Thursday, December 22, 2011

Our little traditions

This time of year is marked and observed by traditions. Some of us may not even realize that we have them. But if you watch "A Christmas Story" every Christmas Eve, you have one. If you put up holiday lights every year, you have a tradition. There may be changes within, but...

For instance, after my father built his house in the late 1950's, we used to put up lights around the windows that fronted the street every year. He had planned on it, and had built in places to plug the lights in for every affected window. For a couple of years, we would get yards of laurel, wrap it around each set of lights, and using a twist tie kind of method with preset eyelets, put up the lights. As the pace of life changed and made such tasks too involved, he solved the problem by creating special wooden window frames, painted green, on which the lights were permanently fixed. All that remained to do was add the laurel and use the hook eye sets to put them up. Quick, easy efficient. It was even quicker after laurel became expensive and was no longer used. But the central idea was one of the traditions we had. There were also 3 light candelabrum which were put in each of the windows. There was an electrical outlet under each window, and the top slot of each was turned on and off by the room's light switch if one so desired.

One of the traditions here in Brattleboro is actually across the river in New Hampshire. Many long years ago, a local boy-scout working for a merit badge, created a large star to put up facing town on the top of Mount Wantastiquet.  It uses large #10 sized tin cans to hold light-bulb sockets (and act as reflectors), each illuminating a point on the star. It plugs into a microwave tower related building that is there. The local troop hikes up there to relight it in early December every year. It is truly a light in the darkness, a candle burning in the window. And, it's just plain neat.

This morning, I was searching for something on YouTube when I noticed a little holiday bonus which I hope becomes a tradition. After a video starts playing, a snowflake appears at the bottom of the streaming window. It is clickable. Of course, I am posting a sample video so you can try it out. So, here's a medley of songs which originally appeared on the Phil Spector monaural sonic spectacular long playing album, "A Christmas Gift for You" as performed by two of that record's performers, Ronnie Spector and the great Darlene Love.

A word of warning: your chin is likely to drop to your chest when you start watching this. Please try to remember to click on the snowflake by the time Ms. Love starts belting "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)".

And one further note, regarding Ms. Darlene Love. I fell in love with that woman's voice as I was growing into the start of my teenage years way back when. Today I Met the Boy I'm Gonna Marry. He's a Rebel. And so many others. Even during her "stardom", The Blossoms, the group she joined as a teenager, performed as session and touring back up singers for everybody from Sam Cooke to Elvis Presley. She was almost at the top of the pop business when the British Invasion changed American music, and she had a falling out with Phil Spector. "River Deep, Mountain High" was created for Darlene Love. The story has it that he was mad at her so he gave the song to Tina Turner, whom it made famous. In 1986, there was a Broadway revue format musical based on the life of songwriter Ellie Greenwhich. Ms. Love played herself. And, she got to sing "River Deep..."  Hers is the only rendition I ever heard that beat Tina Turner at anything. Every year now since 1986 when she was in New York doing the show and they first got her to do it, Darlene Love has appeared on the last live David Letterman show before Christmas. As the program's finale and Christmas present to all, she and Paul Shaffer and the band perform "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)". This will be the 25th year they've done it. The song, one of the last three great pop Christmas songs created in my lifetime, was written in 1963 for Ronnie Spector, but Phil felt it needed someone stronger and gave it to Darlene instead. She still performs it like it's nobody's business. I look forward to her performance of it every year. It's one of my rituals, my traditions of the season. She'll be on the Letterman show tomorrow night, Friday December 23rd, 2011 if you care to join me, and I do hope you will.

By the way, a shameful oversight was corrected this year, 2011, when Darlene Love was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Austan said...

I'm missing one tradition this year, your Christmas radio show. :(

sdt said...

Awwww, thanks sweetie!
I miss doing it.

Austan said...

Just watched Darlene Love, forgot to breathe. Damn.