Thursday, November 1, 2012

Start Your New Year's Party Early with "Ringin' In a Brand New Year"

There's always been a certain tension between the Christmas and New Year's holidays -- a sibling rivalry, if you will. Separated by merely a week, they're typically seen as an indivisible package. Together, they serve to protect us from everyday life for at least a couple of weeks each year with a collective force that far exceeds their individual powers. Yet they are also indisputably unique -- one is pious, sentimental and child-like; the other secular, ribald, and free-wheeling. Little wonder then that each of these year-end holidays has its own canon of songs, and its own distinct set of cultural icons and ephemera.

My first New Year's mix was prompted by my discovery of two incredibly wonderful tunes one snowy afternoon in late 2007 while visiting my brother and his family at their home in Maine.  The first was Happy New Year, by Spike Jones and His City Slickers; and the second was Happy New Year, by Charlie Weaver.  Each of these songs was new to me, and they immediately raised my spirits.  In fact I remember singing them aloud as I shoveled and snowblowed my brother's long driveway several times that evening.  The mere fact that I'd volunteered for outside work during a Nor'Easter speaks volumes about my good mood at the time. Anyway, it was a relatively easy matter to find enough additional New Year's material to fill a CD, and by the time I returned to Los Angeles on December 30, my first New Year's mix was recorded and ready to go.

I've kept my eyes and ears open for additional New Year's material over the past five years, and by last Fall I had at least 50 strong candidates for a follow-up mix. But it wasn't until recently that I felt any particular interest in preparing something.  Once I started, however, the whole thing came together quickly, and I'm pleased with the result, which is titled Ringin' In a Brand New Year!  There are 30 tracks altogether, and the complete mix lasts just under 70 minutes. As with my annual Christmas mixes, "Ringin' In a Brand New Year" is a mish-mash of wildly different styles, and it features songs and music interspersed with celebrity greetings, spoken features and short comedy bits.  This mix opens with what I believe to be the oldest recording I've used in any of my mixes to date -- a 1912 recording of a New Year's Medley performed by The Prince's Orchestra, one of the most successful musical acts of that time.  Also included are songs by Death Cab for Cutie, Tom Waits and The Dismemberment Plan, and historical snapshots such as the audio track of the following broadcast from Times Square as Ben Grauer welcomed viewers of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show to the start of 1966:

My latest New Year's mix is now available for download for a limited time from my holiday music website.  You can download the mix as a single .mp3 file or as a zip file containing 30 individual tracks.  You can also download a track list, CD label and jewel box insert, and you can listen to the first nine or ten minutes of the mix from the website itself.  Enjoy the mix, and Happy New Year!

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