Winter Songs

By | Dec 17, 2014

I have a huge collection of Christmas Music and while listening I realized that not all of our beloved Christmas Songs are actually related to Christmas. Although they are related to the Winter Season.

And it seems as if many artists have recorded them so if you want to extend the Christmas Music season, listen to this set list of songs through the Winter.

Jingle Bells (Actually written for Thanksgiving)
Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow
Winter Wonderland
Sleigh Ride
Baby It’s Cold Outside
A Marshmallow World
Little Jack Frost Get Lost
Skating (From Charlie Brown Christmas)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (AKA Charlie Brown Theme)
Greensleeves
Snow (From the movie White Christmas)
Wizard in Winter (One many of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra songs)
I Got My Love to Keep me Warm
Winter Weather
It won’t Cool Off

– And
Frosty the Snowman

– A few that that are often added to Christmas releases
Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)
The River (Joni Mitchell)
My Favorites Things (From the Sound of Music
Do You Want to Build a Snowman
2000 Miles

Stories about Our Christmas Songs

By | Dec 15, 2014

When should Christmas music be started to played for the Holidays? One thought is after Halloween, another is as soon as the weather starts turning colder (living in Maryland this would be around Mid-October) but for most that time starts just after Thanksgiving.

We all know and love the following songs, but did you know that they also have interesting stories. Here are brief stories about six of our Christmas favorites. Oh, and for me I start playing them anytime after the first of October, sometimes even earlier.

White Christmas
Everyone knows that the song was introduced in the movie Holiday Inn, but many don’t know that it was a song about being stuck in sunny and warm LA and dreaming of a White Christmas. The original first verse is:

The sun is shining
The grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway.
I’ve never seen such a day
In Beverly Hills LA.
But it’s December the 24th
And I am longing to be up North…

This part is rarely performed with the song (The Carpenters version does) and was never recorded by Bing Crosby.

Have Yourself A Very Merry Christmas
This Judy Garland song was written for and first introduced in the movie Meet me In St. Louis. The original intent for the song was to say that by next year things would be brighter. The original lines were;

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
May your heart be light
In a year our troubles will be out of sight
From now on

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
In a year our troubles will be miles away

At the request of Judy Garland it was changed to:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
Let your heart be light,
From now on our troubles
Will be out of sight.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on our troubles
Will be miles away.

Then in 1957 when Frank Sinatra was recording his Christmas Album A Jolly Christmas he requested another change to the lyrics. Later in the song there was the line;

If the Fates allow
Until then, we’ll just have to muddle through somehow
And have ourselves a merry little Christmas now.

Sinatra wanted a more jolly song and asked for this to be changed. It was to:

If the Fates allow,
Hang a shining star
On the highest bough,
And have yourself
A merry little Christmas now.

This sure makes for it to be a merrier, Merry Christmas song.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas
The song was written in 1943 and recorded in that same year by Bing Crosby. Placing it in that time period it’s obvious that the song was about a soldier at war and his Christmas wish. If it wasn’t for White Christmas this would probably be considered His Christmas song. (Although his version of Silent Night sold more copies) The song remained on the charts for 7 weeks and well pass Christmas.

Silver Bells
The song was written by the prolific movie composers Jay Livingston and Ray Evans for the movie The Lemon Drop Kid, staring Bob Hope. It was originally going to be Tinkle Bells, until Livingston’s wife told him that to millions of american women the word tinkle meant something else and not something that would generally go over good in a Christmas song. The word tinkle was replaced with silver. Now the next time you hear the song replace the word ‘silver’ with ‘tinkle’ and see if it doesn’t have a slightly different song.

Frosty the Snowman
Frosty the Snowman was written with one thought in mind. Just before it was written Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer had be a huge commercial hit and the team of Jack Nelson and Steve Rollins wanted to write the next ‘Christmas Classic’. By the end of the winter they had put together two holiday songs to pitch to Gene Autry. Autry was sold and recorded Frosty for the next Christmas season.

And, the other Holiday song they pitched. It wasn’t a Christmas song, but the Easter song Here Comes Peter Cotton-tail.

A Christmas Song
In the hot heat in the summer of 1945, Mel Torme visited his friend Bob Wells. Earlier in the day Wells had written phases in a notebook in an effort to stay warm. A couple of these were; “Chestnuts roasting … Jack Frost nipping … Yuletide carols … Folks dressed up like Eskimos.”

Torme also in an effort to try to cool off, thought that maybe writing a winter song would help. They took these phrases and in 40 minutes much of the music and some of the lyrics of one of the most recorded Christmas song was completed.

Eight Years Ago

By | Dec 10, 2014

I slightly missed the anniversary. Eight years ago on November 26, 2006 the first “6 Things Consider” was posted. It was just a simple post called “When Starting a Web Log (Blog)”

Even though there hasn’t been that many new posts in the past couple of years, I do periodicity come back to this blog and post. This was my first and in a way still a favorite.

I know I have made this statement before but, looking forward to 2015 I will attempt to add more new posts. My goal will be at least one new one, along with updating an old one, at least once a week.

Looking at my stats it would appear that I use to have a fairly regular readership. Numbers have faded. I’m sure that’s because the postings have been irregular at best. I’m hoping that some of those who use to be regular readers come back, and that a new fan base is created.

I have also expanded my photography and I’m thinking that I’ll also add a photograph a week. Does a photograph equal 6 paragraphs? I would think it would.

In advance I will Thank You for reading.

Photo: Sandy's Aftermath by SG Atkinson, SGAtkinson.com

Christmas Music Releases – 2014

By | Dec 9, 2014

Each year one of the things I look forward to during the Holiday Season is the new releases of Christmas Music.

Idina Menzel – Holiday Wishes
Even though it may not be really considered a Christmas Song, Idina Menzel had one of the most popular songs from 2013 with “Let it Go” from the movie Frozen. This song is not part of her new Holiday Album. There are plenty of Christmas classics along with her version of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and a new one “”December Prayer,” co-written by her.

Pentatonix – That’s Christmas To Me
They have turned Christmas songs into a capella masterpieces.

Darius Rucker – Home For The Holidays
County singer and former lead of Hootie and the Blowfish releases his first Christmas Album. Another collection of Christmas standards including the ever popular “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Sheryl Crow.

Michael W. Smith & Friends: The Spirit Of Christmas
MICHAEL W. SMITH & FRIENDS: THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS, features an all-star lineup of guests including Vince Gill, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Amy Grant, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Nettles, Bono and Michael McDonald with an album full of timeless carols, holiday favorites and new versions of Christmas songs.

Seth MacFarlane – Holiday For Swing
Even Academy Award-nominated and Grammy® – nominated writer, singer, actor, producer and director, Seth MacFarlane has gotten into the act with this release.

LeAnn Rimes – One Christmas:Chapter One
This is the first of a series of mini-albums of new Christmas Music from LeAnn Rimes. It does include a new version of the 60’s Motown “Someday at Christmas”.

Did You Know – Christmas

By | Dec 7, 2014

In 336 AD. Pope Julius I declared the birth and celebration of Jesus’ birthday as Christmas. He chose the day December 25th because it coincided with the pagan traditions of Winter Solstice. The idea was to bring pagans into the christian religion and selecting that day helped in this cause.

No one knows the exact day not year of Jesus’ birth. With Bible references it is thought that he was born around 4 BC in the spring. Shepherds bring their sheep in during the winter and not tend to them as related in the Bible.

Christmas was not celebrated in the early days of the American Colonies. In some places the practice of celebrating Christmas was actually banned. It wasn’t until the Victorian times that it restored with a lot of assistance from Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, Clement Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and the Santa drawings of Thomas Nast.

Santa Claus is a fairly modern invention although he has basis in history. There was a St. Nicholas, a third century saint. But it’s the Dutch Sinterklaas that is the biggest basis. The Sinterklaas feast celebrates the birthday of Saint Nicholas. In 1809 Washington Irving’s Knickerbocker’s History of New York features Sinterklaas.

Bing Crosby has not one but three of the biggest Christmas recording. Everyone knows that his White Christmas was a big hit, but so was his recording of Silent Night in 1935 and I’ll Be Home for Christmas first recorded in 1943 were also big hits. Crosby donated all of his royalties from Silent Night to charity.

The city of North Pole, Alaska with a population of 1750 and located 14 miles southeast of Fairbanks was incorporated on January 15, 1953. The name was selected in an effort to attract business. Many streets bear holiday names: Santa Claus Lane, Snowman Lane, Kris Kringle, Mistletoe, Holiday Rd., Saint Nicholas Drive, North Star Drive, Blitzen, and Donnor. northpolealaska.com

Beginning the Mason/Dixon Line

By | Nov 15, 2014

For many when you mention the Mason/Dixon line they think of it as the division between the North and the South and the Civil War. The Mason/Dixon line was nearly 100 years old when the Civil War began and was created due to the dispute between the English Colonies of Maryland and Pennsylvania.

From the time that Maryland received its charter from King Charles I on June 20, 1632, the borders were in dispute. First with the Virginia Colony and then again when William Penn was granted the Charter for Pennsylvania on February 28, 1681 by Charles II. At that time the Northern border and Southern Border of Maryland and Pennsylvania was the 40th Parallel. Penn wanted the area which became Philadelphia, which fell below the 40th parallel as part of his colony. An agreement between the two colonies was made but when Charles II gave the land area that is now Delaware to Pennsylvania it created another dispute.

It took until 1760 before the wording of the borders of the land belonging to the families of Penn’s (Pennsylvania) and the Calvert’s (Maryland) was settled and they commissioned the English team of Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon to survey the established boundaries.

It was on November 15, 1763 that Mason and Dixon arrived in Philadelphia to begin the task of physically marking the boundary. Nearly four years later October 9, 1767 the surveying was done.

The actual survey was marked by stones every mile (milestones) and “crownstones” every five miles. The Maryland side says (M) and Pennsylvania sides say (P). Crownstones include the two coats-of-arms. Even today nearly 250 years after their placement many of these stones are still visible. The ones on public lands are protected by iron cages.

So not only is the Mason/Dixon line the North/South border line between Pennsylvania and Maryland, it is also the East/West border line between Delaware and Maryland. At the time it was surveyed Delaware was known as the Lower Counties of Pennsylvania. It wasn’t until 1776, on June 15th, that Delaware voted to become independent from Great Britain and sever ties with the Colony of Pennsylvania.

Armistice Day is also Veterans Day

By | Nov 11, 2014

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, World War I ended with the signing of the Armistice. November 11th since that day has been referred to as Armistice Day.

President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 was the first President to proclaim this day.

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

In 1954 Congress declared that November 11 would be a day to honor Veterans of all wars and not just WWI. They did this by using the official designation of Veterans Day and not Armistice Day.

In 1968 as part of the Uniforms Holiday Bill, Veteran Day was made one of the holidays that was moved to a Monday, for people to have a 3 day weekend. However after protests by veterans groups the holiday in 1978 reverted back to November 11th.

Veterans Day is largely intended to thank veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to United States national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.

The Crooner and Gaga

By | Oct 20, 2014

The unlikely team of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga came together and release an album of ‘standards’ on September 19, 2014. The Album “Cheek to Cheek” debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard Album Charts. It was the 2nd Number 1 album for the 88 year old Bennett and the 3rd for Lady Gaga.

Bennett broke the record for the oldest person to have a Number 1 Album, breaking his own record that he set in 2011 with “Duets II”. That album also included a Duet with Lady Gaga.

When looking and the glam and glitter of Lady Gaga, along with her unique and to some outrageous shows, one would wonder how she would sound working with Tony Bennett on an album of “standard” all of which were written long before she was born. What I found was amazing.

Lady Gaga has an amazing voice and the songs on this album fits it wonderfully. In fact often I found myself enjoying her voice on the songs more than Bennett. Not saying he was not in good form. His voice still sounds wonderful.

I would love to see Lady Gaga to do her own album of ‘standards’. It’s not as if popular artists haven’t done it. Just look a Rod Stewart and his American Songbook series of albums. It would perhaps make her a bigger star than she already has become. At least it would bring a different audience to her. Then again this album will as well.

So in closing all I can say is if you enjoy old standards, this is an album for you. But regardless, take a listen to it. It’s good music and good music should be listened to and enjoyed.

Chex Mix for Breakfast

By | Oct 2, 2014

Here I am, a 56 year old guy, sitting with a cup of coffee and eating a breakfast of Chex Mix. Does that seem strange? Why not Chex Mix for breakfast?

Even though many would consider it a snack, most of the contents of the package could be considered a cereal. Cereal is a common breakfast item. And I’m sure it’s healthier than what I really want.

That would be a sandwich made of scrapple, egg and cheese on wheat toast. The only really healthy item there would be the wheat toast.

What’s Scrapple? The dictionary defines it as “cornmeal mush made with the meat and broth of pork, seasoned with onions, spices and herbs and shaped into loaves for slicing and frying.” It’s a rural American food of the Mid-Atlantic states (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia). It originated in the Eastern Pennsylvania farmland by the Pennsylvania Dutch, German immigrants of the area.

But let’s be serious. It’s made of what’s left over after the standard cuts of meat are butchered off of the pig. All of these items are cooked together then all but the broth and meat are discarded. This is mixed with cornmeal and formed as a loaf. A 1/4 inch slice off of the loaf is fried.

I imagine now that you’ve read about scrapple, you are thinking that Chex Mix does make for a nice breakfast. That is until you have tried a sandwich of Scrapple, Egg and Cheese on Wheat Toast.

40 Years of King

By | Sep 29, 2014

In a few weeks (November 11, 2014) Stephen King will release his latest novel Revival. Along with his recent release, Mr Mercedes, it will be 40 years since his first publish book was released. Carrie came out on April 5, 1974.

Nearly everyone has heard the story about how that novel was nearly not completed, since King had thrown away his original 16 pages or so and that it was retrieved by his wife who liked it suggested that he continue.

I have been a fan of Stephen King since the summer of 1976 when I picked up a copy of ‘salem’s Lot. I knew nothing of King, this was his third work and movie adaptation of Carrie was still in production. It was released in November of 1976. I wasn’t even much of a horror fan, but the cover intrigued me. It was plain black cover, embossed with a figure and one drop of red blood.

From there I read The Shinning and Carrie, in the reverse order that they were written. They were enjoyable. It was the collection of stories, many that were first published in ’70s Men’s Magazines, Night Shift that really hooked me. The Stand was the first of his works that I purchased in hard cover. Even with 40 years of writing, I still consider this to be my favorite Stephen King. I still pick up all of his works within the first few days of their release.

I’m not one to think that everything that he wrote was good. There were a few he wrote in the late ’80’s and ’90’s that I couldn’t finish. Maybe one day I’ll go back and try again. I am also not a fan of the Dark Tower series. I still haven’t read the final few chapters.

But sometimes I do go back to some of the older stuff. I just recently watched “Maximum Overdrive” a movie that he not only wrote based on the short story “Trucks” from Night Shift, but also directed. At the time I thought it to be a terrible movie. So did a lot of people, since it was a big bomb. But watching it last week, I found that it wasn’t really all that bad.

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