On my way into work this morning, while there was frost on my
windshield and rear window, I blasted my heater and I was once
again, thankful for the warmth and the sound of the air coming
out with a whoosh! The radio was playing one of the most cheery
songs, with a country twang in her voice, Brenda Lee was singing,
“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” The radio announcer was
using a pleasant, vibrant sounding voice, “Good Morning and let’s
all say, ‘Happy 70th Birthday to . . . Brenda Lee!'”
The first recording of this rocking song was in 1958, written by
Johnny Marks, for Decca Records.
While driving behind the school bus, the air brakes squealing and
the door opening on London Road, to admit busy and excited
high schoolers, (yes, I am up that early!) I felt the movement in
my feet tapping to the music on the radio and the emotions of
the students, too. I usually wish I weren’t ‘stuck’ behind a school
bus, since this means two stops on London Road, along with the
longer stop at the railroad where we ‘catch’ the train, having to
wait for it to pass by. The train whistle blew, the steam was puffing
out of the ‘chimney’ and I felt the rumbling of its approaching
and then listened to the rattling of the clickety-clack. That is how I
would describe the repetition of the sound.
Once I got into my building, several people call out my name, some
who are going off to sleep, (third shifters) and those who are on my
own shift, greeting me. These are happy people since our bosses
had decided to pack our day with ‘heavy’ work and include our half
day’s worth of work we usually do on Friday and complete it today.
This means a three day weekend! Hurrah!
At first break, I told my two friends, Tammy and Karen, about Brenda
Lee’s birthday. We agreed the song was still a popular one, the way
it has a lot of joy and glee in its words. Then, Tammy told me she has
been enjoying listening to Harry Connick, Jr. and Lady Antebellum’s
Christmas albums. Karen stated she loves her older albums, now on
Cd’s which include those familiar voices which bring nostalgia into
her home and heart. She likes Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Burl
I started making a list in my head, of the songs and people they were
talking about and decided to also, include some of my own personal
favorite songs and carols, along with some memorable sounds of the
holiday season. This is a compilation of some of my favorites, along
with some coworkers’ suggestions:
1. Harry Connick, Jr. singing, “Sleigh Ride,” which begins with the
“Just hear those sleigh bells jingling,
Ring, ting tingling too…” (Thanks to my friend, Tammy.)
2. Dean Martin singing, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,”
which was written in 1951, by Meredith Wilson.
3. Bing Crosby singing, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” This
makes me sad, thinking of those who are in the armed services who
may not make it home for Christmas. The thought of the Bob Hope’s
USO holiday celebrations overseas for years and years, quickly cheers
me up again. This tradition carries on still through the help of the
USO.org. There was a lovely photograph of Idina Menzel with some
military families representing the USO. I hope the troops have a lot
of fun and the jokes make them laugh out loud, like Bob Hope would
wish this to go. “Thanks for the memories, Bob!”
Here is a short schedule of locations they are expected to be
entertaining the troops:
Dec. 7-16, 2014: Japan, Guan and Hawaii, with the Dallas Cowboys
Dec. 13- Clare Bowen (Hostess) at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.
Dec. 16- Anthony Hamilton (Host) at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.
Jan. 3 – 9, 2015: Robert Irvine (Host) at Japan and Okinawa.
(Thanks to my friend, Karen, for reminding me of both Bob Hope
and the USO, along with Bing Crosby and Dean Martin’s songs.)
3. Whitney Houston singing the hymnal carol, “Do You Hear What I
(Thank you to Melvin, my coworker, who suggested this version but
I enjoy Carrie Underwood’s ‘take’ on this lovely song also. )
Here is a bit of the history of the song: It was written in 1962, by a
married couple who were moved by seeing children on the streets
of New York City (babies in strollers) and what the lamb might have
heard in the manger scene. This was on the cusp of the Cuban Missile
Crisis, which is why there are words imparting a message of Peace.
The lyrics were written by Noel Regney and the music was written by
his wife, Gloria Shayne Baker.
4. John Lennon and Yoko Ono, “Happy Xmas/War is Over,” which
begins with the words, “So This is Christmas.” It was written in 1971,
with tongue in cheek, by John and Yoko, in protest to the Viet Nam
War. It is also said they were thinking of their future children and
what children would ‘inherit’ in the world, with war still going on.
(Their son, Sean Lennon, was not born until 1975.)
When this song was produced, the voices of John, Yoko, the Plastic
Ono Band (with instrumentals) and the Harlem Community Choir
were beautifully blended together. The flip side of this single was
called, “Listen, the Snow is Falling.” The cover of this is ‘vintage’
looking in sepia brown and beige, with the children’s choir, ages 4-14,
included on it.
This song was also played a lot, after John Lennon was murdered on
December 8, 1980; 34 years ago this week.
*This is one of my own personal favorites.
5. Nat King Cole singing, “The Christmas Song,” also recognized as,
“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” This lovely song was written
in 1944, by Bob Wells and Mel Torme.
*Another of my favorites, since my parents played this on their stereo.
6. Bruce Springsteen’s version of the old classic song, “Santa Claus Is
Coming to Town.” This is the 2nd oldest song on the list today. It was
written in 1934, by John F. Coats and Haven Gillespie. It was presented
for the first time on the Eddie Cantor’s Radio Show. Later, in 1935, it was
also recorded by the Tommy Dorsey Band. My parents listened to this
version on the stereo and radio.
*I love the way Bruce ‘rocks this one out!’
7. My friend Cheryl thought the carol, which to her sounds like it belongs
in a church with a choir, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” sung by
Julie Andrews, is her favorite song of all time. This hymn was written
by a Unitarian minister, Edmund Sears, in 1849. He lived in Wayland,
Massachusetts. There are various versions of music to go with his
Here are a few unusual ones to share with you:
Sergio Franchi sang this in 1965. He was an Italian opera tenor, who
died in Connecticut.
Eric Burdon and the Animals used the music from “The House of
the Rising Sun,” to accompany these lyrics.
Stefan Borsch, (Sweden) performed this in his native language.
The Lettermen performed and put this on a Christmas album in
Darryl Hall and John Oates included this in a Christmas album.
Anne Murray sang this in 2001, which I feel this would be simple
and beautifully done.
Josh Groban, who is known for singing operatic style, sang this in
2007. He does a fine performance of the song, “You Lift Me Up.”
Cheryl is feeling much better about her grandson’s recent death,
since she enlarged a favorite photograph of Christopher when he
was only 6 years old, with her mother, his great-grandmother. She
likes to say often, “Christopher is up in Heaven with my Mom.”
Last Christmas, you may have noticed, Cheryl had me write down a
short message/poem she had written in memorial of her mother’s
fifth anniversary of her death. We are close to one another in the way
we get emotional and are sentimental. She is my one coworker who
cried and held my hand, while we watched the first Inauguration of
President Barack Obama. If you did not read the one night I wrote,
“I have to go,” over and over on a post, you may not know that her
grandson died in his sleep, due to his weakened body, his having both
a combination of the flu and a cold. The autopsy of this fine 23 year
old graduate of Delaware High School and Columbus State student
will not be completed until after the first of the New Year. Cheryl takes
comfort that he had put up his Christmas tree the day of his death and
had also called her to tell her he was putting on some special family
ornaments she had given him when he turned 21.
Here are special sounds that are permanently etched into my own
1. A fire in a fireplace crackling. The logs making a ‘thump’ when they
fall into one another. There is peaceful serenity in listening to a fire.
2. A little child whispering in your ear. This almost makes the hairs
on my arms stand on end. It is magical, whatever words are told.
3. The ‘clink’ of a crystal or glass against another one, while a toast
is being given. The sound of the repeated ‘clinks’ at weddings, to get
the bride and groom to kiss, makes me smile.
4. Dogs bounding towards the door, barking or yipping loudly,
announcing the arrival of guests.
5. The door slammed. I imagine those who have little children saying
to themselves, “Oh, how annoying…” and following this with a lecture
to their children, “We never slam doors in our house.” Somehow, one
day it will come to this, you will wish to hear the door slamming with
the following sound of the words, “Mommy/Daddy. . . I’m home!”
Trust me on this.
6. Baby lambs in the country kitchen of my first babysitter, Mrs. Auble,
“Baa-ing” or ‘bleating’ for their milk bottles, followed by the slurping
noises of their drinking and pulling on the bottles, furiously tugging.
7. Hearty yells. Across sledding hills, neighbors greeting each other
across streets and yards, and the one voice, that would bring you
running home for lunch (summer) and dinner (winter).
8. Leather boots or rubber boots crunching through the snow. The
sound of the crunch makes you stop talking and ponder in wonder.
9. Birds chirping and singing despite the weather. They always seem
to not be concerned with the cold, brisk air. Their songs echoing in the
early morning air. (Particularly, for me, the cardinal’s message.)
10. The sound of a familiar voice coming across the air waves, now
on cell phone. Back then, on a heavy, black rotary dial phone, of
loved ones (grandparents) far away.
Those are my carefully chosen Top Ten “sounds,” will you please let us
know what sounds make you happy, particularly around the holidays?
You may mention a song or a personal memory. . .