It's Christmas Eve, everybody — that magical evening when many families around the world will be spending time together in anticipation of Christmas Day. I've got time to share just a little bit of background about the remaining three tracks on Be a Santa!, my holiday mix for 2021. I'll probably have some additional comments over the next few days before we close out this holiday season, but for now let me wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Here's some thoughts on Tracks 35-37 of this year's mix:
Peace at Least, Rotary Connection (1968)
The Chicago-based band Rotary Connection was founded in 1966 by Marshall Chess, the son of the founder of Chess Records. Most of the groups on the Chess label played either rock or blues and Marshall was hoping to lead his new group in a different direction. His wanted Rotary Connection to experiment with different styles of music, so he recruited musicians of varied backgrounds and styles to join, many pf whom had previously played with other Chess bands.
Among the last to join the new band was the label's receptionist, Minnie Riperton, who would later go on to have a successful solo career that was tragically cut short due to her death from cancer in 1979. Riperton, who topped Billboard's Hot 100 in 1975 with her hit "Lovin' You," was the mother of actress and comedienne Maya Rudolph.
As its founder had intended, Rotary Connection proved to be a difficult band to characterize, although a number of critics have described the group's style as "psychedelic soul." Unfortunately, the lack of a signature sound effectively limited the group's popularity and while their first two albums attracted attention in some quarters, neither sold especially well.
Their third album "Peace," released in late 1968, featured a collection of Christmas songs, nearly all of them original. True to form, the musical style of the album varies from one track to the next; however the emphasis on peace and love never wavers, and it made the album the perfect tonic for the end of traumatic year then winding down. "Peace" was only a modest success commercially, but in many homes its socially conscious message made it among the most consequential holiday albums ever recorded.
Every year, I have the same question
Something that puts me so very uptight
Where does Santa get all those gifts from
Why is he riding so late at night
I know why (I know why)
The kid is high (he's high)
The kid is stoned (stoned)
'Cause he smokes (mistletoe)
I said, I said he smokes (mistletoe)
Oh, he smokes (mistletoe)
Everyone should have a peace at least once a year
But he's an institution
We like him like he is
What would ever happen
If he gave some to the kids
The folks who sell you Gallo wine are really most sincereWhen we say "Merry Christmas and a Happy, Bright New Year!"Thanks to you and you and you — the friends of Gallo WineWe're lucky to have friends like youWe hope you're doing fineAll year long we tell you that Gallo can't be beatBut leave that for another time, right now let us repeatThanks to you and you and you — the friends of Gallo WineWe're lucky to have friends like youWe hope you're doing fine