I’m back after a few days off for the book tour and a trip to North Carolina. So, without further ado, here we go friends!
How exactly did this song become associated with Christmas? Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote the song for The Sound of Music (I’m not a musical person, but it’s my favorite simply because it involves two of my favorite things: beautiful locales and sticking it to Nazis). In the musical and film, Maria sings the song when talking about those happy things that pop into her mind when times are tough. So perhaps for those people who struggle with Christmas—and who, dare we say, dislike the season—also need a few of their favorite things to get them through? The song has some nice winter imagery, and this is supposedly how it came to be associated with the holiday season. My favorite version? Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, who could without a doubt spice up any song they covered. By the way—find a picture of Herb Alpert from the 1960s and you’ll see a sinfully handsome man with a trumpet. Our picture today is a reinterpretation of the classic Herb Alpert cover for Whipped Cream and Other Delights.
And let’s keep that swinging sixties sound going with Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66. Sergio Mendes actually toured with Alpert, who was a great supporter of the Brazilian musician. Alpert signed Mendes to his A&M label. There’s a nice samba flavor to this. Never have I so wanted to spend Christmas in a warm place.
Switching gears, here’s a dose of Americana. Calexico’s “Gift Xchange” is a beautifully sad track. I’ve been searching for the right song to address my own thoughts this Christmas. In many ways, this has been the worst best year I’ve ever had. While I saw the release of my first book, I’ve also had to deal with some heartbreaking and unexpected reaction to that book from my family. In the wake of that, I’m not entirely sure how this Christmas will turn out for me. I’m working on a longer piece about why I love Christmas that will be up in the future, but a large part of that is family. I may not have all of them this year. However, I’m grateful to have the 77 Santas community from around the world here to share in the spirit of the holiday.
For some reason, Rilo Kiley always reminds me of my first year of grad school. I was living in an apartment by myself for the first time in my life. While I spent much of my time writing, I also listened to a lot of music, most of it indie rock. In my mind, indie rock was experiencing its zenith during those years. The Arcade Fire released their first album. And Rilo Kiley was just starting to getting big. More Adventurous was just released, and I listened to “Portions for Foxes” repeatedly that fall. Somehow that song summed up the feeling of being in a new place surrounded by new people. However, it was during that time I met my future wife and my neighbor PC. In fact, it was that first Christmas that we decided to come up with a nice mix holiday for the season. And thus, it began. Here’s the band’s only Christmas song I’m aware of. And, it also captures that first Christmas in terms of my level of poverty. I had squandered my money and was suddenly unsure how I would ever pay my rent or bills. And then I remembered—credit cards. Funny how things come full-circle!