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Padre Steve’s Traditional Country Christmas

Country_Christmas

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.

Lynn Anderson

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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I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day: A Prayer and Hope

advent

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail With peace on earth, good will to men.”

It is not Christmas yet. Yes we are still in Advent and no, we have not even reached the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas. Despite the crass marketing of American retailers they begin on Christmas day not 12 days before Christmas.  Sad but true.

I have mentioned in previous posts here I am listening to nothing on the radio except Christmas music. The liturgical Nazi in me let this joy go away for a number of years wanting to be liturgically correct. I admit that the season of Advent is important and I do observe it in hope and expectation. At the same time there is something special about Christmas and Christmas music. I find that even in its less religious expressions that Christmas music offers something different, more hopeful and peaceful than crashing thunder of our media overload that we see on television, view on the internet and listen to on the radio. Somehow the din of the political war, the real life tragedies that we have little control and even sports can crowd out anything calm, peaceful or good in our hearts.

One of the songs that really speaks to me is I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.  I have heard it a number of times in the past few days and each time it really touches me.

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The song has been recorded in a number of versions by different artists over the years. However, the words of the song go back to the American Civil War. It began as a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas Day 1863 following the serious wounding of his son in battle as a Union Soldier and the death of his wife in a fire.

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http://www.myvideo.de/watch/5531008/Frank_Sinatra_I_Heard_The_Bells_On_Christmas_Day

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

I like the version sung by Frank Sinatra, which the music was composed by Johnny Marks, composer of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Another earlier version composed by John Baptiste Calkin has been recorded by Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash among others.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcP8xvgwucs

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The words are haunting. Probably because they demonstrate the profound tension that lies at the heart of the Incarnation, which is the heart of Christmas and the Christian faith. the tension, played out so well in the song is the existence of a message of peace and reconciliation in a world where war and hatred of many kinds tear human beings apart and the tragic inability of Christendom to even come close to the message of Christmas.

I heard the bells on Christmas day

Their old familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet the words repeat

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along th’ unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

The reality of this is seen in the third verse. It is a verse that echoes throughout history and seems to be true even today.

And in despair I bowed my head

“There is no peace on earth,” I said,

“For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

The interesting part about the songs as opposed to the poem is that they omit three of Longfellow’s verses, that admittedly in a reunited country would not help record sales. Those verses speak to the heart of the Civil War.

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime,

A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound

The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn

The households born

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

But Longfellow hears in the bells something more powerful. It is the message of Christmas and the incarnation. The message that justice and peace will finally embrace.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail

With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Till ringing, singing on its way

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime, a chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

As wars rage in the Middle East, tensions rise in Asia, Africa and even Eastern Europe while the Unholy Trinity of Politicians, Pundits and Preacher rage in conflict over another potential Fiscal Cliff, the Affordable Healthcare Act and other budgetary and social issues it is important not to give in to despair.

As Longfellow so well put in the middle of a terrible Civil War, where his son had been wounded and following the death of his wife “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Favorite Fun “Good Times” Songs

I love music and there is something about the less serious of songs that make them really fun to listen to.  Since I have written about my favorite songs of the 1970s and 1980s as well as my favorite love songs I started thinking about my favorite funny songs.  Some are connected to movies but other were songs that somehow or someway that found their way into my life.  So here they are in all their humorous glory.

The first on the list is Herman’s Hermits – I’m into Something Good http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxDh2sYQRpo which came out in 1965 and the video from the movie  The Naked Gun with Leslie Nielsen and Priscilla Presley http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zrhzt51UYZA

Manfred Mann Band

Another feel good song was Manfred Mann’s – Do Wah Diddy which came out in 1965 and when it was used in the movie Stripes became a song that in some places was actually used as a marching “Jodie” in some Army units  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj9fofFGXKc The Stripes version is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZPIU0wGVkQ It is hard to believe now but this came out about the time I enlisted in the Army and the uniforms take me back to my ROTC pre-commissioning “advanced camp” at Fort Lewis Washington.

Since I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s the drug culture was a part of life. I never was part of that scene being a ROTC nerd but had many friends who dabbled in various types of drugs in that era. Ringo Starr’s No No Song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVGerWFYotQ was a classic of the era.

Not to be outdone by a Brit the American band Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show – produced a number of songs that dealt with all sorts of experimental behavior, many of which were written by children’s author Shel Silverstein.  At the Freaker’s Ball http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hs5MAWinxqQ which came out in 1974 was one of the more outlandish of the mostly outlandish songs that they came out with in the early 1970’s.

One of the classic “feel good” songs ever produced was Three Dog Night’s – Joy to the World which came out in 1970 http://video.nate.com/209973994 I remember this one from back in 5th grade when I lived in Long Beach and it was on the AM radio.

Jim Croce’s Bad Bad Leroy Brown http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaVPASJmeMU was a fun song which I remember on the radio as well when I was in junior high school.

One song which came out in my sophomore year of college when I first started dating Judy was Rupert Holmes – “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrcQqCii4Rk This too was a fun song which in some ways epitomized the era.

When I was in high school there were a number of songs that were great to groove to including K.C and the Sunshine Band’s Get Down Tonight http://www.myvideo.de/watch/1959599/KC_And_The_Sunshine_Band_Get_Down_Tonigh, and the Commodore’s Brick House


Blondie’s- Island of Lost Souls http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7gqErYW0K0 is a very quirky song which I fell in love with the first time that I heard it. It is one of those songs that once I get it in my head it is frequently hours or days that I find myself singing it or humming it walking down the halls at work or in my car.

The Johnny Cash- A Boy Named Sue http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n–1wR4L7zg came out when I was in grade school. I think I remember it from at least 5th grade but I am not sure. I think of this song every time North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il hits the news, instead of a “Boy named Sue” I think of the “Boy named Kim.”

How can I not go without an Abba song? They had a number of quirky and fun songs to match many of their more serious ballads and love songs.  The song When I Kissed the Teacher http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VR4LJjCBWE0 is one of those that I thought about anytime I had a really good looking and nice teacher in high school or college.  Somehow learning is easier when the teacher is a really hot lady with a nice personality. I don’t know why but it is.

Elton John’s – Crocodile Rock http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2Ta0qCG8No hearkened back to the 1950s and was always a favorite fun song for me.

Since I am in the Navy and grew up in a Navy family the Village People’s In the Navy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InBXu-iY7cw has always been a favorite.  The ship featured in the video is the USS Francis Hammond FF-1067 a Knox class frigate. The song still shows up on occasion in things dealing with the Navy.  I can’t remember a funny song about the Army when I was in although we did use Do Wah Diddy on occasion.

The Monster Mash http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9Dz5yui0Rc was always a favorite at Halloween.  This version was produced by the legendary Dr. Demento.

Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irp8CNj9qBI was a totally quirky song and was featured in the movie Wayne’s World http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTheG–2NE0

The Go Go’s Vacation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eo8S3iFdzUc was a great song of its era and is still fun to listen to even almost 30 years later.

Lindsey Buckingham’s – Holiday Road http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nLiQBV6A7c was the into song to the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation and that version is featured here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_a6e0qhfzu0&feature=related

Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Time Warp http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yarYjuN-m8I was one of many fun songs from that cult classic.

The band Sha Na Na was a nostalgia type band which launched not long after the movie American Graffiti during the 1970’s nostalgia for the 1950s. The band was one of a number of acts including movies and the series Happy Days which helped introduce my generation to the music of the 1950s giving us something in common with our parents, imagine that? Their song Sha Na Na http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NyK3df0xaw is a classic of that genre.

The Bangles Manic Monday which came out in 1986 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s48kuKLf0mE was yet another of the quirky classic 80’s feel good songs by a girls band.

Weird Al Yankovic produced many parody songs including Eat It http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyfcOriVKBM a parody of Michael Jackson’s Beat it.

My dad was transferred from Long Beach to the Bay Area in 1971.  We moved to Stockton the birthplace of the “drive by shooting” which is about 8 miles from a little town called Lodi.  John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival did this song about being stuck in Lodi California.  The Song Lodi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks4PkmoRnMo is one of those songs that you really appreciate if you have ever been to Lodi.

Ray Parker Jr.’s song Ghostbusters became an iconic song from the 1980s when it was featured in the movie Ghostbusters starring Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis and Sigourney Weaver. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4uxIo4t7xM&a=fnwJqf_wcQA&playnext_from=ML

Of course when it comes to fun you can’t leave out the Blues Brothers Everybody Needs Somebody to Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCTJeT2i9QU was just one of many feel good songs in this classic which introduced many of my generation to the great blues artists and the songs Shake Your Tail Feather http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rN5V-6yCbpg and Aretha Franklin’s Think were classics from that movie.

The Monkey’s Daydream Believer http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xo9pi_the-monkees-daydream-believer_music is one of those catchy songs that once you hear it is hard to get out of your mind.

Katrina & the Waves Walking on Sunshine http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eONhto0x_nI is a great feel good or happy song from the mid 1980s.

Of course no one can ever leave off Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpzV_0l5ILI from any collection of fun songs although I think I like this version from the Blues Brothers better  http://www.myvideo.de/watch/3656690/The_Blues_Brothers_Jailhouse_Rock

So anyway, I do hope you enjoy these fun songs from the past.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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