Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #1

Thanks for the reading the Lattanzi Land Christmas Music Countdown - it will be found under the Greatest Hits link at the top of the page - you can also click on it here!

Number One on this countdown is an easy one - it's "O Holy Night". The toughest part was deciding which version of that great and wonderful song to use. There are at least five variations of it that I absolutely love. I have decided to put three particular versions of it. The first is from Celtic Woman in their Christmas concert:

The second is from Josh Groban...

And the third is from Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, who was featured in Number Three ("Silent Night") as part of Celtic Woman, but here she sings it as a solo, and much like her singing "Silent Night", it is absolutely angelic, and the high note she hits on the final "Noel" in the song is positively tear-inducing.

Again, thanks for following the Countdown. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and enjoys the beauty of the songs!

The Christmas Proclamation!

This has always been one of my favorite things about going to Midnight Mass every year at Christmas time.  The proclamation is a moving piece when done very well - and it always is at my parish.  A special shout out to my dear friends Eddie and Hilary, who became engaged at the end of Midnight Mass!  Cent'Anni!  And may the blessings of the Lord be upon them!  To the proclamation itself:

The twenty-fifth day of December.
In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world
from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;
the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;
the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;
the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses
and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
the one thousand and thirty-second year from David's being anointed king;
in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;
in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;
the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
the whole world being at peace,
in the sixth age of the world,
Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and nine months having passed since his conception,
was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary,
being made flesh.
The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

Merry Christmas to all, and God bless us everyone!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #2

For the rest of the countdown - go here!

Number Two on this Christmas Eve is a song that is fairly new, but it is one that I find to be a sweet song - "Mary Did You Know?" - a duet by Wynonna Judd and Kenny Rogers. While this isn't a song I would recommend for any kind of worship, and the Christology is a bit underdeveloped (theology nerd shining forth!), it is nonetheless a type of song that leads one to ponder who Jesus is. In this day and age of over-commercialization and a tendency to forget just what Christmas is about, it is a song that at least attempts to bring us back to what Christmas is about, and there is something to be said for that - a LOT to be said for that. Enjoy!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #3

For the rest of the countdown - see here!

Number Three is perhaps the sweetest of all Christmas carols - "Silent Night". There are many wonderful versions out there, but none stirs the soul like the rendition performed by Méav Ní Mhaolchatha (then of Celtic Woman) and fiddler Máiréad Nesbitt (still with Celtic Woman). Méav's voice along with Máiréad's violin is haunting, and she actually sings it in Gaelic first before singing in English. Her voice is truly that of an angel and no one will be able to convince me otherwise. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #4

For the rest of the countdown - click the link!

Number four comes from a source that is well known for its Christmas concerts - the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The selection is "Joy To the World". All through my life, there has never been anything more rousing than listening and singing this song as we leave Midnight Mass every year, especially the final climactic verse. Every year when the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is on TV, I stop and listen. I obviously don't belong to that particular church, but damn it, they have a fine fine choir. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #5

For the rest of the countdown - go here!

Number five is one that I have come upon fairly recently, only in the last few years. I wish I had known about it earlier - it's "Christmas Canon" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I love the Canon in D by Pachelbel, and so any kind of addition to it like this is usually going to sound very nice. I love the singing of the children, as well as the medium speed orchestral arrangement. I can't say, however, that I care too much for the companion "Christmas Canon Rock". The remaining four are still to come! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #6

For the rest of the countdown - go here!

We are getting close to the end of the countdown, and at number six, we have an "unorthodox" version of a song - "Carol of the Bells" by Manheim Steamroller. As an added bonus, the video linked here is of a guy who rigged the lights of his house to the song. Quite a sight to behold! Enjoy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #7

To see the rest of the countdown - click here!

Number seven is a delightfully traditional carol - "O Come All Ye Faithful". The rendition of it here is done by the Irish singing group Celtic Woman. You will see more of them over the next week; their singing style is perfect for the types of songs that are sung at Christmas time - like listening to angels sing.

Most people only know the first verse of the song, but the subsequent verses are as good a summary of basic orthodox Christology that you will find. Usually, at midnight Mass, it is the opening hymn of that celebration after listening to the Christmas Proclamation. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #8

For the rest of countdown - follow the link!

Our next song in the countdown is a bit of a slower one, but is a timeless classic of the past 60 years - "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" by Frank Sinatra. Originally introduced by Judy Garland in the early 1940's, the most famous version is this one by Sinatra, recorded in 1957. Many others have tried to emulate Ol' Blue Eyes, but with little to no success in that regard. Sinatra had a distinct voice and that's why people love this particular version more than any other. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #9

For the rest of the countdown, click here!

Number nine isn't a Christmas selection, per se, but the very essence of it is tied with the nature of what that Holy Day represents. It is the "Hallelujah Chorus", which is the final piece of the Second Part of Handel's Messiah (contrary to common thought that it is the final climactic song of the entire Messiah). This particular rendition is from The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chorus, along with its namesake chamber orchestra. The simplicity of something like this piece is powerful, and it goes within the Christmas spirit of celebration that the Lord has arrived. Enjoy!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #10

For the rest of the countdown - check out the link!

Now we are finally to the top ten of the countdown! For the most part, we are dealing with religious songs from this point forward. Makes sense, since Christmas is, you know, a religious holiday and all (although Lucy van Pelt would argue otherwise).

#10 is "Go Tell It On the Mountain", done by Dolly Parton. She puts a lot of soul into it and is just an enjoyable performance. Christmas is nine days away, and we still have a lot of great classics and incredibly moving songs to get into. Enjoy and share!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #11

To see the rest of the countdown - go here!

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" is a classic all the way around, but the one that I love the most is the one from the 1979 special A Christmas Together, which has John Denver singing along with the Muppets. Miss Piggy's over-dramatic five gold rings is a highlight, along with the constant interaction of all the major characters that made the Muppets famous - Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Rowlf, and so on. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #12

To see the rest of the countdown - click here!

The next one on this little countdown is a very simple song and yet every time I hear it, I can't help but sing along. It is Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad". Yes, it is very repetitive, but then again, so is the "Hallelujah Chorus" and the "Ave Maria". Repetition (or lack thereof) doesn't necessarily make or break the song. I cannot hear this song without thinking of this. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Where Does It End?

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is pushing for a ban nationwide on all 'smartphones' (and other electronic devices) in a moving car, even those that are hands-free.

That's a bit too much.

The question I ask in the title is an apt one.  Why stop there?  Why not ban eating and consuming (soft) beverages, listening to radios, and even having passengers in the automobile.  Aren't all of those things distractions as well?

While the accidents (such as the one mentioned in the linked article) are tragic, they don't necessarily call for the draconian solutions being put forth by organizations such as NTSB. What is being done in the name of 'safety' is ultimately an attempt to control our behavior and steer us like the cattle our political masters believe us to be.

Will banning hands-free phone make the roads safer?  I doubt it.  But what it will do is turn masses of people who would rather just go through life anonymously into petty criminals. Unfortunately, I believe this to be the actual goal of a certain subset of those who are currently in power.

Christmas Music Countdown - #13

For the rest of the countdown - click here!

For #13 we go with a little bit of soul...because..ELVIS!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #14

For the rest of the countdown - go here!

We are finally getting closer to turning it from secular to religious songs, but we aren't there just yet. #14 is another fun romp that people of all generations can enjoy - Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree". Many have tried to emulate her style, but there is no one other than her who can belt this one out. This is also another song that reminds me of Home Alone, when Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) sets up the mannequins in the house to fool the burglars. Good times, indeed. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #15

To see the rest of the countdown - follow this link!

The next song in our countdown isn't necessarily even a true Christmas song, but it is associated very heavily with the season - "Linus and Lucy", the theme from Peanuts and one of the most iconic sounds of A Charlie Brown Christmas. The scene of all the characters dancing on the stage is a very famous one and has been emulated many times.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #16

For the rest of the countdown - go here!

A true classic we have at #16 - Andy Williams' "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year". I have always adored this version of the song. It is full of exuberance and gives some of the reasons why we enjoy the company of our loved ones and the things we do. True, it isn't particularly religious, but it does encompass the spirit of the season. Enjoy!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #17

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#17 is an incredibly entertaining one - "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch", from the 1966 television special How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The lyrics were actually written by Dr. Seuss himself and sung by Thurl Ravenscroft (also the voice of Tony the Tiger in Frosted Flakes commercials). It provides some sense of comedic relief in what is otherwise a fairly serious (but poetic) program. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Albert Pujols Is Who We Thought He Was...

This picture is now obsolete
So I guess my wish of Albert Pujols coming to Philadelphia is null and void.  Nuts.

Pujols agreed to a ten year, $254 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Orange County of California and thus completely removed any semblance of the bright eyed this-guy-is-different-than-the-rest mentality that seemed to surround him for most of his career in St. Louis.

He's now a mercenary, pure and simple.

Now, before anyone jumps on me for that particular use of a loaded term such as 'mercenary', allow me to state that there isn't anything wrong with that, per se.  As one of the greatest players ever, he certainly has the right to sell his services to the bidder of his choosing. Notice, however, that I didn't say 'highest bidder', especially since Pujols didn't accept the allegedly higher deal the Miami Marlins were offering (supposedly $275 million).  The Cardinals were offering around $220 million, which is certainly not chump change by any stretch of the imagination.  With all that said about Pujols' right to do what he will in choosing his employer, let's mention a couple of other things...

1) Pujols took more money in Anaheim over staying in St. Louis, but he has thrown away the opportunity to be a local god and the greatest player in the history of the Cardinals franchise - greater than Musial, Hornsby, or Gibson.  That's his decision, and so be it, but money doesn't buy happiness and love, and he would have had the latter forever, and that kind of adoration in a hometown is priceless.

2) Can we please, please stop saying the Cardinals 'lowballed' Pujols?  $220 million to do any job is not 'lowballing' in any meaningful sense.  It is an insult to people who actually do get lowballed in their professional lives.  The Cardinals in some ways may actually be breathing a sigh of relief; Pujols will be thirty-two years old this coming season and ten years is a loooooong time.  Almost a year ago, I stated in these pages that I would go no longer than eight years for someone who is at his age.  I would bet that he doesn't play out the whole contract.  Time will tell...

3) The spin coming out is that Pujols 'took less money' to sign with the Angels.  It seems to me that this is an attempt to be Cliff Lee redux - from the whole 'mystery team' thing to this (idiotic) notion that he was leaving money on the table.  I had hoped the Phillies would be the mystery team again, but 'twas not to be.  I think Pujols and co. knew that the Marlins would be having a fire sale within 3-4 years anyway, and the Angels are a much more stable place to play with a big market and people who, you know, actually care about baseball.

I look at Pujols' signing and remind myself that the fundamental nature of Major League Baseball is that of a business.  A lot of people are upset, especially in St. Louis, but many fans of the sport are upset as well, because they truly believed that Albert Pujols was the final bulwark against the total immersion of the mercenary player; that he was a throwback to an era of loyalty to one team.  That mirage has been completely destroyed and the pieces have been vacuumed up.  Pujols is now just another guy who can hit a baseball very well.  

And that doesn't sit well with more than a few people.

Christmas Music Countdown - #18

To see the rest of the countdown - click here!

As you have noticed, we have been doing a lot of secular-type songs so far in the countdown. This is intentional for the time being - the truly religious songs will be coming as we move down toward number one.  #18 is a just a good, old-fashioned romp: "Jingle Bell Rock" by Bobby Helms.  It's short, quick paced, and easy with which to sing along.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #19

For the rest of the countdown - look here!

We move to #19 today with one of the masters of the guitar - Chuck Berry and his famous "Run Rudolph Run". I have to admit that I can never think of this song without envisioning the McCallister family running though O'Hare International Airport in Home Alone. Catchy song, beat, and enjoyable to sing. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #20

To see the rest of the countdown - click here!

We unveil #20 today with a bit of heresy to some traditionalists.  The choice is "White Christmas", a song written by Irving Berlin, but the rendition I chose is not by Bing Crosby, but by the doo-wop group The Drifters.  It's not that Bing's version is bad; it's actually very good - and the way he sings it in the film of the same title is very moving, but for repeat performance and sheer enjoyment, The Drifters it is.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

BCS Whining...

There used to be a time when I was as against the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) as the next guy.

Not any longer.

Does this mean I care about it?  Not really - as most people who know me well know, I am not that big of a fan of college football anyway. You should be able to tell by the dearth of posting I make concerning the subject.  Also throw in the fact that I have been known to defend the BCS against meddling do-gooders who try to fight one vice (greed) by using another (envy).  Hmmm, kinda like how the Occupy Wall Street movement operates...

But I digress...

The latest BCS berths have been announced and #1 LSU will play against #2 Alabama in a rematch of an earlier season game in which LSU won 9-6.  People are upset that Oklahoma State isn't 'getting their chance' to show that they can hold their own against LSU.

Too bad.  

I still advocate a playoff in college football - and there is a way to do it, but so long as the major conferences make this deal to line their pockets with television money, nothing will ever move forward with regard to a playoff system.  We can keep whining about it, but in all honesty how much has that accomplished?  Not a single iota of change.  I have decided that I am just not going to waste my breath anymore yelling and screaming about the inherent unfairness of the current system.  The BCS needs that bitching; it thrives on it - for it believes the axiom that 'any publicity is good publicity' - and there is a lot of truth to it.  The very fact that entire fan bases whine about being screwed over for the national championship game continues to give fuel to the BCS fire and does more to sustain the system than eliminate it.

The only way it will stop is for people to stop going and stop watching, which will never happen.  People don't have the discipline to just ignore the savagery known as college football, in the name of 'tradition' and other things.  Knowing these things, I have just decided to stop caring and learn to love and embrace the system.

It's not going anywhere, and that's the fact, Jack.

Christmas Music Countdown - #21

To see the rest of the countdown - go here!

The next song on the countdown is encompasses a little cartoon short - from the Chipmunks, entitled "Christmas Don't Be Late".  It's a cute little ditty and is one that I remember all through my childhood (even though I obviously wasn't alive when this hit #1 on the charts in 1958-59), thanks to the Christmas special, A Chipmunk Christmas.  This is the original short cartoon.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #22

To see the rest of the countdown, go here!

Today's song in the Christmas countdown is one that always stirs up an argument in my home.  The song, "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer", is a novelty song that came out in the late 1970's, but has become a fixture on the radio.  How does it stir up an argument?  In the silly little cartoon of the same name, Grandma is held hostage and is alive after being run over by a reindeer.  In the song, as I argue in the post linked above, it is plain that Grandma is killed from the incident.  But no matter - every year brings up the exact same silly argument!  Anyway - enjoy the song by Elmo and Patsy...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #23

To find the countdown so far - go here! 

We continue our countdown today with a little bit of an outside choice, entitled "True Blue Miracle" from the 1978 television special Christmas Eve On Sesame Street.  It's a sweet little song that has a lot of the original cast that I came to know and love.  The premise of the song is that Christmas has the power to transform in ways that most other times of the year are unable to do. Enjoy!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #24

We began the countdown yesterday with Gene Autry's "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" and we move along to the next one each day leading up to the celebration of the birth of the Lord.

#24 is Johnny Mathis' rendition of "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas". Most people are split in their opinion between Mathis and Bing Crosby's version, but Mathis has much more of a joyous sound in his rendition; Crosby sounds too down (and part of that is just how his voice is) in what should be a song that demonstrates a child-like joy of the approach of Christmas. Enjoy and make sure to return each day for the next song in our countdown!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Music Countdown - #25

This year I wanted to do a countdown of Christmas music - of my twenty-five favorite Christmas-themed songs; there won't be too many repeats of songs, but as I complained last year around this time, the all-Christmas format of radio stations just doesn't have enough material to sustain it for over a month.  This way is better - just consider it one Christmas song a day all the way through that day itself - when #1 will be revealed to all!

#25 - is an oldie - Gene Autry's rendition of "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer".  I particularly enjoy the jazzy-flavor of it and the middle instrumental verse is the clincher.  Stay tuned every day during the afternoon for the next item in our Christmas music countdown.  Enjoy!

Christmas Music Countdown

This year I wanted to do a countdown of Christmas music - of my twenty-five favorite Christmas-themed songs; there won't be too many repeats of songs, but as I complained last year around this time, the all-Christmas format of radio stations just doesn't have enough material to sustain it for over a month. This way is better - just consider it one Christmas song a day all the way through that day itself - when #1 will be revealed to all!

Come here to see all the best Christmas music Lattanzi Land has to offer each and every day! Number One will be revealed on Christmas itself!  Enjoy

#24 - "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas" (Johnny Mathis)
#23 - "True Blue Miracle" (Christmas Eve On Sesame Street)
#22- "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" (Elmo and Patsy)
#21 - "Christmas Don't Be Late" (Dave Seville and the Chipmunks)
#20 - "White Christmas" (The Drifters)
#19 - "Run Rudolph Run" (Chuck Berry)
#18 - "Jingle Bell Rock" (Bobby Helms)
#17 - "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" (How the Grince Stole Christmas)
#16 - "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" (Andy Williams)
#15 - "Linus and Lucy" (A Charlie Brown Christmas)
#14 - "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" (Brenda Lee)
#13 - "Here Comes Santa Claus" (Elvis Presley)
#12 - "Feliz Navidad" (Jose Feliciano)
#11 - "The 12 Days of Christmas" (John Denver and the Muppets)
#10 - "Go Tell It On The Mountain" (Dolly Parton)
#9 - "Hallelujah Chorus" (Academy of St. Martin In The Fields Chorus)
 #8 - "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Frank Sinatra)
 #7 - "O Come All Ye Faithful" (Celtic Woman)
 #6 - "Carol of the Bells" (Manheim Steamroller)
 #5 - "Christmas Canon" (Trans-Siberian Orchestra)
#4 - "Joy To The World" (The Mormon Tabernacle Choir)