December 5th – One Little Christmas Tree

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Today I’ll leave you with a sweet Christmas poem by e e cummings which pairs beautifully with this Stevie Wonder tune:

 

 

 

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see          i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don’t be afraid

look          the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i’ll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you’re quite dressed
you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they’ll stare!
oh but you’ll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we’ll dance and sing
“Noel Noel”

e e cummings
The Dial, Vol. LXVIII, No. 1 (Jan. 1920)

December 4th – Skating

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Song: Skating
Album: A Charlie Brown Christmas
Performer: Vince Guaraldi Trio
Writer: Vince Guaraldi
Year: 1965

There are two programs that my family must watch at some point every year leading up to Christmas. Those are Frank Capra’s beautiful film “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Both capture the beauty, wonder, and humanity of the holiday season but Charlie Brown has a much better soundtrack. I’ve always been enamored with the scene where all the children are skating. The music in the background is aptly titled “Skating.” Guaraldi’s piano sounds like a waterfall in this piece that I always imagine is flowing with glittering ice.

December 3rd – Sleigh Ride

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Song: Sleigh Ride
Album: Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas
Performer: Ella Fitzgerald
Writer: Leroy Anderson, Mitchell Parish
Year: 1960

Most everyone has heard the Christmas classic “Sleigh Ride.” The arrangement most commonly played in stores and on the radio is the Leroy Anderson orchestration played by the Boston Pops Orchestra. I have played this arrangement in orchestras multiple times over the years. It’s a mainstay of Christmas playlists, but my personal favorite rendition of the song is sung by the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald along with Russ Garcia and his orchestra offer up a laid back performance of the song that more than lives up to Ella’s gracious offer of a swinging Christmas.

December 2nd – Silver Bells

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Song: Silver Bells
Album: White Christmas
Performer: Bing Crosby, Carol Richards
Writer: Ray Evans, Jay Livingston
Year: 1950

Bing Crosby is another Christmas king. You’ll know him from the classic film “White Christmas.” The song silver bells is one of my favorite Christmas tunes and was first recorded in 1950 by Crosby as a duet with Carol Richards. It’s a bit of a fluke that this ended up being one of my favorites. I remember singing it in 6th grade choir and I just fell in love.

December 1st – Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)

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Song: Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)
Album: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Performer: Gene Autry
Writer: Gene Autry (lyricist), Oakley Haldeman (composer)
Year: 1947

Could there be a better voice to open the Christmas season than Gene Autry? This crooning cowboy was responsible for a few of the most popular Christmas songs ever written. His 1947 album is a piece of history; featuring the debut of his Christmas songs that are full of his Western charm and lush string arrangements.