Thursday, December 23, 2010

my publisher's clearing house moment

Do you know those commercials for the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes?  The one where the lady or man of the house is going about their day-to-day life and they answer a knock on their door only to find someone holding flowers, balloons and a gigantic check, letting them know all their dreams have just come true?

I had one of those moments recently.  Have a look....

(Cell phone video.  I know it sucks but I am just thankful Countrymouse filmed this.)

I still can't believe he's here (or that Matt and Countrymouse were able to pull off the biggest surprise of my life!).  Publisher's Clearing House has nothin' on me!

I hope your holiday is filled with awesome goodness and lifelong memories.  I know mine has been.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

tunes i like tuesday: carol of the bells

So today is the last Tuesday before Christmas and there's still so many songs I'd love to share.  In trying to narrow down my options, I began thinking about songs that stand out as favorites. 

Countrymouse's favorite Christmas song is "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" by Nat King Cole.  I think he actually likes anything sung by Nat King Cole.

One of my mother's favorite Christmas songs was "The Little Drummer Boy".  I have lots of fond memories of singing it with her and my siblings.  When we were very small we really loved the pa rum pum pum pum part.  I can see us now beating away on our imaginary drums, playing our hearts out.

I'm not sure if this changed later in his life but when we were kids, my brother Phil's favorite holiday song was "We Three Kings".  I have to admit I liked it too.  There seemed to be something magical about the melody of the song.  Hearing it now brings me back to the Christmas pageants we did at church when we were young.  All the little boys were shepherds and the little girls all got to dress up as angels.  I can remember feeling so beautiful.  One of the last years we participated in the pageant, I was selected to be Mary and Phil was one of the Wise Men (or Kings).  I can still remember him as he walked down the church aisle bearing his gift while the congregation sung "We Three Kings".  He smiled the entire time.  

I always have a hard time picking one song (or artist) as my favorite... I like so many.  However, for the past several years I would have to say my favorite Christmas song is "Carol of the Bells".  I typically like the versions without lyrics because I find the music to be so beautiful.  I hear this song and I immediately think of everything I love about the holidays.  It's a nice feeling.

"Carol of the Bells" is one of those songs that has been musically interpreted into countless variations.  In it's original form it is an Ukrainian a cappella folk song.  During the last decade or so the song was taken to new heights when the Trans-Siberian Orchestra recorded it in it's rock orchestra style.  Of course you can also find many versions recorded by artists we all know and love.

Since there are so many versions of "Carol of the Bells", I find different recordings evoke different emotions.  Because of that, I thought I'd share three different versions.  Which one do you like best?   

Traditional Ukrainian version, "Shedrik".  The group is Charivna.  Try your best to get past those crazy glasses.

Modern version by The Bird and The Bee with lyrics.  I think this almost has a 60s feel to it.  I love The Bird and The Bee so it's easy for me to like this version.

Instrumental version arranged and preformed by George Winston.  This is probably my favorite.

I hope there is lots of memorable music in your life this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

tunes i like tuesday: the christmas song

There is something very familiar and comforting about traditional songs.  I'm not sure if it's that they have been around our entire lives, that everyone knows them or if we each have our own personal memory of a particular song.  I like tradition and knowing year after year we can look forward to doing the same thing (or hearing the same song).  I think tradition helps bond people by creating a common experience and a common memory.

Here in the US, one of the most beloved Christmas songs is "The Christmas Song" also commonly known as "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire".  I can remember singing this with my mother as a little girl. The song was written in 1944 by the very wonderful Mel Tormé and Bob Wells and first recorded by Nat King Cole in 1946.  Cole went on to record several versions of the song, adding different instrumentation to each, but his definitive version was recorded in 1961.  This is likely the version you know (and hopefully love too.)  Just about everybody who is anybody has recorded their own take on this song, though I must say that most versions don't stray too far from Nat King Cole's.  

Have a listen and enjoy a little holiday tradition. What songs make you think of Christmases past?  Are there any songs that you look forward to hearing every year?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

tunes i like tuesday: winter song

Today's holiday song is a modern one and features the lovely voices of Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson.  Their duet, "Winter Song", is featured on the 2008 album, The Hotel Cafe' Presents: Winter Songs. The album, released in a year tagged as 'the year of the female singer-songwriter', highlights some of today's most popular female artists, from Katy Perry and Colbie Calliat to Brandi Carlile and KT Tunstall.

While I love the old Christmas standards, I appreciate listening to holiday music by artists I play all year round.  This particular album offers many songs I enjoy and find myself listening to quite a bit this time of year.  

Have a listen and tell me what you think.  Are you a traditionalist or are you open to adding to your holiday music playlist?

Winter Songs from Crush Creative on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


"Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each."

 Henry David Thoreau