Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day!

Santa's not ready to leave the beach just yet.  Can you blame him?
It's been exactly eight months since this blog began its post-holiday hiatus, and with just 112 days left until Christmas, this last unofficial weekend of summer seems like a good time to check in and say "hi." Although I've now been out of school for more than a couple of years, Labor Day continues to stir-up that same curious mix of melancholy, dread and resolve that it did for me as a child, and now that Jerry Lewis is off the air I'm not sure I can fairly blame it on the Labor Day Telethon at this point. There's something poignant about the end of summer somehow, and those feelings persist regardless of how one spent any particular season or whether it was a boom or bust. Happily, I've always been one of those people whose processed memories are rose-colored, and I'm grateful for my ability to find great joy in the simplest of things -- for example, holiday music!  And, yes, I'm happy to report that I've already put together around 25 tracks for this year's CD, including a couple of honest-to-goodness monstrosities that will destroy whatever visions of sugarplums might otherwise dance in your heads this season.  More on all that, of course, sometime in December.

Before rejoining Santa on hiatus, however, I do want to share several video clips. First, among the many talented entertainers we've lost so far in 2012 is Andy Griffith, who has always been a favorite of mine.  Although his wonderful series "The Andy Griffith Show" was on television for eight years, the first season was the only one to include a Christmas-themed episode. However, that one episode was a classic, and it's worth watching anytime of year.  So with the Democrats gathering for their Convention this week just down the road apiece from Mayberry, here's a chance to honor Andy and celebrate some true Democratic values with the episode titled "Christmas Story" (in two parts, below):

Finally, one of this summer's biggest concert draws has been Bruce Springsteen, who's been touring throughout the United States and Europe with the remarkable E Street Band in support of his latest album, Wrecking Ball.  I've been watching Bruce play live for 34 years now, and he and the band have never sounded better. With his 63rd birthday just three weeks away, he's routinely doing shows that last three and a half hours or more, and his August show at Helsinki's Olympiastadion clocked in at four hours and six minutes — the longest show he's ever done.  As mentioned here last December, longtime E Street Band member Clarence "Big Man" Clemons died last June, and there was some question about whether the band would be able to go on without the Big Man.  Of course, they have continued, with Clarence's nephew, Jake Clemons, and a five-piece horn section filling the void.  But at each show on the current tour, Springsteen honors Clarence's memory, along with the late E Street band organist Danny Federici, in a most touching fashion.  YouTube is loaded with clips from every stop on Springsteen's "Wrecking Ball" tour, but here are two especially awesome numbers to keep you going 'til our next appearance. The first is from the second night of a two-night stand last month at Boston's historic Fenway Park — "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out," which includes a tribute to the Big Man starting at 3:40:

The second clip features the rarely played but beautiful "Drive All Night," performed in Gothenburg, Sweden.

What do the Springsteen clips have to do with Christmas?  Not so much, really. But they both make me happy, and I wish the same for you, too.  See you in a few weeks, and Happy Labor Day, everybody!