Blue Xmas

Like everyone else, I have a set of Christmas traditions. I have a neat stack of records I must listen to before December 25 or else the holiday will be incomplete and lacking in totality. (At least from my personal standard.) 

One of my traditions is watching Mitchell Kezin's engrossing documentary Jingle Bell Rocks! (With a completely unnecessary exclamation mark at the end of it.) It was really only through JBR! that I discovered the brilliance of Bob Dorough, jazz pianist, composer, and songwriter. The first time I watched JBR! my daughter was consumed with Schoolhouse Rock! (Yet, another unnecessary exclamation mark!) And I'll admit to having several of those tunes stuck in my head for weeks. 

But the discovery that JBR! lead me to was Dorough's collaboration with Miles Davis on the track, "Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern)" I've been consumed with the music of Miles Davis recently and I'm always surprised to see how many jazz artists celebrated Christmas with music of their own. Miles never was one to include any kind of vocalist on his tracks. Besides "Blue Xmas" where Dorough does the singing/scatting, I can only think of one other Miles track with a vocalist, "Darn That Dream" off Birth of the Cool. But Dorough snatches the spotlight away from Miles for a curmudgeonly take on the crass business of "Xmas." The word doesn't even deserve it's proper nomenclature, you see. It's insufferable--the holiday and the human race. It's all just that much "folderol." 

It's a gem of song that should be a staple on everyone's "Xmas" playlist. 

Miles Davis, "Blue Xmas" 7 inch single was released for Black Friday, 2014--very fitting

Miles Davis, "Blue Xmas" 7 inch single was released for Black Friday, 2014--very fitting

The Resistance

Very tough to keep the Christmas spirit with you throughout the year--especially as it gets warmer. Taking a note from Steven Pressfield and naming the inability to keep Christmas alive year-round, "The Resistance." 

For me keeping Christmas alive with music throughout the year is just as much a spiritual journey as it is a mental and social one. It mirrors the struggle of the Christian commandment in Mark 12:28-32 to "love thy neighbor as thyself." It's incredibly easy to falter and let slip. 

Still have not located a copy of John Denver and the Muppets TV special. Haven't really been looking very hard either. But I did pick up a used copy of Kylie Minogue's Kylie Christmas just based on the inclusion of a duet with Iggy Pop. It didn't do much for reviving the Christmas spirit because the Resistance is strong. However, I continue on.

Kylie Minogue,  Kylie Christmas

Kylie Minogue, Kylie Christmas

On the Hunt for A Christmas Together

Summer greetings, Christmas fans.

I'm on the hunt for a copy of John Denver and the Muppets' "A Christmas Together." I want to submit a proposal to the 33 1/3 Series on this particular Christmas album and figured a good place to start would be trying to find a copy of the long-out-of-print Christmas special.

Likely the proposal will be rejected (I'm 0 for 2 with them). But even if it doesn't work out, it will become a chapter in my book on the history of popular Christmas music.

The hunt begins. Updates to follow.

In the meantime, some personal musings on music, baseball, and politics (often at the same time) over at my personal blog.

The full LP cover of A Christmas Together.

Deep Tracks from the Interpol Discopgraphy :: A "List This!" Feature for PopMatters

Interpol just released their fifth LP, El Pintor, this past Tuesday. To coincide with that release, I have a published list on PopMatters that takes a look back at some of the lesser-known tracks from the band's first four LPs: Turn On the Bright Lights, Antics, Our Love to Admire, and Interpol, respectively. Feel free to read the list here and drop me a note with your favorite Interpol track in the comments section. 

Haven't reconciled with El Pintor, yet. It's starting to appeal to me a bit more. But, as evidenced from my list, I like my Interpol to be weird and subtle. Thanks all for reading. 

Interview @ Stereo Subversion :: Chris Schlarb

Always enjoy speaking with Mr. Chris Schlarb--especially when he puts out another stellar album, which he is wont to do almost all the time. Read the full interview here. 

Photo courtesy of Chris Schlarb's website

Photo courtesy of Chris Schlarb's website

Chris Schlarb's very excellent new LP, Making the Saint, is available at his website, at Bandcamp, and at Asthmatic Kitty Records. You can also listen over at SoundCloud.