Tag Archives: 2008

Three under the tree, Vol. 45

Long ago, during the first three years of this blog’s existence — I may have been writing it on stone tablets — there was a long series of Christmas music posts when each December rolled around.

There was so much Christmas music in my collection that I posted it here three songs at a time. “Three under the tree” was the name of that 44-part series, which started in 2007 and ended in 2009.

Thirteen years on from the last installment, here’s another.

New to me this year

One of my regular Saturday afternoon stops is “Chris Carter’s British Invasion” on the Underground Garage channel on Sirius XM.

Heard this a couple of weeks ago. Couldn’t believe I’d never heard this Beatles cut. Turns out it’s the not the Beatles. It’s the Fab Four, a Beatles tribute band out of California. Enjoyed it nonetheless.

“Blue Christmas,” from “Hark! (Classic Christmas Songs Performed in a Beatles Style),” 2008. Apparently released only on CD.

On a related note: My friend Joe hosted a program featuring Beatles Christmas music last Sunday morning on 103.3 Asheville FM. Joe (a retired librarian who is Joey Books on air) and his co-host played “From Then To You,” the 1970 comp of Beatles Christmas messages, along with cuts from the new expanded reissue of “Revolver.” To listen, search the station’s archives for “The Sandbox Hour,” which aired from 8 to 9 a.m. on Dec. 18, 2022.

New to me last year

Did you know Art Carney invented rap in 1954? Neither did I, but listen to the evidence. Heard this on another of the Sirius XM music channels last year.

“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” Art Carney, Columbia 7-inch, 1954. It’s the B side of the single, “Santa and the Doodle-Li-Bop.”

Perhaps new to me, but I think I knew it existed

Came across this today. The Big Lead sports/pop culture blog offered a feature titled “Here Are The Two Worst Christmas Songs You Probably Don’t Know Exist.”

Randy Bachman reworked BTO’s “Takin’ Care of Business” as “Takin’ Care of Christmas.” It’s not that bad. I enjoyed this, too.

“Takin’ Care of Christmas,” Randy Bachman with singer Beverley Mahood, a fellow Canadian. This was the last cut on “Song Book,” a 1998 comp, and the title cut on Bachman’s Christmas album of the same name, released in 2008.

Can’t say I enjoyed the other song, though. Kylie Minogue and Iggy Pop cover “Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses. Proceed at your own risk.


Filed under Christmas music, December 2022, Sounds

Sundays at 8: Goodbye, Glen

My memories of Glen Campbell, who died yesterday at 81, come almost entirely from television. I think back to the earliest ’70s, and I see our family sitting together around the TV.

There was something for everyone on “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.” Comedy skits for Dad, country music for Grandma, folk and rock groups for me. That, in the fall of 1970, was our life. I pinpoint 1970 because that’s where the facts confirm the memory.

In the 1970-71 TV season, Glen Campbell’s show followed “The Ed Sullivan Show” on CBS on Sunday nights. That was appointment television. My grandfather died as that TV season began, so I’m certain we spent a few Sunday nights watching TV with Grandma, most likely during the holidays, when Sunday wasn’t a school night for a 13-year-old.

Here’s about 18 minutes that may give some idea of what that was like. His guests, ever so briefly, include the Smothers Brothers, John Hartford, Nancy Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Tom Jones, and Sonny and Cher.

However, television eventually gave way to the radio for me. Glen Campbell faded from my radio until the mid-’70s. His new songs? Too much corn.

Along the way, Glen Campbell became a train wreck. He’s almost unwatchable in a “Tonight Show” clip with Don Rickles and Dom DeLuise from September 1973. He’s jacked up on something, and even Johnny Carson acknowledges it. Then along came Tanya Tucker, and more drugs and alcohol, and Glen Campbell became tabloid fodder. Didn’t really think much about him for a long time.

Fast forward to the last decade. Fellow music bloggers have pointed the way to gems from Glen Campbell’s long career, helping me rediscover his greatness.

Then, in June 2011, came his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Our family knows all too well what that means. You lose a loved one long before they go. We bought tickets for “The Glen Campbell Goodbye Tour” stop in Wausau, Wisconsin, in December 2011, but the show we’d hoped to see was postponed. He had laryngitis, it was said. We couldn’t make the rescheduled date.

Shortly thereafter, we had a second chance. The Goodbye Tour came back around, this time in Green Bay in June 2012. We passed. No regrets. We chose to remember a vibrant Glen Campbell instead of a 76-year-old man who was a year into an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

You’ve heard all the hits again this week. So please enjoy these tunes, proof again of Glen Campbell’s gift for interpreting other people’s songs.

“Grow Old With Me,” Glen Campbell, from “Meet Glen Campbell,” 2008. A cover of one of John Lennon’s last songs. (Also available digitally.)

“Times Like These,” Glen Campbell, also from “Meet Glen Campbell,” 2008. The Foo Fighters never sounded so elegant.

“Wichita Lineman/By The Time I Get To Phoenix” the Dells, from “Love Is Blue,” 1969. The great Chicago soul group acknowledges Glen Campbell’s greatness at his peak. Only Glen Campbell can make the Dells sound rough by comparison.


Filed under August 2017, Sounds

A smaller Christmas, Day 16

Went back to work today, and was whipsawed between two big stories.

For most of the day, it was the Packers and the Bears, an NFL grudge match that goes back decades. Yet that football game — only a game, but so important to so many, so deeply etched in our culture — faded to insignificance when it came time for the story out of Newtown, Connecticut.

It was like going through a portal, stepping from the roar of the stadium into the silence of church, especially during the evening vigil at which the president spoke.

Trying to reconcile all that, I thought back to what a friend wrote Friday, as everyone tried to process the news out of Connecticut.

“Peace, love and art is the beacon.”

So here is a song about peace and love at Christmas.

A beacon cutting through the darkness.


“Glorious,” Melissa Etheridge, from “A New Thought For Christmas,” 2008. Also available digitally.

You hear echoes of the “Gloria” chorus of “Angels We Have Heard On High.”

“Love, love, love, it’s glorious.”

“Believe in heavenly, in heavenly peace.”

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2012, Sounds

The missing Christmas hits

[REVISED ever so slightly on Dec. 17, 2022]

Fascinating to read in the Milwaukee paper the other day that no Christmas song has been a hit since Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” in 1994.

My pal JB over at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ also took note of that story, which prompted him to ponder the state of Christmas radio then and now.

All that said, there certainly are some Christmas songs that should have hit the charts in the last 17 years. Here are some of them.

“Who Needs Mistletoe,” Julie Roberts, from “Who Needs Mistletoe,” 2011. A country song every bit as filthy as Clarence Carter’s great “Back Door Santa.”

“Oi To The World,” Severe, from the wonderful Punk Rock Advent Calendar, 2009 (gone by 2022). Well, it’s reverent as far as UK punks go.

(Reader “bean” left a comment that The Vandals’ original from 1996 was far superior. As always, you be the judge.)

“We Three Kings,” Blondie, a 2009 holiday release. Always fun to find Debbie Harry under the tree. Always fun to hear Blondie’s classic sound.

“Merry Christmas Baby,” Melissa Etheridge, from “A New Thought For Christmas,” 2008. Blistering vocals and blistering blues guitar. Move over, fellas.

“Silent Night,” the Blackhearts and special guests, from “A Blackheart Christmas,” 2008. Some sound bites from that year’s presidential race make it a bit of a time capsule. It once had a bit of a valedictory feel. Now it has the feel of opportunities lost.

“Silent Night,” Bootsy Collins, from “Christmas Is 4 Ever,” 2006. A sweet mashup of reverent narration, funk, R&B and gospel.

“Winter (Basse Dance),” Blackmore’s Night, from “Winter Carols,” 2006. If you can get past that Ritchie Blackmore no longer rocks out as he did in Deep Purple and Rainbow and not cede all the elegant guitar work to Trans-Siberian Orchestra, you might dig this instrumental.

“Wonderful Dream (Holidays Are Coming),” Melanie Thornton, from “Memories,” a 2003 import comp. This song was used in a Coca-Cola ad after the R&B singer’s death in 2001, but its back story transcends marketing.

“It’s Christmas And I Miss You,” .38 Special, from “A Wild-Eyed Christmas Night,” 2001. A gentle ballad reflecting the loneliness the season can bring. It’s co-written by guitarist Don Barnes and our friend Jim Peterik.

“Little Drummer Boy,” the Dandy Warhols, from “Fruitcake,” 1997, a Capitol Records promo EP that 25 years later is nowhere to be found on the internet. In which the Little Drummer Boy takes a psychedelic trip.

“Santa Claus Is Comin’ (In A Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train),” the Tractors, from “Have Yourself A Tractors Christmas,” 1995. This fine bit of country swing was a modest hit on country radio in in 1995 and again in 1998. After all, it’s just their 1994 hit “Baby Likes To Rock It” retooled with new lyrics for Christmas.

“Soul Christmas,” Graham Parker and Nona Hendryx, from “Christmas Cracker,” 1994. If there were any justice, this scorcher would have been the hit that year.


Filed under December 2011, Sounds

Slouching toward Cabo

There are is lot of vinyl in the crates and on the shelves behind me. There are not, however, any Sammy Hagar records.

OK, there is the Montrose record we listened to in Jerry’s basement all those years ago. And I do have a review copy of his last solo CD, released three years ago. But otherwise no solo Sammy Hagar, no Van Hagar, no Chickenfoot.

Even so, Sammy Hagar is one of my favorite live acts. I dig the energy and irreverence he brings to his shows, which are parties in themselves. It’s a bit like a Jimmy Buffett show cranked up … and more irreverent.

This week, those of us who dig the so-called Red Rocker had a little treat. Hagar’s birthday was Oct. 13. He’s 64 and seemingly has the energy of a 24-year-old.

He treated the faithful to live streaming video of four birthday shows from his Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. There weren’t many of us watching on the nights I caught them, maybe 1,200 the first night and maybe 1,000 the third night, but it was something to see and hear.

They used one camera, pointed directly at the stage. They let it rip — visually unpolished and unedited — as Hagar, bass player Michael Anthony and a host of celebrity guests gleefully tore through tunes from all the groups Hagar has been in, plus Led Zeppelin and the Beastie Boys among the covers.

Think about that. Here’s one of your faves having a party with his friends, jamming in a little club, and you’re invited. Watch the streaming video and chat with other fans online if so inclined. Nice.

I’ll probably never make it to Cabo for one of those birthday bashes. I’m neither young enough nor cool enough for the room, nor could I drink enough for the room. So having Sammy’s party streamed all the way to Wisconsin was a nice way to enjoy it vicariously.

So why don’t more acts do this? I’m guessing Reason No. 1 is they don’t want to give away the product.

Somehow, I doubt Mr. Hagar was in any way shortchanged by streaming four shows in real time. That club looked plenty full every night. Nor do I think streaming those shows will cut into his record or merchandise sales in any way. Hagar may be on to something, not that anyone will follow his lead.

This is a little bit of what it was like.

“Dreams/Cabo,” Sammy Hagar, from “Cosmic Universal Fashion,” 2008. It’s a live cut from the 2007 birthday bash in Cabo.

Here’s what he says about this cut on the liner notes:

“We record shows all the time, but the audience in Cabo at the Cantina during the Birthday Bash is a very special crowd. This was ‘07 so if you were there then that’s you singing on Dreams and Cabo. If you go there once you’ll be there twice …”

The latter holds true for his live shows. Trust me.

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Filed under October 2011, Sounds