Thursday, December 22, 2016

Let It Snow!, Part 8

Today, we take a quick look at four more tracks from my latest holiday mix, Let It Snow!

Track 27
Chanukah Prayer, by Carole King (2011)
Carole King
If you grew up in the 1970s, you knew Carole King's music, and, if you liked music at all, you probably owned a copy of her 1971 album "Tapestry." King first made a name for herself as a songwriter in the 1960s, writing a number of big hits for other artists including, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," a #1 hit for the Shirelles in 1960; "The Loco-Motion," a #1 hit for Little Eva in 1962 and Grand Funk in 1974; "Up on the Roof," a hit for The Drifters and, later, James Taylor; and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," which became a signature song for the great Aretha Franklin. Many of her songs were co-written by lyricist Gerry Goffin, her husband at the time. But King was not only a talented songwriter, but a terrific singer, too, and at the urging of James Taylor and others, she released an album of her own called "Writer" in 1970. That one didn't attract much attention, but the follow-up, "Tapestry," sure did, topping Billboard's Album chart for 15 consecutive weeks and remaining on the chart for over 300 weeks. At the 1972 Grammy Awards, King pulled off a rarely-seen hat-trick, winning awards for Best Song ("You've Got a Friend"), Record of the Year ("It's Too Late"), and Album of the Year ("Tapestry").

Of course, after a smash like "Tapestry," it's awfully hard to top yourself, and while she continued to release albums at a pretty good clip through the 1970s and '80s, King pretty much stopped making records in the early 1990s. It was pretty good news then when the word leaked out in 2011 that King's daughter, Louise Goffin, was working with her to prepare a holiday album, "A Holiday Carole." It's a wonderful album that spans a variety of musical styles, leaning heavily in favor of more contemporary songs, a number of which were hits for other artists. Interestingly, none of the songs are written by Carole herself, although Louise Goffin co-wrote several.

"Chanukah Prayer" is my favorite song on the album built around a traditional Jewish prayer. As King later explained,
Louise had the brilliant idea to take the Chanukah prayer that I learned from my parents, and they learned from their parents, and back through generations. She said 'I want to record you singing that and I'm going to build a track around it.
The result is a warm, jazz-inflected tune that brings together three generations on vocals: King, her daughter, and grandson. It could almost be the early 70s all over again.

Hear Carole King's "Chanukah Prayer"

Watch "The Making of 'A Holiday Carole'"

Track 26
Hark! The Angels Sing, by The Fab Four (2002)

When the history of rock-and-roll modern music is finally completed, few acts will loom quite so large as The Beatles, and when the history of Beatles Tribute Bands is definitively written, it will probably include a thing or two about The Fab Four. I previously included one of their tunes on "Is There Really a Santa Claus?" And there are a dozen or more yet to choose from.

Track 25
Ringo Deer, by Gary Ferrier (1964)

While I recall nothing about this phenomenon personally, I understand that large parts of our planet went a little crazy for the Beatles shortly after they started to become known. This enthusiasm manifested itself in various different ways, the best known of which is the non-stop shrieking of teenage girls whenever John, Paul George or Ringo was spotted. Another symptom was the rash of tribute songs recorded about the "Fab Four." Some of them had Christmas themes, many were about drummer Ringo Starr, and a few were Christmas-themed songs about Ringo. One can be found on my 2008 mix, "Home for the Holidays," and another is Track 25 on this year's mix.

I don't know an awful lot about this record, except that it was recorded by Garry Ferrier, a disc jockey for CHUM in Toronto and promoted by the Canadian arm of the Capitol Records publicity team. The lyrics aren't exactly bold or beautiful, but they're fun, as is the song — and the song's subject, too:
The North Pole’s all abuzz these days,
With news that’s really new,
Santa Claus has got a brand new reindeer now for you,
He's a swinging kind of reindeer and very, very rare,
Instead of antlers on his head,
He's got Beatle hair!
They call him Ringo, Ringo, Ringo Deer,
A Ring along  Ringo, Ringo, Deer,
Ringo, Ringo, Ringo Deer,
He's with Santa Claus this year.

I've got at least one more Ringo-themed Christmas song in my collection, so at least we've got that to look forward to!

Track 24
Christmas in the Country Radio Promo (Patriotism), by Van Trevor (1968)

This little number is from the same promotional record as Track 18, which I posted about several days ago. As I noted in my posting, I discovered this record on the now-defunct "Beware of the Blog" website created by community radio station WFMU in Jersey City, NJ. Interestingly enough, one of the four artists who added tracks to the mix, singer Lynda K. Lance, posted a comment to the piece that presented the audio:
Greetings, surprised you found this. we all moved to Nashville, Dick Heard, Van Trevor,Eddie Rabbitt & myself(right after HS graduation & Viet Nam)at the end of '68.Neil Bogart of Buddah(later Casablanca Records)was setting up a label(Royal American) in Nashville under Dick Heards management. Dick and Eddie were in Greenwich Village NY. Van & I met doing performances in the Northeast. this was Dicks idea to borrow something we all took part in regularly for the CMA, PSAs by country music entertainers held in recording studios on Music Row. we would all line up at the mike,a real cattle call, walk thru read copy, sometimes with call letters.that's when you got to hear Tex Ritter tell all his great old stories.glad to see so many collectors like me of info out there. ck my website to see new stuff...wanted to call project "not dead yet"...but wouldn't you know, it was taken! Lynda K.
Lynda's website can be found HERE.

Thirteen tracks left to go, which we could complete by Christmas Eve if we choose to. But I don't think that's in the cards. We'll get them done, but it will be sometime between Christmas and New Year's Day when we do it. Hope that's cool with you.

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