Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas music traditions

The year was 1962 and the popularity of vinyl albums and recordings was in full swing.  Practically anything that could be, was recorded either on reel to reel or vinyl, which included an array of Christmas music. 

The first such recording can be traced back to the early 1900's.  Since then everyone from Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole to Weird Al Yankovic to the Chipmunks and the Partridge Family have recorded yuletide favorites.

And in 1962, an established charactor actor best known for portraying Western characters, released his own Christmas album.

Fast forward a few years or so and in a supermarket in suburban Chicago, a young mother strolls through the aisles with her toddler son carefully placed in a grocery cart, his tiny legs kicking away through the little holes by the handle bar basket nearest her.

At the time, little did they both know that the album  purchased would remain in their family for what now is approaching 50 years.  A Christmas tradition that spans many miles and many states.

Walter Brennan, who holds a record three oscars for best supporting actor and who's acted along side such greats as John Wayne and Henry Fonda, recorded Twas The Night Before Christmas...Back Home. It's become a tradition in my family ever since that stroll in the supermarket. (thanks to technology, it's now on CD as part of a double album.)

Traditional songs such as White Christmas, Silent Night and O Come All Ye Faithful are included along with originals, Henry Had a Merry Christmas and Old Time Christmas Stories, each performed with a choir (as the backdrop) while Walter spins yarns and tales using that recognizable twang of a voice.

Here are four of my favorites:

White Christmas

(I'm dreaming of a White Christmas, just like the ones I used to know. Where the tree top glistened and children listened to hear sleigh bells in the the snow.)

Snow means the north wind blowin' cold
Another log on the fire to keep out the chill
Snow means stayin' indoors for the old
And for the young, sleighin' on the hill
Snow means that the mail won't come from town
And the pond will freeze over enough to skate

Snow means  I'll finally get around to shovelin' a path to the gate
Snow means a Merry Christmas morning
So let that ol' north wind blow
Another log on the fire will keep us all warm
I sure like to see it snow

So may your days be merry and bright
And may all, may all your Christmas' be white.

Silent Night

(Silent Night, Holy Night, All is calm All is bright. Round yon virgin, Mother and Child, Holy infant so tender and mild...)

Seems to me around Christmas
Alot of folks change
Maybe they're a whole lot nicer to one another.
Some of them speak, why I never figured, they'd know'd my name
Cause up til now, well they, they just never bothered.

Yesterday, I seen a banker give money to a hobo
That fella was  probably hungry without no place to stay.
But that banker got more then him out of that money, you know.
He got alot more than what he gave.

So, at this time of year, I guess
Folks are reminded of, of  love, faith and hope
I guess it kinda takes Christmas sometimes
To, to bring out the best in folks.

(Silent Night, Holy Night)

A Farmer's Christmas Prayer

Yea know Lord it's been a while since I've talked with ya
I've been so gawl dern busy with the crops and all
Well I guess I just forgot to take time out

But I ain't a-forgetten that good crop of corn
Ya done give us this year
Eh, and that little heifer ya brought us
Is, is growing like a weed, yes sir.

Without that crop Lord, I guess I'd have to do without that new plow
And Ma would n't have that Sunday dress she's so proud of now.
Oh, I guess we wouldn't have alotta things Lord, if it wasnt' for you.

And that new Church in the valley, Lord,
Well, its about the finest thing that you could ever do
The town's mighty proud of it. We're all gonna be there on Christmas day too.

Oh, you know Billy's going to make it home from the Army for Christmas this year, Lord
We all wanna thank you for that, 'cause we sure do miss em.
It seems like just yesterday, we was buyin' him Christmas toys
He'd be running all over the house ( laughter)  makin' alot of noise.

Ya know, Ma and me, we laugh about that every now and then.
Oh it's going to be good to have him home again.

Well, Lord, I suppose I've used up about all my time
And there must be alot of others a-waiting in line
I reckon during this time of year
Lots of people are waiting to share their Christmas cheer
So don't you worry none about us Lord
Cause me and my family, is going to have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Old Time Christmas Stories

(Let me hear an old time Christmas story to bring back memories, cause Ma is gone and the kids are grown and now there's only me)

If it's about decoratin' the Christmas tree, I still wanna listen
Or hangin' a stockin' by the fireplace, just makes my old heart glisten'
The story about boy who got a pony
Or a girl who got a little doll
Them old stories on Christmas eve, eh, they suit me best of all.

I like those stories around Chrismas time
Of the sleigh rides and the snow
And the story of the Three Wise Men
I'm sure you all know

And we can never forget about ol' Santa Claus
And all the things he's done
Eh those ol' time Christmas stories
I love 'em, everyone

And then there's Mary and Joseph in the Manger
The story I'm sure you remember
And the baby born on Christmas Day
The twenty fifth of December

Yea I like to turn the pages back
To my childhood days of fun
Cause the ol' time Christmas Stories
Eh, I love 'em everyone

(Tell me another Christmas story of happy days gone by, cause Ma is gone and the kids are grown..)

And now there's only me.

My old time Christmas story about buying that record was just shared with me. All these years I hadn't known and now that I do makes it ever more special.

So as you spend your Christmas eve shopping or any day for that matter, what may seem as an innocent purchase or gift, could be come a lasting memory or family tradition that will last a life time.

Merry Christmas!