Three under the tree, Vol. 9

Right on cue, the first winter storm of the season has arrived in our corner of Wisconsin on the first day of December.

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So, for the first our three tunes today, why don’t we just …

“Let it Snow,” Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, from “Christmas with the Miracles,” 1963. It’s out of print, even though it was reissued on CD in 1991. Many of the tunes on this album also are on “Our Very Best Christmas,” a 1999 CD release.

Much as Janet and I were a little dismayed to find we had Christmas albums by Barbra Streisand and Reba McEntire — and could not explain their presence — it was a delightful surprise to rediscover this vintage Christmas album in our collection. It’s the group’s original lineup, complete with Claudette Robinson singing the lead on this tune.

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You know, it’s really starting to look like a …

“Winter Wonderland,” Steve Goodman, from “Artistic Hair,” 1983. This isn’t a Christmas album, but is one of the late folk singer’s best.

This may be my favorite version of this familiar holiday tune. Goodman is playing live and someone requests it. Only one problem. Goodman isn’t entirely sure of the lyrics. Still, he gives it a go, making some of it up as he goes: “It’s kind of absurd/When you don’t know the words/To sing ‘walkin’ in a winter wonderland.'”

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That’s nice, but I’ll have to go out and shovel eventually. I’ll have to put on a hoodie and boots because …

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” Tom Jones with Cerys Matthews, from “Reloaded,” 2003. This album — also not a Christmas album — is a mix of TJ’s greatest hits and some interesting duets with more contemporary artists.

This Frank Loesser tune from 1944 usually is done as a duet, and this is the best version I’ve heard. That it’s anchored by Tom Jones, one of our faves, helps a great deal. It apparently is some kind of unspoken requirement that the female vocal be baby-girl/sexy/breathy. TJ’s fellow Welsh singer, Cerys Matthews, faithfully delivers on that score.

Loesser and his wife sang the song at parties until he sold its rights to MGM in 1948. It won an Oscar for best original song in 1949 when Ricardo Montalbon and Esther Williams (and Red Skelton and Betty Garrett) sang it in the film “Neptune’s Daughter.”

Among the many duos to have performed this tune: Louis Jordan and Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr. and Carmen McRae, Ray Charles and Betty Carter, James Caan and Bette Midler (from the 1991 film “For the Boys”), Brian Setzer and Ann-Margret, Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton, and, in a bit of studio magic, Dean Martin and Martina McBride more than a decade after Dino’s death.

Enjoy. More to come. Don’t forget to leave comments and/or requests if so moved.

2 Comments

Filed under Christmas music, December 2007, Sounds

2 responses to “Three under the tree, Vol. 9

  1. Pingback: Top Posts « WordPress.com

  2. Good to see your post about “Winter Wonderland” performed charmingly by Steve Goodman. He often doesn’t get his due. You might be interested in my new 800-page biography, “Steve Goodman: Facing the Music.” Please know that the book’s first printing just sold out, all 5,000 copies, and the publisher has authorized a second printing that will be out in late February. To sign up to be notified about the availability of the second printing, visit my Internet site (below) and click on the “online store” page. Just trying to spread word about the book. Feel free to do the same!

    Clay Eals
    1728 California Ave. S.W. #301
    Seattle, WA 98116-1958

    (206) 935-7515
    (206) 484-8008
    ceals@comcast.net
    http://www.clayeals.com

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