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.

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