Saturday, December 3, 2016

Another Merry Christmas--music

I LOVE listening to Christmas music.  Some of my earliest holiday memories involve singing and dancing in the living room while listening to a vinyl 'All Star Country Christmas' record playing in the background.  One of my favorite songs from the record was 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus', which was amusing but a little disturbing to my preK imagination.

I was a sucker for singing chipmunks wanting a hula hoop, and hearing about Grandma's tragic encounter with that reindeer.  The Charlie Brown song still sets off a reaction of dancing side to side like the little curly headed twins that were part of the Christmas pageant (I was and remain a girl with hopelessly naturally curly hair.)

When I started driving, a new music component was added to the mix--cassette tapes.  I usually liked to listen to the radio when driving (with the windows down and the T-top open), but every now and then a trip to the mall right after babysitting would line up just right, and I would purchase a tape.  And then proceed to play that tape over and over and over in my little red Civic.

I don't remember the FIRST tape I bought--I was a huge fan of mix tapes, and had plenty of them.  However, I do remember buying the Beach Boys Christmas tape and Amy Grant's 'Tennessee Christmas' tape at the same time (it must have been a GOOD babysitting gig beforehand), and quickly fell in love with Amy Grant's tape in particular.  The tape is long gone, and I don't remember the specific songs, other than the title song, but I do remember playing it over and over, and getting all kinds of feels from it.  Seriously, who would even think of choosing the parades and New Year's Eve tans of California over another tender Tennessee Christmas, where to love circles around me, like the gifts around the tree...?

That was over 30 years ago.  (You have GOT to be kidding me!)  I still love listening to Christmas music.  While my kids listen exclusively to digital music on whatever little rectangle devices are in vogue, I still prefer hard copies, and have graduated from tapes to CDs.  I have seen holiday music trends come and go, and tend to gravitate to old school (Rat Pack, Tony Bennett/duets, Dolly and Kenny).  Needless to say, I was very excited to realize that Amy Grant has released another Christmas album, this one also called 'Tennessee Christmas'.

The first track immediately took me back THERE--the back roads and lakes and friends I grew up with.  A good place.  The song itself is slightly different, but not in a bad or distracting way for folks who loved the original.  And sadly, it brings to the forefront images of the massive destruction of eastern Tennessee by wildfires that are currently still raging..

The next 12 tracks are an eclectic combination of songs with different feels and sounds and genres.  I get the feeling that Amy Grant and the makers of this album just sat around and said, "OK, what are some of our favorite songs that we sing at Christmas time?  'O Come, All Ye Faithful'?--Check.  'White Christmas'?--Sure.  And don't forget "Baby, It's Cold Outside'."

My favorite songs are some of the ones that Amy Grant wrote herself, and that were new to me.  'Melancholy Christmas' kind of has a depressing feel about it (with lyrics about posting on social media and wondering if you will get any 'likes'), but was very real and raw.  Christmas may be commercially promoted as all happiness and bows, but that is not the reality for so many that struggle with all the feelings that Christmas can bring up.

And "Another Merry Christmas'?  Oh, my goodness.  Simply beautiful.

Mary's in a nursing home
She puts her favorite records on
Reminds her of the years long gone
Another Merry Christmas

Billy's home from overseas
The pride of his whole family
Still fights a war that no one sees
Another Merry Christmas

It's happy and sad
The good and the bad
Someone's up, someone's barely hanging on
It's everything all at once
If we're honest enough
Everybody wants to be loved

Every year on Christmas Eve
Jill hangs four stockings
Now just three
Wonders if there'll ever be
Another Merry Christmas

Our painted old nativity
Is fragile like the lives we lead
Silently reminding me
God is with us

Another Merry Christmas 

I think this CD is a keeper.  

I THINK most of the audio tracks are available on YouTube.  This is a link to the second song, 'To Be Together'













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