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Top Holiday Memories - Episode 10

There are so many Christmas songs. We each remember hymns, carols and tunes from year to year. They’re always one or two ‘new’ songs published each year as artists try to share new twists and themes for the season.

I’ll never forget the year I heard “The 12 Redneck Days of Christmas” for the first time.


12 pack of bud, 11 wrestlin' tickets, Tin a' Copenhagen, 9 years probation, 8 table dancers, 7 packs of Redman, 6 cans of spam... 5 flannel shirts..., 4 big mud tires, 3 shot gun shells, 2 huntin dogs, and some parts to a Mustang GT…

Admissions... Confessions...

Ok. I am totally smitten by this song, and the video isn't half bad either. So, all together now "If I was from Paris..."

1976 Musical Memory for 2010

1976 Musical Memory for 2010

In 1976

Al Stewart

and Peter Wood released a melodic song with a play time of over 6 minutes and that still managed to dominate the airwaves. Last Saturday, while mowing the lawn, my iPod shuffled to this song and lost in the magic of ear-bud land, I heard the lyrics as if for the first time. Some of them were familiar to me but as the music rolled on, I was smitten by their beauty. There is real poetry in this song, I tell you.

The simple interpretation of the song lyrics tell a story about a tourist who meets a hippie girl in an exotic market, stays the night with her, and thus misses his tour bus. The larger story is about how we can lose ourselves in someone else to the point that our intended destination is lost and the direction of our lives permanently altered.

Please accept my invitation to listen to or read some of the most romantic and enchanting lyrics from the 70's.

Hear the song here:

Year of The Cat - YouTube


Lyrics below.

Year of the Cat - Al Stewart & Peter Wood

On a morning from a Bogart movie

In a country where they turn back time

You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre

Contemplating a crime

She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running

Like a watercolour in the rain

Don't bother asking for explanations

She'll just tell you that she came

In the year of the cat

She doesn't give you time for questions

As she locks up your arm in hers

And you follow 'till your sense of which direction

Completely disappears

By the blue tiled walls near the market stalls

There's a hidden door she leads you to

These days, she says, I feel my life

Just like a river running through

The year of the cat

Well, she looks at you so cooly

And her eyes shine like the moon in the sea

She comes in incense and patchouli

So you take her, to find what's waiting inside

The year of the cat

Well, morning comes and you're still with her

And the bus and the tourists are gone

And you've thrown away the choice and lost your ticket

So you have to stay on

But the drum-beat strains of the night remain

In the rhythm of the new-born day

You know sometime you're bound to leave her

But for now you're going to stay

In the year of the cat.

Rushing from Past to Eternity

Meet Tom Rush

From the cramped space of my college dorm room and the defined limits of my young adult life, the voice of Tom Rush, gentle and filled with melancholy, touches my mind, my soul and reminds me that there are those who capture life in ballads and tunes hauntingly impassioned.

Tom Rush has both lyrics and music that are of a time gone by. Heck, even for the years of his popularity, he was singing stories and a style from the days of cowboy ballads and hobo songs.

Look him up. Take a trip on some of his lyrics, or just sit back and have your heart rocked lovingly by Maggie from "Ladies Love Outlaws."

Listening for the Voice of God

After attending a faculty concert at the University Of North Carolina School Of The Arts in honor of Mozart’s birthday (great music), my wife and I decided to rent and re-watch “Amadeus.”

The movie is a master piece and tells the story of Mozart’s musical genius through the eyes of the aged, embittered Salieri, a court composer and contemporary of Mozart. What struck me profoundly was Sallieri’s struggle – he speaks of holding within himself the appreciation of and desire to create, divine music and yet, he must live with the reality of his inability to do so.

I believe many of us struggle with similar tensions, unrealized passions. I believe we often find ourselves frustrated by the limitations of our craft to contain something larger than us. Yet, I also believe that it is this desire to manifest something greater than ourselves that can make us truly a vessel of Divine love and empowerment. It is a reoccurring theme and one perhaps worth acknowledging…

Allow Me to Introduce to You, Harry Chapin

The words of his that are most likely familiar to you are “The cat is in the cradle and the silver spoon – little boy blue and the man in the moon – when you coming home dad – I don’t know when - but we'll get together then son...”

Harry Chapin stands alone in my mind with the few true storytellers in the music profession. His music is not only made of melodies that can be as haunting as inspiring, but of words, beautifully crafted words that cast a spell of magic – taking the listener on a journey into themselves, into life lived and life often lost. He was a troubadour of American life at the time when we needed a voice of conscience. Most of his songs were too long for radio broadcast, so only those willing to invest time in an album or a concert truly got to know Harry Chapin. If you don’t know his music, give him a listen – it will be unlike anything being written and sung today.

A consummate entertainer, Harry Chapin died early in an auto crash in 1981. He was an advocate for political change, ending hunger and human rights. He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal after his death, in 1987.

Of his songs, I recommend to you – “A Better Place to Be,” “I Wanna Learn a Love Song,” and “W*O*L*D” to get you started.

Too Sensual for Public Listening Music

I was minding my own business, driving with business colleague to lunch when my iPod shuffled right up to a song that made me very uncomfortable. I may be alone on this one, but there are some songs that are so sensual that I’m uncomfortable hearing them in social settings. Two of them on my list of “too sensual for public listening” are:

Paula Cole – “Feeling Love”

Christina Aguilera - “Nasty Boy”

So, when driving to Steak Street with a female colleague, it is best not to hear Christina Aguilera singing, “Give me a little taste of that sugar below your waist.” Trust me.

What about you? Is there a song that makes you blush if playing in public?

Opus 72

Do you know the number one song from 1972? I do, and I’ll never forget it.

It was New Year’s Eve 1972 and I was listening to a radio program, Opus 72, the top 100 hundred songs of the year counted down. I was home alone. I know, it sounds pitiful, but I was happy – I was 14 and home for the holidays from living away at Military School. We lived in a new home on the water in Murrells Inlet, SC and I was enjoying the time alone with my run of the house. I had set up my stepfather’s reel-to-reel tape recorder to record hours of the countdown.

As the hours ran on, I enjoyed song after song, many of which I was hearing for the first time (living in a Military School where the current events were not so assessable had its draw backs). Time rolled on and one by one the songs played. Then the number one song was announced, at midnight – Roberta Flack’s version of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” I had never heard the song before and was overwhelmed by the romance and beauty of it. There, alone on New Year’s Eve, I felt a real message of love and dedication between two people. That song touched a real longing and desire within me and at 14 I knew I wanted to love like that.

I was such a sappy romantic.

First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the empty skies, my love,
To the dark and the empty skies.

The first time ever I kissed your mouth
And felt your heart beat close to mine
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command, my love
That was there at my command.

And the first time ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy would fill the earth
And last till the end of time my love
It would last till the end of time my love

The first time ever I saw your face, your face,
your face, your face ...

"My God" and 1975

Time at home has allowed me to dig out some old CDs and take a musical ride through time. With the holiday season and all of the festivities associated with it all but over, we have cleared away the torn wrapping paper, empty boxes and some of the Christmas decorations. Today I’ve managed a few minutes to simply sit in the living room and listen to music. I would normally listen to satellite radio or an iTunes play list, but today I’ve dusted off some of the CDs stacked about the room and found an array of music that I haven’t heard for some time. Right now, it’s Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung.”

With this music comes a specific memory. This album takes me back to 1975, Myrtle Beach, SC where I grew up. I remember one very specific day in May, an afternoon after my birthday but before the summer break in between my junior and senior year of high school. I was still driving the hand-me-down family car, a 1966 Chevrolet Bellaire, and at that particular moment was cruising north on Highway 17 between Murrells Inlet and Myrtle Beach headed into town to join friends for pizza and some night time fun. The car stereo was blasting, powered by an 8-Track tape player as I listened for the first time to “My God.” What I remember today, is somehow in that drive I felt very free, and I knew that even though I didn’t fully understand what Tull was saying – I knew two things: There was more about God to learn than my parents had taught me and I liked this crazy, in-your-face, music.

I still know those two things.

"My God"

People -- what have you done --

locked Him in His golden cage.

Made Him bend to your religion --
Him resurrected from the grave.
He is the god of nothing --
if that's all that you can see.
You are the god of everything --
He's inside you and me.
So lean upon Him gently
and don't call on Him to save you
from your social graces
and the sins you used to waive.
The bloody Church of England --
in chains of history --
requests your earthly presence at
the vicarage for tea.
And the graven image you-know-who --
with His plastic crucifix --
he's got him fixed --
confuses me as to who and where and why --
as to how he gets his kicks.
Confessing to the endless sin --
the endless whining sounds.
You'll be praying till next Thursday to
all the gods that you can count.

Not Even Strange

It should have been a strange experience, but it wasn’t.

The room was filled with chatting and laughter. An arrangement of peculiar instruments were placed at one end of the room – didgeridoos, drums, crystal bowls, bull-roars, various flutes from around the world, chimes and items I could not identify formed a semi circle around two men.

My wife had arranged the evening, as she is prone to do, with certainty of purpose. She knows me, and she knows the likelihood of me pursuing such an event on my own is slim. She also knows that the reality of my appreciating and benefiting from such an experience is almost certain. We had registered and made our way back to the main room amid gathering people, nervous laughter, meaningful hugs and an atmosphere of escalating curiosity.

The group of us, about 15 in all, found our places; lying on the floor supported by various mats, pillows and blankets. After a brief explanation, the sounds began. This was advertised as an evening of sound and healing. Amid sometimes gentle and sometimes piercing sounds, I rested motionless and felt my way through the evening. Images came and went. Ideas floating in, some staying a while, and then out. I was sometimes aware of the movement and noises of others. Moments found me very aware of where I was and what was going on. Moments found me adrift in the twilight of relief. Then, as simply as it began, it stopped.

I listened as others shared of their experiences, stories of traveling to other places, regressing to previous life moments, journeying inward to spiritual realms. I understood much of what was shared – conceptually, at least. I just listened.

For me, it wasn’t about going anywhere. It was more about what came to me, and even that, the coming to me, I can’t really describe. What I can tell you is that I have slept wonderfully ever since. Something rode in on the waves of crystal bowls, and in the swirls of twirling blades, and through the chanting of ancient flutes. Something came gently on the tunes of voices and the rhythm of drums. Something of great value came and drifted through the discontinuity of my thoughts, images and sensations. It should have been a strange experience, but it wasn’t. The healing was, well, normal.

Good night.