Archive for the ‘ Mondays! ’ Category

It’s Now or Never…

Elvis Presley would be 83 today!

Here’s my favorite Elvis song.

It’s also my favorite Opera song and Christmas song…Happy Monday!

Here’s some information on the melody…

The Same Old Song.

 

Hark!

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing is a Christmas carol which first appeared in 1739 in the collection Hymns and Sacred Poems.

Its lyrics were written by Charles Wesley. Wesley, a pious and deeply religious man who cherished solemnity, requested slow and solemn music for his lyrics.

It was far from the glorious melody we hear in modern times.

The words were different than what we hear as well.

Wesley’s original opening couplet is Hark! how all the welkin rings / Glory to the King of Kings.”

When I read this, I had to check it out.

Today’s popular version came to us via alterations by various hands.

Wesley’s co-laborer in the ministry, George Whitefield changed the opening couplet to the familiar Hark! The Herald Angels Sing in 1754, and master composer, Felix Mendelssohn gave us the melody we treasure.

In 1840—a hundred years after the publication of Hymns and Sacred Poems—in 1840, Mendelssohn composed a cantata to commemorate Johann Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, and it is music from this cantata, adapted by the English musician William H. Cummings to fit the lyrics of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” that we sing today.

My first question was what heck is welkin and how does it ring?

Welkin comes to us from Middle English, probably the word welkne or wolkne, which mean clouds or heavens.

Old English gave us wolcnu for clouds and the Germanic version of the word is wulkana.

Wesley’s use of the word welkin or heavens identifies the angel band who announced the birth of Christ as filling the sky.

The Bible says a host, which is a very large yet undefined number.  It also says the morning stars sang together, and most if not all Bible scholars identify morning stars as angels.

Imagine the shepherds in the hills of Judea as the welkin or heavens filled with angels announcing the birth of the Christ Child.

They were in awe – reverential fear, BTW, that’s what awe really is.

As the heavens filled with a choir and the night filled with singing, the shepherds looked into the welkin in wonder.

Oh to have been there!

Hail the Heav’n-born Prince of Peace
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and Life around he brings,
Ris’n with Healing in his Wings.

Mild he lays his Glory by,
Born that Men no more may die;
Born to raise the Sons of Earth,
Born to give them second Birth.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

In light of the crappy weather we had over the weekend (it snowed, traffic was a mess, and the flora looks a bit weepy now,) the current flurry of harassment resignations, and the Holiday season, we’re going to talk controversial Christmas songs.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside is a winterscape song generally equated with our Christmas Holiday. It was originally recorded for the Esther Williams film, Neptune’s Daughter!

In the movie, it is performed by Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban as well as Betty Garrett and Red Skelton.  Watch it all the way to the end please…

Written by Tin Pan Alley legend, Frank Loesser in 1944, he premiered it with his wife, Lynn Garland, at their Navarro Hotel apartment in New York City during a house warming party.

The couple sang the song late in the evening as a signal for everyone to vamoose, adios, get the heck out!

#thepartysover

The lyrics written in a “call and response” format, simulate a conversation between a man and a woman, or in today’s age, a woman and a woman, a man and a man, and a who know’s what and a man, a who know’s what …and you get the point.

It’s a duet.

She starts by saying “I really can’t stay.”

He replies with, “Baby, it’s cold outside.”

Every line is in the she/he format.

The gal is trying to save her reputation, which I might add, she’s already jeopardized by going to his place alone – and get the heck out of there.

He’s giving her every reason to stay.

Vanity Fair says the song is “…predatory…undeniably, unquestionably, predatory.  And just kind of like, unforgivable.”

First of all, Vanity Fiar, SMH.

Secondly, “like” in an essay.  Mildred Carson would not be pleased!

The song for 70 years was essentially harmless, a Christmas standard, recorded by everyone from Ray Charles to Dolly Parton, and well, just generally loved by all.

And then, as we history buffs like to say, “The shit hit the fan.”

I’m not sure just exactly what or whom it was that caused the awakening to these predatory, rape culture, sexist lyrics, but I’d like to find them and, gee, I don’t know, throw a (virgin) martini in their face.

It’s a song!

Some folks, obviously those with a lot of time on their hands, point out that “What’s in this drink” and the man’s unrelenting pressure for the woman to stay in spite of her repeated “I really can’t stays” suggest an acceptance of his predatory behavior.

It was 1944 folks, “What’s in this drink?,”  was a stock joke in the era, and people, men and women alike, used the line to excuse behavior that might be deemed questionable.

It was 1944 folks, an unchaperoned woman at a man’s home – well it just wasn’t done.

But, hey, she was there, so worrying about the neighbors and her maiden aunt’s vicious mind came a little late.

The song makes sense in context; society at the time expected single women to reject men’s advances whether they wanted to or not.

Helen didn’t write Sex and the Single Girl until 1962.

The male in the song offers her excuses to break those rules.

OK, one excuse,” It’s cold outside.”

She uses all the culturally accepted signals that say she wants to stay, but can’t say it out right.

“I ought to say, no, no, no…”

“…at least I’m gonna say I tried.”

When the song ends, they are singing in harmony – really terrific harmony if you listen closely.

Some might go as far to say the song is about the empowerment of women.  In a society built at the time to prohibit her from making her own sexual decisions, she is trying to find a way to take charge of her own sexuality and her own life.

In  1944, women weren’t supposed to say yes, but no one gave them a clear way to say no.

That was then.

Now, in light of current news headlines from all parts of the world, many view it as a song that justifies coercion and even rape.

Talk about your war on Christmas!

Frankly, I view it as a courtship dance – that’s probably what Loesser and Garland intended.

Here’s a current version. Idina Menzel and Michael Buble.

 

In case you need a laugh now, read this version…

https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/baby-its-cold-outside-december-2017-version

 

And, it really is cold outside!

It Really Is…

The quote “inspiration is everywhere” is attributed to many folks.  Some say it was Albert Einstein, some say Louis B. Meyer, some say Edison, and some say it’s so old we really can’t know who thought it UP first.

That may be the case, but regardless of who came UP with the quote, it’s very, very true.

I’m often inspired by things around me; good and bad.

You wouldn’t think the Cuban Missle Crisis of the early 1960s would have inspired one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time, but it did.

Do You Hear What I Hear? was written in October of 1962 by Noel Regney and was put to music by Gloria Shayne Baker.

Married at the time, the couple wrote it as a plea for peace.

Regeny, who was hesitant at first due to the commercialism of Christmas, was asked  to write a Christmas song by a record producer out to make a buck.

The couple, who often wrote together, reversed roles for this number.  Baker usually wrote the lyrics and Regney would compose the music.

Noel – funny how that name worked out – came UP with the lines, “Said the night wind to the little lamb, “Do you see what I see”?”  and “Pray for peace, people everywhere” while people watching.  Mothers pushing babies in strollers on the streets of New York City were his inspiration.

The song was released just after Thanksgiving in 1962.  Originally recorded on The Little Drummer Boy album by the Harry Simeone Chorale, it became a number one hit when Bing Crosby covered it in 1963.

As the world prepared for war, not knowing just how close they were to it in 1962, two people saw a reason to sing for hope.

Here are two versions, Harry’s first and the modern update by Carrie Underwood.

As we begin this Christmas Season in an uncertain world more than half a century later, let’s pray for peace everywhere.