Free Internet Radio: WCJM.com is Your Free Christmas Music Source!

By Jim Fusco:

By this time of the season, most people are actually getting a bit sick of Christmas music.  And, really, how can you blame them?  At work, we have the local radio station, Light 100.5 WRCH, playing all day.  And I heard that Mariah Carey song, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, literally five times in an 8-hour span.  And I tell you- that’s way too much.  I know most people don’t listen to the radio for eight hours at a time, so they want to hit the morning and rush-hour crowds with the same popular songs.  But, as we here at the Laptop Sessions have tried to prove, there are TONS of Christmas songs that never get played on the radio.  And these are great songs that would provide some variety throughout the day.

Which brings me to my topic for this evening: WCJM Free Internet Radio!

You see, WCJM is an amateur internet radio station that I started (well, let’s just say “continued”) with my brother and some friends back in late middle-school.  The best part, for me, is that it still lives on today!  Even though many members of the cast (which ballooned-up to seven) have either moved-on with their lives or have changed in many ways, I still listen back to all of the shows online and remember the “good old days”.  Ah, to have all my friends back the way they were in 2001…

Of course, Christmas for me is always about nostalgia.  I just love reminiscing about past Christmases and always going through our traditions on a yearly basis.  I think my parents can see very well that my wife and I have really made a duplicate of their Christmastime house out of our new home.  And that’s the way I always want it to be.  I’m a fan of consistency, folks, as if you haven’t guessed that already.

Anyway, so each year, I bust out the Christmas radio shows (which are now on my iPod) and listen to them at least two or three times apiece.  Here’s a rundown of the shows and what they feature:

The Everything Is Christmas Show: This radio show is a very important one for WCJM Free Internet Radio, because it has the debut of Alberto Distefano, probably my closest all-time friend.  We were all so young during this show- it was 1999 and I was 15 (with my brother being only 13 at the time).  But, it’s a really cute show and there’s a lot of great music.  There’s also some pretty good “early” comedy from my brother Mike, including his all-time famous line: “Updates on Parcels- they just pulled the plug on him…yes, he’s breathing by himself.”  Gets me every time.  And now ten years old, this show is the ultimate trip down memory lane.

The Comedy Christmas Jam: How do I know that the “Everything Is Christmas Show” was a success?  Well, that’s because we had such a great time that we did another show a week later!  I remember it so well- we all went home on my bus route (I was a Sophomore in high school) and we just had the best time.  This show is a little more disorganized, yet more professional because we had a practice round the week before.  This show features both some really classic Christmas songs (like Judy Garland’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”) and comedy songs, too.  I remember laughing so hard at Weird Al’s “Christmas At Ground Zero” that I hit the table and the CD skipped.

The Rock’n’Roll Christmas Show: For some reason, this show always seemed “hesitant” to me.  It’s not as laugh-out-loud as the others, but still a classic.  It’s actually the live on-air debut of another one of my oldest friends, Jeff Copperthite (who called me today- it was great to finally catch up and I’m glad all is going well with his new family!).  This show has some unique rock Christmas music, and some skits, but this was only 2000, so we were still getting the hang of doing these shows.

The Best Original Christmas Song Show: This show is truly a classic (done in 2003)- a Christmas countdown with many people voting on their favorite Christmas songs.  I was the only one who knew the results, so it was exciting for the rest of the cast.  And this one has almost all seven cast members (plus my girlfriend turned-wife, Becky, too!).  This show is hilarious, with some ridiculous Dr. K material (Don’t know who Dr. K is?  Click HERE to find out!) and plenty of skits and promos.

The Christmas Vacation Show: This was our reunion show in 2006, as we hadn’t done a show for three years prior to it!  It was great to get the entire cast together after all that time.  We had a great time and played an even different array of Christmas songs, new and old.  The music is really fantastic on this show, but if comedy is your thing (my personal favorite parts of these shows) then we have you covered here- all of our classic characters made appearances (including Stuffy D. Bear) and there were many promos, as well.

In closing, you should really check-out these radio shows if you’re at work or just hanging out online.  They’re really great ways to make you laugh, get you in the Christmas spirit, and save you from the same loop of overplayed Christmas songs on the radio!  So, how do you listen to it?

Listen to ALL the WCJM Free Internet Radio Christmas Shows Online (for FREE, by the way) by visiting:

WCJM.com (the Moore Hits in the Morning Show section)
and clicking on the arrows to scroll through the shows!

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (Traditional/Brian Wilson acoustic rock cover)

For Brian Wilson chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

If you have found yourself suffering from a “pernicious case of the Mondays” and need something to turn your week around, then look no further than the best cover song music video blog on the Internet today!

This week, as with all weeks, there’s a lot to look forward to.

Tonight, there’s Chris Moore Monday.  Tomorrow, there’s Jim Fusco Tuesday.  On Saturday, there’s chords to one of the most classic Christmas songs of all time.  And, finally, there’s The Weekend Review on Sunday, a very special edition during which I’ll reveal my pick for the #3 best rock album of the decade, 2000-2009.  Thus far, it’s been The Barenaked Ladies’ Maroon at #5 and, as of yesterday, Elliott Smith’s Figure 8 at #4.

But that’s enough about the future.  For now, let’s live in the moment.

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is a traditional song, which basically means that no one knows who wrote the song.  I learned tonight that the song is more accurately referred to as “God rest you merry, gentlemen,” even though it is often incorrectly punctuated as “God rest you, merry gentlemen.”  Of course, as an English teacher, I found this fascinating.  Don’t you?

And, as if that wasn’t enough, Charles Dickens referred to this song in his classic holiday novel, A Christmas Carol.  This is a novel that I loved when I first read it in my Charles Dickens class at CCSU, and I loved it even more when I returned to it a couple years ago.  If I wasn’t so busy this month, I would re-read it for a third time.

Instead, I’m grading, getting car work done, attending real estate meetings, and, of course, decorating for Christmas.  We had a lot of fun pulling out old decorations and buying some new ones to complete the Christmas spirit in the apartment.  Even now, I sit bathed in the multi-colored glow of Christmas lights, and really, there’s no better atmosphere for typing a yuletide post.

I’m very proud of tonight’s session for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I couldn’t find any reliable chords on the web to work from, so I essentially started from scratch.  I used a set of lyrics and chords for the traditional arrangement as a foundation from which to transcribe, but Brian Wilson, true to form, added some twists as well as an instrumental middle section that I figured out on my own.  Being that I’m more of a lyrics guy, I always feel excited when I crack a musical code, no matter how simple or complex it might be.

How long it took me, I won’t mention…  🙂

The other main reason I’m happy with this session is that, for whatever reason, this became one of those songs that I just couldn’t relax for.  For instance, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember which line to sing after the instrumental break.  I kept opting for the blending of the first and third bridges, singing, “To save all those who…”  So, I played more takes than I’m willing to admit here, but in the end, I walked away with a complete session that I’m happy with.  I especially enjoyed being able to play my Bb harmonica, a first for the Laptop Sessions!

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is one of those songs that I’ve known forever.  As I mentioned, it’s a traditional Christmas song that anyone who has gone to church has heard.  I never particularly cared for the song — even the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan version was one I appreciated but never really loved.

Then, I listened to Brian Wilson’s 2004 Christmas album, What I Really Want for Christmas.  I was immediately drawn to Wilson’s arrangement of this song, and it has become an instant favorite for me these past several years.  The album as a whole has become a favorite of mine, right up there with the Beach Boys’ Christmas album and the Moody Blues’ December.  (And, after five years, another top holiday album has been added in Bob Dylan’s Christmas in the Heart.)

If you’ve heard Brian Wilson’s Christmas album — or even if you haven’t — I strongly recommend you go to YouTube and search “Brian Wilson What I Really Want for Christmas Video Part I.”  I just watched this documentary today, which includes some great behind-the-scenes making-of footage, interviews, and clips from the album.  If you love the album, it will remind you why.  If you haven’t heard the album, it will make you want to.

And, on that note, I hope that my video makes you interested enough to want to hear the Brian Wilson version.

See you next session!

“White Christmas” (Irving Berlin Cover)

By Jeff Copperthite:

I want to welcome you to the ultimate Thumpin’ Thursday edition – the Christmas edition!

Today I bring you an acoustic cover of Irving Berlin’s classic song “White Christmas”.  It’s a song we all know and love.  I won’t get mad if you sing along.

I had a great Christmas – I got to spend it with my family all day.  We talked, ate, opened presents, gave each other presents, and had an overall wonderful time.  Sherry & I then came home and exchanged the nights’ worth of Hanukkah gifts.  She loves her new digital photo frame too!

Tomorrow Sherry & I are going on vacation to a resort in NY.  We will be gone until Tuesday.  Because of this, I will have a post “auto-publish” on Sunday.  But if you just can’t wait, look me up on Youtube to see a preview of Sunday’s song.

I hope your Christmas was wonderful, and I hope you have nothing to bring back tomorrow.  Come back tomorrow for Jim to enlighten us with another wonderful acoustic cover.  See you then!

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, Jeff’s acoustic cover song music videos are no longer on YouTube, but we decided to keep his cover song blog posts up.  We figured these music blog entries would be good for posterity’s sake and because Jeff always gave such insightful posts each Session.  We hope to see Jeff’s impressive catalog of acoustic rock songs here on the Laptop Sessions cover songs and original music blog again in the future.  But, for now, please make sure to check-out hundreds of other acoustic cover songs from all of your favorite bands here on the Laptop Sessions music blog!

Ranking every Beach Boys song/album: The Beach Boys Christmas Album (by Songwriter Jim Fusco)

By Jim Fusco:

BEACH BOYS CHRISTMAS ALBUM:

We Three Kings of Orient Are – 9.5
*Little Saint Nick (single) – 10
Little Saint Nick (album) – 9.5
*Our Father – 5
*Auld Lang Syne (alternate) – 5
Santa’s Beard – 7 (LOVE the chord progression and the combination of Mike’s low part and Brian’s high part on “He wants to meet old Santa Claus”)
Christmas Day – 6
I’ll Be Home for Christmas – 7 (I consider this the standard for this song)
The Man with All the Toys – 7.5 (The same reason why I like this song is the reason why it gets docked some points. It has this “dark” sound to it that kinda doesn’t sound very Christmas-song like. However, I like the darker sound because I love those dark Christmastime nights)
Blue Christmas – 6.5
White Christmas – 6
*Little Saint Nick (alternate) – 6.5
Merry Christmas, Baby – 7
Santa Claus is Coming to Town – 5
Frosty the Snowman – 5
Auld Lang Syne – 4 (They couldn’t have done ONE more take to let Dennis have another chance?)

** This is one of my favorite albums. That doesn’t mean it’s the best by any means, but this always makes me SO happy. I have 200 Christmas songs and know how to play most of them. I love Christmas and everything that goes with it. This album contains songs that make me SO happy every time I listen to them, that it automatically brings back memories. I love Elvis’ first Christmas album because of that, too. Something about that innocence and that late ’50s, early ’60s Christmas time vibe… I’ll never live in that kind of world. I’ll never get to experience that, seeing as I grew up in the ’90s (and still growing, in fact, at 23). I hope to give my future children Christmases like that, and that’s why every note on this album is like gold to me. I listen to it about 50 times a year- more than any other album. I know the songs aren’t perfect and the recording sounds a bit rushed, at best. But, they’re voices are at top-notch form here. Classic. **