“A Charlie Brown Christmas” has become such a Christmas institution over the last 40 years that we’re not going to bother posting any of the tunes. You know those tunes.
You know Vince Guaraldi’s piano on those tunes. (Don’t forget, either, that you also heard Monty Budwig on bass and Colin Bailey on drums.)
Rather, tonight’s three under the tree are proof of the lasting power of the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s legendary soundtrack and of the classic Christmas cartoon. Three interpretations, covers, mashups, what have you.
While the settings may be new, the music and voices of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” are the foundation.
It’s proof that no matter how old you are, no matter how long ago you first heard these tunes, no matter how far life takes you from that more innocent time, you can go back to that place again.
Although these tunes take, admittedly, the road less traveled.
“Linus and Lucy (Hark, the Holler remix),” Pocketknife, 2006.
Anyone for some fresh beats with Guaraldi’s piano? This remix is from Pocketknife, who, according to his MySpace page, has gone from Iowa to Detroit to Brooklyn, where he creates “hip-hop, melodramatic popular songs and house” music.
Though this sounds new, it doesn’t stray far from the original.
“Christmas Time is Here,” Steve Vai, from “Merry Axemas — A Guitar Christmas,” 1997. It’s out of print.
Vai, most commonly known for his work with Frank Zappa, does a lovely, elegant job on this instrumental. On his web site, Vai tells how he came to organize and produce the “Merry Axemas” project, which featured instrumentals by other top rock guitarists.
I had the desire to make an instrumental guitar Christmas record performing traditional Christmas songs with a twist. It would have taken many months to complete a project like this myself so I thought it would be nicer to use various artists, musicians who have brought a unique voice to the guitar.
I took the concept to Epic Records an they were thrilled with it. I got together with John Kalodner and between him, myself and Ruta Sepetys (my manager) we put it together.
It was difficult at first to pick the players to call. There are so many great ones. Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Johnson, Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, Brian Setzer, Steve Morse, Steve Vai, Joe Perry, Richie Sambora, Alex Lifeson and Hotei are the players that delivered stellar Yuletide guitar on a silver platter.
Vai also produced “Merry Axemas 2” in 1998, but didn’t play on it. It also is out of print.
That album featured Steve Lukather, Neal Schon, Steve Stevens, Stu Hamm, Trevor Rabin, Zakk Wylde, John Sykes, Robin Trower, Al DiMeola and Ted Nugent. Guess we’ll have to get to that one next year.
“You Shook Me All Noel,” dj BC, from “Santastic III in 3-D,” 2007.
You’ll recognize the kids’ voices from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” set against AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” and then some. Really. I better let the DJ explain.
Sarah McLachlan sings her Christmas single “Noel” with AC/DC’s “You Shook Me” and tiny bits of “Baby, Where Did Our Love Go” by The Supremes, to imagine the newborn king rocking the manger righteously with Angus Young and a little help from Diana Ross et al. Round out the picture with one description of the manger scene from the classic Linus reading, and another from an inner city school in Dublin, 1963, by way of “Give Up Yer Aul Sins.”
This piece is another of the 20 cuts on “Santastic III in 3-D,” the third in a series of holiday-themed mashups from a variety of DJs and mashup artists, all compiled by dj BC, also known as Bob Cronin, from Boston.
The others: “Santastic II: Clausome” (which features “Imagine Santa,” on which dj BC mashes John Lennon’s “Imagine” and the Jackson 5’s “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” another of my faves) and “Santastic! Holiday Boots for Your Stockings.” To decide which cuts are for you, follow the links and read their descriptions.
Enjoy. More to come, but …
Just three days until Christmas …
and just one more day for “Three under the tree”
We’re going to wrap up this series on Sunday. When it ends, I’ll post a list of all the songs and provide links to the posts in which they appeared. The tunes will be available through the end of the year, if you’re just too busy to go get them now.