The Friday Five: December 20, 2013

Friday Five : |ˈfrīdā – fīv| : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button in iTunes and share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up the media player of your choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

‘Twas the Friday before Christmas, when all through Popdose
Not a writer was stirring, not even to boast
There were stockings hung by the chimney with care,
A sign that Lifton’s mom surely had been there;
Jeff and Jason were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of bacon-covered meatloaf danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in mine,
Had just settled our brains for a shuffle through the Friday Five

That’s right, my faithful Friday Fivers, it is time for the annual shuffle through the holiday wing of my library. Grab yourself a ladle of Christmas Glogg, a slice of fruitcayyyyke, and settle in for what is sure to be a good time.

“Merry Christmas, Baby” by Lou Rawls (from Ultra-Lounge: Christmas Cocktails, Part 2, 1997)

Aside from the original, I’m a big fan of Bonnie Raitt’s take on this tune. Mr. Rawls does a fine job of bringing a bit of swank to this modern classic, with a deft mix of big band swing and some tasty guitar work.

“Babies and Their Kings” by Amy Petty (from Sycamore Tree, 2011)

If you aren’t familiar with Amy Petty’s work, this is not a bad way to get introduced. Her Christmas record is quiet and contemplative, yet joyous and full of the holiday spirit. I implore you: if you listen to but one of the tunes in this week’s Friday Five, make it this one.

“All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth) (MJ Cole remix)” by The Nat King Cole Trio (from Merry Mixmas: Christmas Classics Remixed, 2005)

Putting a new spin on the old guard is nothing new; doing it with the utter restraint displayed in this modern remix definitely is. There are a few tracks on this compilation that get it all wrong, but this one gets it right by layering in subtle acid jazz touches to the original.

“White Christmas” by Matt Wertz (from Snow Globe, 2011)

I have no clue who Matt Wertz is other than the fact that he released a lovely Christmas record a few years ago. He voice is a bit of a throwback, without sounding contrived (yeah, I’m looking at you Michael Bublé.)

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Bing Crosby (from The Time-Life Treasury of Christmas, Volume 2 (disc 2), 1987)

Well, nothing like ending on a high note. This collection calls to mind the Christmas celebrations of my childhood, as my Nana would often play the classic tunes while the family gathered for a holiday meal. It sometimes seems like another world in retrospect, but isn’t that part of what the holidays are about–looking back on those special moments from long, long ago, and all that. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy Holiday season.

What’s on your shuffle today?

  • Rock_dawg

    Great poem, Michael!
    I can’t bring myself to go all Christmas music on any other days but the 24th & 25th, so the work iPod is still doing it’s regular thing, but thanks to iCloud, we can turn to the all seasonal playlist…

    “Fairy Tale of New York” – The Pogues ft. Kristy MacColl, If I Should Fall From Grace With God
    Blasphemy, I know, but I’m not really a big fan of this one.
    “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” – Vaughan Monroe, Die Hard
    It’s A Wonderful Life, White Christmas, A Christmas Story and Christmas Vacation are great and all, but Die Hard is the GREATEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE EVER!
    “Christmas Time Is Here” – Diana Krall, Christmas Songs
    I probably have a dozen covers of this song and while the original is always my preferred version, this one and the Steve Vai version will do as quality substitutes.
    “Jingle Bells” – Sammy Davis Jr., Christmas with the Rat Pack
    I like my holiday cheer swingin’!
    “Let It Snow” – Kylie Minogue, A Kylie Christmas EP
    My biggest problem with Christmas music is that there’s not enough songs to justify all the releases. Case in point, a repeat three songs later! Screw it, I’m going for six…
    “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” – Jackson 5, Ultimate Christmas Collection
    Phew, I was worried we’d get another version of “Jingle Bells”.

    Happy holidays, Fivers!

  • Michael Parr

    You Blasphemer! You Charlatan! How dare you speak ill of the greatest non-traditional holiday song of all time?!

    That said, I quite love Vai’s take on “Christmas Time is Here.” It’s one of the rare occasions where he shows a bit of restraint.

  • Rock_dawg

    To be fair, I didn’t besmirch it, I just expressed my lack of enthusiasm for it. Everyone can love it and vote it their favourite Xmas song all they want; I’ll just be over here shrugging and listening to A Charlie Brown Christmas. :)

  • Michael Parr

    If you take a peek at my profile you will note that I’ll be right there with you. At this time of the year it looks like all I listen to is Vince Guaraldi Trio and Dean Martin.

  • Dennis Corrigan

    What better way to kick off my extended Christmas vacation (AKA dry dock), than a holiday Five

    1. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by Jimmy McGriff from Ultra-Lounge: Christmas Cocktails, Part 2. Get me my cocktail shaker – STAT!

    2. “A Holly Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives from The Very Best of Burl Ives Christmas. I’m a sucker for the “classic” ones, too. Stuff like this, Andy Williams, Sinatra, etc.

    3. “The Christmas Song” by Sammy Davis, Jr. from Christmas With The Rat Pack. And Sammy, and Dino. Although, surprisingly I don’t think I’ve heard the Nat King Cole gold standard of this song yet this year.

    4. “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms from Jingle Bell Rock. Speaking of gold standard versions

    5. “Deck the Stills” by Barenaked Ladies from Barenaked for the Holidays. Always makes me chuckle

    Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and that Santa slips some great records into your stockings

  • gthradecky

    I can’t do the holiday music – Never could, sorry

    1. “Sunny Boy” Owsley – Always smacks of Andy Partridge to me, in a good way

    2. “Two Divided By Love” Grass Roots – Cheese and what’s wrong with that? I always liked Grass Roots chord changes, standard and somehow different. Also I always liked their arrangements.

    3. “I Wish” Skee-lo – Hip-Pop, sounds like spring to me

    4. “Bad Blood” Neil Sedaka – Love the clav – The twin vocal w/Elton John makes the song though

    5. “HIT” Sugarcubes – The only Sugarcubes song I can stomach – But boy do I love it

  • MB

    Jack Bruce – Kelly’s Blues (More Jack Than God, 2003)
    Poco – Krikkit’s Song (Passing Through) (Seven, 1974)

    Howard Tate -Either Side Of The Same Town (Rediscovered , 2003)
    Maon Proffit – Eugene Pratt (Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream, 1971)
    J, Geils Band – Teresa (Sanctuary, 1978)

  • EightE1

    Ho ho ho, y’all. A beery Friday night. You’ve been warned.

    John Denver, “Annie’s Song.” The bravest words any man has ever sung: “You fill up my senses like a night in the forest.” Because my God, you say that shit out loud, and you WILL be pilloried and ridiculed and sent to special schools where they provide you with therapy intended to knock the Denver right out of you. But this is beautiful, from the lyric to the swell of strings to the man’s voice, how he touches that upper register so lightly, then hits it, hard. There are nights when he is missed in my house; this may be one of them.

    Pavement, “Stop Breathin’.” Savant Malkmus … how did he come up with this shit? It’s so nonlinear, lyrically, like damn near every one of his songs, Pavement, Jicks, whatever. I liked Crooked Rain Crooked Rain a lot.

    Bruce Springsteen, “No Surrender.” The anthem of my adolescence. Back in the day, I had a video in my head for this song. It took place at first, in a high school, during the intro sequence, on the last day of school before summer. Kids acting up, all pent-up energy, until someone pushes through the back door of the building (“Well we busted out of class …”), leading to brief scenes of teenage hijinks, which fade in to a performance by the E Street Band, at some sort of local summer fair. Scenes intercut between the fair performance and the kids cutting up, through the first chorus. When the second verse starts (“Well now young faces grow sad and old and hearts of fire grow cold”), it’s Springsteen, walking down a street, deserted but for the members of the E Street Band walking behind him. Cut to a scene of more summer adolescent activity (“And hear your sister’s voice calling us home …”) until the next chorus, and the middle eight, where we’re back on the small stage with the band. And then, for the last verse and choruses, we’re at the 20-year reunion, with the band onstage, and the kids now grown up, reminiscing, dancing, introducing their spouses to people. In the end, no matter how many years have passed, it all comes back down to friendship, and to rock and roll. No retreat. No surrender.

    James Newton Howard, “The Fishmarket.” The fuck? Oh, the Prince of Tides soundtrack. Purchased for the last song on the thing, a Streisand number that still makes my fur rise when I hear it. The rest of the album … whatever.

    Melissa Etheridge, “You Can Sleep While I Drive.” I’ve spent part of the middle and latter portion of 2013 revisiting in memory the period of roughly middle ’89 through May ’90, a portion of time I had long relegated to a creaky cabinet in the back of my mind. This song (and, really, the whole of Etheridge’s Brave and Crazy album) played a big part in that period. I have a feeling that a good bit of 2014 will be given to continuing this quiet, dour reverie.