not have already done on past years articles. I think that some of these are on multiple posts but still, they struck me tonight.

I usually listen to 60s, 70s or 80‘s music whenever I drive but I think soon I will switch over to Christmas music on my Sirius radio. Maybe I will switch back and forth depending on my mood and the traffic. That being said here are some of the more interesting Christmas songs, some religious, some non-religious by some Rock artists from the 50s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, some of whom are still around recording new versions of Christmas songs.

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Some of the earliest Rock and Roll Christmas songs included a number by Elvis Presley  including the classic Blue Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzHfQk7ATU0 . Brenda Lee’s  Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6xNuUEnh2g and Bobby Helms’ Jingle Bell Rock  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itcMLwMEeMQ seem never to get old, in fact they have been recorded by others. 1980’s new wave rocker  Billy Idol did a classy version of the latter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itcMLwMEeMQ nor can we forget the legendary Chuck Berry who recorded Run Run Rudolph http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCTeXUkTFwQ&list=PLD104FAECADC5F176 which has also had many artists release it since Berry first did.

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The members of the Beatles are not absent from the list. The Beatles released a version of Christmas Time is Here Again http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4vE5DnFWV0  while the members of the Fab Four all released Christmas songs. John Lennon’s  Happy Christmas (War is Over) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPm3CWvDmvc  is a modern classic. Paul McCartney and Wings turned Wonderful Christmas Time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1-sXrdQtog into a massive hit. Ringo Starr’s Glam Rock Come On Christmas, Christmas Come On  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaguXYTXYoA was less memorable while George Harrison’s Ding Dong, Ding Dong was an upbeat and funny song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VggAH1dk3Qk .

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Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermit’s released a version of O Holy Night http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfOqingPZzk while The Beach Boy’s Little Saint Nick http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSynDh_K0EE brought us a very California rendition of a Santa Song. Simon and Garfunkel did Comfort and Joy (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uB_oFQXv3w

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Some of the biggest acts of the 1970s had popular Christmas releases including Gary Glitter who released Another Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kn06NJzYQc4 . Freddie Mercury and Queen released Thank God it’s Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIUmggOhHCM and the Eagles Please Come Home for Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1AaMe1KbwE was a pleading look at a broken relationship. Chicago had a number of Christmas releases including Christmas Time is Here  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8B0jyKBF4U and O Come All Ye Faithful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-9hrvoFpp4 .

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They were not alone British rocker Cliff Richard released Christmas Time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9U0R1kCRzU, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed Christmas All Over Again http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaPj1GoDpQw. Foghat released a version of All I want for Christmas is You http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUv7T_Uq6QU, Bruce Springsteen did Santa Claus is Coming to Town  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CIebZ4RtgY and The Bee Gees Thank You For Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rm6pI8ybtA .

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The groups of the late 1970s and early to mid 1980s are represented. Blondie has always been one of my favorite groups. This is a fairly recent release of We Three Kings http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vecWPafdDQ while Pat Benatar released a somewhat patriotic song called Christmas in America  http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xwgmps_pat-benatar-christmas-in-america_music, maybe we as Americans need to be thankful for what we have at Christmas.

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The classic bad girl, Joan Jett did the Little Drummer Boy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3Qwx8OTV-k , the Girl Band the Bangles performed A Hazy Shade of Winter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvvSQkUK-t4.  One of the more unusual acts who not only did a Christmas song but an entire Heavy Metal Christmas Album was Twisted Sister who have a classic version of White Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_1X-VEhHFc.

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Classic Rockers Stevie Nicks and Rod Stewart did nice versions of classics, Stevie did  Silent Night http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZPyphUNO6k while Stewart performed  White Christmas  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EvQOmjXCxc.

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Like I said, this list is not exhaustive. Since as I do it I keep remembering more I figure I will stop for the night and hope that at least some of these songs help get you into the spirit of the season. After all, there is so much negativity that whether you are a Christian or not the season does present us all the chance to maybe see something positive in ourselves and our neighbors. So with Elton John I invite you my friends to Step Into Christmas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDqi8ENS1FU

 

 

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Jesus and the Top 40

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“And the three men I admire most, The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost, They caught the last train for the coast The day the music died” Don McLean American Pie 

Back in the 1960s to the early 1980s God was not absent from the Top 40. In fact back then it seemed that even non-believers were okay with Jesus. However by the late 1980s and early 1990s much of that good feeling had died away. Few artists would take up songs with spiritual or religious themes, especially those of Western Christianity after that, unless they were artists who cloistered themselves in the self licking ice cream cone and ghetto of the Contemporary Christian Music industry. That is sad because many of these artists are quite talented but through the separatist tendencies of many churches and “Christian” publishers these artists seldom ever break out. Some like Amy Grant have, but she is a rare exception and she has been rejected by many in the church who in her early years were devotees.

I guess that some of the reasons are that many artists had little religious background and for many of those who did their religious experience was negative. This is an indictment of the church if you ask me, both mainline churches and Evangelical churches. Part I am sure was that many churches, be they “liberal” mainline churches or “conservative” or “fundamental” churches lost any real sense of a God that transcended severely political, ideological or doctrinal beliefs that regular people could relate to. As Pope Francis noted about “ideological Christians:

“And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements.”

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But back in the 1960s to early 1980s quite a few artists included references to God and Jesus in their music. In fact even if they were not believers themselves they were at least aware of the ideas, concepts and traditions of faith and included them in often unique ways in their “secular” music.

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Here are some of those songs.

Doobie Brothers: Jesus is Just Alright http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwbGjzF3mB0

Kris Kristofferson: Why Me Lord http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtQOY-0sViQ

Norman Greenbaum: Spirit in the Sky http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cXrEPNvRO8

Ray Stevens: Everything is Beautiful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlwfGh-SVXw

Petula Clark: I Don’t Know How to Love Him http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiBmvy0nR8g

ZZ Top: Jesus Just Left Chicago https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN69GC2amTg&feature=player_embedded

Jesus Christ Superstar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGYi1qJkb0M

Don McLean: American Pie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0Y_XRiJsCI

Simon and Garfunkel: Bridge over Troubled Water http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-PNun-Pfb4 and Sound of Silence http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTCNwgzM2rQ

David Bowie: Word on a Wing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-ojMnEEmU4

Sister Janet Meade: The Lord’s Prayer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bd4iJkNCaZ8

Godspell: Day By Day http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3PjfBQjJT8

Cat Stevens: Morning has Broken http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TWd3skb-Rw

Ocean: Put Your Hand in the Hand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JI1DiddWCKs&feature=player_embedded

Paul Stookey: The Wedding Song (There is Love) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1v84WKC6Pg

Bob Dylan: Gotta Serve Somebody http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cJhIu8PUFI

Some of these songs are true hymns or Gospel songs, others based at least loosely on the life of Jesus or scripture. Others are the artists interpretation of faith or of something that was a part of their experience of God and faith. This doesn’t mean that the theology in all of these songs was good, but it does show that faith regardless of its lack of perfection can still be an important part of life in the public square.

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My hope is that new artists whether they are believers or not will rediscover the more transcendent and eternal dimensions of life and faith. I hope that they will be able to separate the knowledge of Jesus from the more ideological and moralistic aspects of faith and re-imagine the transcendent parts of life which have over the last 30 years or so for the most part disappeared from popular music.

Why me Lord, what have I ever done, To deserve even one, Of the pleasures I’ve known

Tell me Lord, what did I ever do, That was worth loving you, Or the kindness you’ve shown… Kris Kristofferson “Why” 

Enjoy and hopefully be inspired.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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It Never Rains in Southern California: Padre Steve Heads Home to Visit Family and Attend His 35th High School Reunion

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Got on board a westbound seven forty-seven

Didn’t think before deciding what to do

Ooh, that talk of opportunities, TV breaks and movies

Rang true, sure rang true …

It Never Rains in Southern California, Albert Hammond EMI Music

I am heading off to California in morning. It is Northern California and not Southern California but like the classic Albert Hammond Song says “it never rains in California” so I hope this will be the case this week. The weather channel says so maybe it won’t be too bad.

As far as the trip I have to be up pretty early since I have an early flight. So tonight after doing another full day of work around the house I went out with Judy for dinner. Since then I have been getting packed and ready to go.

It has been since my dad died in June of 2010 that I have been home. My last few trips out in 2008 and 2009 happened after Iraq when my dad was dying and I was to put it mildly bat shit crazy in the midst of my post-Iraq PTSD meltdown. Thankfully I am doing a lot better than I was back then.

The costs of the three year geographic bachelor assignment at Camp LeJeune and the need to use leave to go home to Virginia made a heck of an impact on normal travel and vacation plans. We haven’t done much traveling at all the past three years. Apart from a couple of official travel trips to Washington DC or Houston and another to testify at a Court Martial in Germany I have not been out of Virginia and North Carolina. It will be good to see my mom, my brother and his family while I am there as well as my classmates whom I have maintained contact with over all of these years. Our class was special and I really do look forward to seeing my friends again.

My trip is now set except for checking in at the airport in the morning. I have my flight, car and hotel reservations. Thankfully the flight was all but free thanks to a the need of United Airlines to get a flight crew to Washington Dulles on my last trip, netting me a $500 flight voucher which I applied to this trip meaning that my rental car and hotel were the only up front expenses. Since Judy had foot surgery Monday and is on crutches for a few days I will be taking a cab to save her the hassle of trying to get me to the airport so early.

Now I have to admit ever since Iraq I am not a fan of air travel or airports. So once I get to the airport I will probably have breakfast with a cup of black coffee and a pint of Sam Adams at the Sports Bar in the terminal. Flying the friendly skies with a heft case of PTSD requires some adjustments. Since my flight is basically free I will probably try to upgrade my seating for at least the Chicago to San Francisco portion of my trip to avoid being stuck in steerage.

I can’t help but think that while I am on leave between assignments and traveling to California that the United States and much of the world sits on the precipice of war in Syria which could very well have regional and possibly world wide effects. I check in to my new assignment at the Joint Forces Staff College on Tuesday of next week, the morning following my return. I wonder if as Barbara Tuchman wrote about in The Guns of August that the world that I return to on Monday evening or Tuesday morning will be quite different than it is today.

“The muffled tongue of Big Ben tolled nine by the clock as the cortege left the palace, but on history’s clock it was sunset, and the sun of the old world was setting in a dying blaze of splendor never to be seen again.”

Peace

Padre Steve+

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