Hello everyone and welcome to Day 3 of Jim Fusco’s 14 Day of Rock’n’Roll Christmas! We keep it rolling tonight with my favorite Christmas song- “Little Saint Nick” by the Beach Boys! This song is one of the few Christmas songs that I think holds up as one of the band’s better early songs. It’s tough to describe, but think of any other artist and think of their Christmas hit. Like “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney. That’s not a great song, really. But, I like “Little Saint Nick” right up there with the rest of the Beach Boys’ early hits. Maybe it’s just me, but then again, I’m a superman!
Please make sure to stay tuned, as we have 11 more songs coming your way. I can’t wait to unveil the rest, but let’s hope it takes quite a while, as we don’t want Christmastime going by that fast!
I love traditions. If there’s one thing you must learn about me, it’s that. I get unreasonably upset when someone tries to break my time-honored traditions. So, every year, I painfully wait until the day after Thanksgiving to listen to Christmas music. And, if you must learn a second thing about me, it’s that I LOVE Christmas music. Christmas songs are synonymous with family traditions. And here, I will give you a good rundown of all my favorite Christmas albums and songs, plus a little section on why I love Christmas music so much.
How Can Someone Love Christmas Music So Much?
Many people I talk to really don’t like Christmas music all that much, especially around December 26th. But, I have a few reasons why I love it so much. First, I make sure that I do not listen to any Christmas songs at all before the day after Thanksgiving. Why? Because it’s more special that way. I don’t get sick of Christmas music because I refuse to get into the spirit too early (like in October, as you see in all the malls). So, when the day after Thanksgiving comes and I get up super-early for those amazing sales, I’m all too giddy to play my first Christmas song of the season. And by January 1st, I’m usually pretty bummed about the fact that I have to wait another 11 months to hear my favorite tunes again.
Another thing I love about Christmas music: for the most part, they’re all happy! And even if they’re not happy (like Nat King Cole’s “The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot”), they have hope. After listing to that song, I can only imagine that the “little boy”‘s mother re-marries and that boy has some happy Christmases ahead. I really don’t like sad songs. I mean, when I listen to music, I want to feel good. Give me a song about keeping the summer alive and a good guitar solo and I’m a happy person. And the innocence that you hear when the Beach Boys sing on their Christmas album- no drugs, no craziness, just kids singing and playing some really joyful tunes. You can’t listen to “The Beach Boys Christmas Album” without a smile on your face.
Christmas music is also timeless. It’s the one genre of music that crosses all style and age boundaries. You’ll hear teenagers singing to Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” and you’ll hear my parents rocking-out to “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band-Aid. What a season…
So, now you have some insight as to why I love Christmas music so much. But, you may be wondering- with all the Christmas albums and songs out there, what’s any good? Well, I’m taking a big leap here and making a Top 10 list of each of my favorite Christmas songs and Christmas-themed albums. It’s going to be tough, but here it goes:
Jim Fusco’s Top 10 Christmas Songs:
The Little Saint Nick- The Beach Boys: Even though I love the song at #2, this classic Beach Boys tune gets the top prize. It even won “Best Original Christmas Song” on our radio station, WCJM. The tune to this song is great, the harmonies are tight, and Mike Love’s vocals are spot-on. The instrumentation is sparse (it’s actually the Beach Boys playing the instruments), but that makes me love it more- it’s truly a band effort. And, I have inside information proving that Brian actually wrote the lyrics!
Santa Claus Is Back In Town- Elvis Presley: Hands-down, this is the coolest Christmas song ever. Over 50 years later, and this song still rocks. The groove, Elvis’ lead, the Jordanaires backing vocals, and that amazing piano solo prove that this song was ahead of its time. This is not only one of my favorite Christmas songs, but one of my favorite all-around songs, as well.
Baby Please Come Home- Darlene Love: The Phil Spector Christmas Album (“A Christmas Gift For You”) is an amazing album, as you’ll see it in my Top 10 list of best Christmas albums below. I love many of the songs on that record, but the final song, “Baby Please Come Home”, just wraps it all up (no pun intended). Darlene’s soaring vocals and that classic Spector production give me chills every time I hear it.
Don’t Need A Reindeer- The Moody Blues: I know, you’ve never heard of this song. But, trust me- you’re missing out. Off of their Christmas album from just a few years ago, this song has everything I love: a great tune, a good beat, great vocals, and a happy message. Please, do yourself a favor and buy a copy of this song!
Merry Christmas Darling- The Carpenters: Most people who know my musical tastes know that I’m not the biggest fan of female singers. But, you’ll notice that there are three songs sung by women on this list! And, again, that’s what makes Christmas music so amazing- it crosses all boundaries of musical styles. In this case, I LOVE Karen Carpenter’s voice. She doesn’t do too much. The chords are great in this song, too. Why isn’t it #1? One word: “Christmas-ing”.
Elf’s Lament- Barenaked Ladies: Okay, I’ll admit that I wanted to put “Footprints” here, but that’s a sad song, albeit great. Anyway, “Elf’s Lament” is such a fun song and gets you in the spirit very quickly.
On Christmas Day- Brian Wilson: I can’t tell you why I love this song so much. But, it’s just got a great tune, great vocals, and interesting chord changes. Brian sounds so young in this recording, even though he was in his mid-sixties. I wonder if anyone else notices the striking similarities between this song and “Bells of Paris” from M.I.U.?
Winter Holidays- America: Dewey Bunnell has such a gift of combining crazy inversions of chords and coming up with some off-beat songs. This Christmas tune is a not only a nice song, but gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling at the same time.
Hey Santa!- Carnie & Wendy Wilson: Why is this song on the list? Well, the late-80’s cameo by Carl Wilson was certainly a factor. The ending of this song is so great. This is another example of women who don’t do too much with their vocals- they just sing the song. And even though this song gets a bad rep, you still gotta admit it’s a catchy tune.
Run Rudolph Run- Chuck Berry: I don’t so much love this recording (Chuck sounds like he’s really phoning-it-in on this record), but I love the song. It’s classic Chuck Berry style and has some pretty nifty guitar work going on. I really started loving this song once we played it in concert and I got to do the nifty guitar work!
Jim Fusco’s Top 10 Christmas Albums of All Time:
Elvis Presley’s Christmas Album (1957- recorded in two days and only 6 songs, but man, this album rules)
The Beach Boys Christmas Album (everything from Al’s first lead vocal to Brian’s first solo performance)
A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector
Holiday Harmony- America
Barenaked For the Holidays- Barenaked Ladies
December- The Moody Blues
What I Really Want for Christmas- Brian Wilson
Our Christmas Gift To You- Chris, Jim, and Mike (that’s US!)
What’s It Gonna Be, Santa?- Chicago
I Wanna Be Santa Claus- Ringo Starr
I hope you’ve enjoyed my commentary and my lists. I hope to edit these as the holiday season goes on- remember, I’m doing this from memory, as I haven’t listened to any Christmas music yet this year! So, I’ll update the post as I see fit. Who knows, maybe Dylan’s new Christmas album will make the list! Yeah, and I hear Elvis is coming back to life this year, too…
Hello and welcome to another all-new edition of the Laptop Sessions. To kick off another full week of new material, I’ve reached into the Moody Blues catalog of songs — specifically from their 2003 album December — to bring you a cover song version of their cover of the Mike Blatt and Tim Rice song “A Winter’s Tale.”
Now, although I am an English teacher, this is not to be confused with the William Shakespeare play “The Winter’s Tale.” Not only is there a notable difference in parts of speech (namely the indefinite – “a” – versus the definite – “the” – articles), but there is also a big difference in tone. Still, “The Winter’s Tale” is quite a trip. Consider, for instance, that this play contains one of Shakespeare’s most infamous stage directions: “Exit, pursued by a bear.” What I find the most interesting is that there is contention over whether he used an actual bear for the original productions, or simply a man dressed in a bear costume.
I would assume the latter, but the former is just so much more fascinating…
But this is all beside the point.
“A Winter’s Tale” is one of those songs that is indisputably beautiful, sung perfectly by Justin Hayward. For those who have seen them in concert recently, you may have noticed my apparel is a nod to Hayward’s typical onstage wardrobe. That wasn’t too difficult to arrange, as I simply removed my tie and jacket and voila! Of course, this is also one of those songs that, upon playback, forces me to remember I’m a rhythm guitarist hammering away at what is such a subtle, pretty song at heart. During our MoU Christmas concerts, Mike would front the band on this one, fingerpicking and taking the lead — and for good reason!
The reason I’m standing up is because the song simply didn’t sound right when I played it sitting down. I found I was having trouble getting comfortable as I played it.
Of course, the majority of the song being played on barre chords didn’t help either…
Several takes and several strained ligaments in my hands later, you’ve got yourself a new Laptop Session.
As a final note about the song, I found it very interesting that this song, originally written by songwriters Mike Batt and Tim Rice, hit #2 on the UK charts back in 1982. Batt teamed up with Rice to write the song for performer David Essex. Another interesting bit of trivia is that Batt went on to produce Justin Hayward’s solo album Classic Blue between 1988 and 1989 at Abbey Road Studios in London. Classic Blue, ironically, is an album of covers. The track listing includes three songs written by Batt, as well as classics from Brian Wilson, Lennon/McCartney, and Led Zeppelin.
I hope that you enjoy this installment of the Laptop Sessions, and I encourage you to hurry back for more very soon. In addition to your regularly scheduled (yuletide?) cover song music video tomorrow, there may be a brand new Guest Session on Friday, as well as another edition of the Weekend Review. If you missed last weekend’s music review, you should know that I just kicked off a top five albums of the decade countdown. Each weekend between now and January 2nd, 2009, I will reveal another album on the list, as well as a full review. Then, on January 2nd, I will post my full “Top Thirty Rock Albums of the Decade” list, along with my review for the number one rock album of the decade.
Thus far, the Barenaked Ladies’ Maroon (2000) has cinched the #5 slot. Which album will rank as the fourth best album of the decade?
You’ll have to tune in to the Weekend Review to find out…
To see how it’s played in the cover song music video, CLICK HERE!
“A Winter’s Tale”
The Moody Blues
Intro: F Bb F Bb F C F
The nights are colder now
Maybe I should close the door
F C Dm
And anyway the snow has covered all your footsteps
And I can follow you no more
The fire still burns at night
My memories are warm and clear
But everybody knows
C Bb C F
It’s hard to be alone at this time of year
It was only a winter’s tale
Just another winter’s tale
And why should the world take notice
Of one more love that’s failed?
A love that can never be
Though it meant a lot to you and me
On a world-wide scale
We’re just another winter’s tale
Instrumental: F C Dm Dm/C/Bb C F
While I stand alone
A bell is ringing far away
I wonder if you’re here
I wonder if you’re listening
I wonder where you are today
Good luck, I wish you well
For all that wishes may be worth
I hope that love and strength
Are with you for the length
Of your time on earth
Sing the following over the end of the instrumental:
Bb C F C – F
We’re just another winter’s tale.
** These chords and lyrics are interpretations and transcriptions, respectively, and are the sole property of the copyright holder(s). They are posted on this website free of charge for no profit for the purpose of study and commentary, as allowed for under the “fair use” provision of U.S. copyright law, and should only be used for such personal and/or academic work. **