Latest Appreciations

Album Cover for To Kingdom Come

Christmas Must Be Tonight

I've always loved this Christmas song from The Band.

There's nothing terribly fancy or ambitious about it. Robbie Robertson just recounts the story of Christmas, of the birth of Jesus, in a series of familiar scenes, using simple and straightforward language.

Come down to the manger, see the little stranger,
Wrapped in swaddling clothes, the prince of peace.
Wheels start turning, torches start burning,
And the old wise men journey from the East.

Album Cover for a Putamaya Christmas

Christmas Bells

On Christmas day in 1863 American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote “Christmas Bells.” Longfellow's words from this poem have been set to music by a number of different composers and performers, starting as early as 1872. There are a number of contemporary recordings based on this poem, but the one with which I am particularly taken is a rather obscure track by John Gorka. The music here is Gorka's, and doesn't seem to share anything with other musical renditions of the poem. Gorka dropped three of the stanzas, including those most directly referencing the Civil War, leaving him with four verses for his song.
Blue Yule album cover

Please Come Home for Christmas

If Christmas is supposed to return us to home and family, then of course songs will be written about those who are still left yearning for a reunion with loved ones during the holiday season. Charles Brown helped to give us the joyful “Merry Christmas Baby,” but he also first delivered, and co-wrote, the plaintive appeal found in “Please Come Home for Christmas.”
Soul Christmas album cover

Merry Christmas Baby

This song was originally recorded in 1947 by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers, featuring Charles Brown on piano and vocals. The original recording was a hit on the Rhythm and Blues charts, and the song has been recorded by many blues and R&B artists down through the years. The lyrics recount the happy tale of a man feeling appreciative of his wife/girlfriend on Christmas morning, after opening his many presents.