Showing posts with label Christmas Mix. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas Mix. Show all posts

Monday, December 25, 2023

My Favorite Songs of 2023

Merry Christmas everyone! As this is the last Monday Monday Music™ blog of the year, I want to thank all my loyal readers for tuning in every week to read and listen to a brand new playlist of music every week!

2023 marks the third straight year that I have published a blog every Monday for a 52 week calendar year. This year may have been a little skimpy on the word count for a typical week as I have taken on more duties with D&D Learning Spaces™ as their Learning Environment Designer. 

I just want to give a quick shout out to my boss Dean Smith and his wonderful staff for making this a very rewarding year from a work perspective. After all these years, I still have the drive to design K-12 learning spaces with schools and Dean has given me the opportunity to express my creativity with educators while working with an exceptional group of furniture and technology collaborators. I am so blessed and thankful for this opportunity! 

This year with the full-time work gig kicking in, I started writing many a blog post on a Saturday or Sunday morning (like this one), but stayed true to the music playlists as they typically take several weeks to put together. My Favorite Songs of 2023 is a compilation of my favs taken from 11 months of my #NewMusicMondays playlists. I'm so thankful for the Monday Monday Music listeners who have taken the time to actually go through or even skip through a playlist that I have created. This year, I feature mostly songs from 16 new albums worth listening to.

This year, I added 60 Years of Music to cover the 1960's and the best decade of music ever produced in my opinion. Then, I continue 50 Years of Music to cover the 1970's, and #NewMusicMondays to keep you exploring new songs from young and older artists. A special hats off to The Rolling Stones for making an album in 2023 (Hackney Diamonds) of all new songs. 

Music is art and like all art we each have our own tastes. I don't expect everyone to like my typical mix of rock 'n' roll and Americana (or what we used to call Folk music). I do think that in every playlist I create, there is at least one or a couple of songs that make it to your heart. It may be an old tune from the last century, or it may be a new tune you discover today in the playlist. In any event, music is powerful. It's something that we take with us whether you are listening to a digital device or playing a song in our head. 

I also want to take a moment to thank my wife, Mary Kit and our blended-family for just being the wonderful people they are. All of us are busy, but I appreciate that we all work together to keep it all together for the combined five children, their spouses and our nine grandchildren. I think that the grandkids think that Yellow Submarine is my favorite song of all-time, and I'll will keep that going as long as they believe in Santa Claus. Someday, we'll have the talk about Penny Lane

This past week, Mary Kit and I took our three grandsons, Cole, Brendan and Drew to the Corvette Diner that has all the walls filled with paintings of the rock 'n' roll stars from the 50's and 60's. We had a great discussion of band members now dead or still alive. The conversation centered on two large paintings near us of The Rolling Stones and The Who. Now this got a bit tricky with Brian Jones and Keith Moon and our nine-year twins, as I kept it general. But, the boys just couldn't understand how adult Brian Jones could have drowned alone in his own swimming pool? I moved on to the painting of The Supremes. Anyway, there was a live DJ there and he played upon my request, Jumping Jack Flash and I Can See For Miles. He said, "These songs go out to the Wagner boys who are coming for my job!" I was born in a crossfire hurricane...            

As I say at the end of most of my posts, "Enjoy the playlist my friends." And... if I don't know you personally, but you've found your way here and listened to a song or two here, you're certainly a friend of mine!

Merry Christmas and let's all just practice a little more kindness in 2024, it can change everything.

Now here's a great little mix of album-oriented favs from 2023. Enjoy the playlist my friends!

And hey, let's not let the dust settle quite yet on my Christmas Mix 2023. 
It will make for great background music throughout this merry day!

Monday, December 04, 2023

Christmas Mix 2023

  Christmas Mix

2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2021 • 2022 • 2023

My kind of people are kind people
My kind of people are kind 
If you got a good heart
That’s a good start
If you want to be a friend of mine
Rich or broke, drink or smoke, to me it’s all Pepsi/Coke
Whatever floats your boat is fine 
My kind of people are kind people
My kind of people are kind
Maia Sharp, Kind

We live in complicated times in 2023. Lots of hatred going around this country and world to make us look in the rear view mirror and see authoritarians wanting to pull up next to us at the crossroads, again.

This Christmas season I suggest Americans watch World War II movies. Maybe we need the constant reminder that democracy is not to be taken for granted. 

I guess as a white male, I've never really used the term, "my people" in any context that I can remember. When I first heard Maia Sharp's song, Kind it really spoke to me. We can pick sides on all kinds of issues and events, but maybe for those people who pick kindness as their only rule, well then peace and democracy will follow. Just maybe, complex problems require simple actions.

This holiday season and going into next year, I'm thinking I need to feel, think and demonstrate kindness to others. And, if you want to hang with me, I guess we can say together, "Our kind of people are kind."

Happy Christmas my friends and enjoy this new alternative mix of December songs over the next several weeks!

Monday, December 05, 2022

Christmas Mix 2022

 Christmas Mix
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[Verse 5]
At the still point of destruction
At the center of the fury
All the angels, all the devils
All around us, can't you see?

There is a deeper wave than this
Rising in the land
There is a deeper wave than this
Nothing will withstand

I said, love is the seventh wave
I said, love is the seventh wave
I said, love is the seventh wave

Love is the Seventh Wave, Sting

I've always had an affinity for Sting's positive view of the world in Love is the Seventh Wave, and since Santa is love, I'd thought I'd sync these two big ideas for the 8th annual Christmas Mix Playlist!

Christmas rests at the end of the year for good reason. Coupled with Halloween's fun in October, Thanksgiving's reflections in November, Christmas is a celebration of comfort and joy. It is also a celebration of overcoming adversity. You've toiled all year, time to kick back, eat, drink and spend some more cash on the people you love. 

The three holidays like the three wise men have their own built-in economy. Many small businesses survive in the red and then, the last quarter gets them back in the black to turn the corner and start a new year, just to do it all over again.

Christmas is a time for dreaming. Christmas is also a time for big thinking and coming together.

I was thinking about hate the other day and where it come from? I then thought about Atticus Finch, the lead character from, To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus was a big thinker in a small town. 

Prejudice comes from everywhere and touches everyone. But, we often stereotype prejudice coming from small minds in small towns. Not that everybody from a small town is a bumpkin, but small places often can be a safe nesting place for small/closed-minded thinking. I grew up in a small town. 

My parents were wonderful people who gave me a wonderful childhood and took care of me. I couldn't ask for more. But growing up, I often felt small, not encouraged to dream big, to think big. "Doug, play it safe, don't attract attention to yourself." I was never told those exact words, but I felt them. 

Christmas can be a two-edged sword, a time for hope or a time of loneliness. But more than anything, Christmas allows all of us to think a little more outside of ourselves. It's the time of year for "Peace on earth, goodwill to men." Charities also survive to live another year, thanks to Christmas.

You can believe anything you want religiously, spiritually or materialistically or even, believe that you don't believe. But make no mistake, most all of us all believe in the positivity of Santa. Santa is love. He may have evolved from a Christian holiday, co-opted from a pagan holiday, but I've come to embrace Santa as the saint of big thinking. He has a large job to fulfill every year with lots of helpers. Santa is inclusive, he's secular with no hidden agenda. Santa can be for anyone from any religion, he's just there to make the world a happier place by giving.

This Christmas has me thinking about all the small-thinking politicians and pundits in the media, spreading hate and encouraging and influencing our citizens to think-small

Even Santa Larry pictured here gets his share of hate online these days but in his ever positive spirit, says it's a small number, but for those haters out there, "They might be getting coal in their stockings this year." 

So, let's go back to the top, with Santa riding the big wave. I love this picture because if Santa can hop on a sled of reindeer and ride across the sky to every little boy and girl's house on Christmas Eve, he surely can be a big-wave rider too! 

So this next year, be a Santa surfer, be nice and be patient. Any surfer will tell you, when a set of waves roll in, don't go for the first or second wave. Push up on your board (or Boogie Board) to see what's ahead, then paddle hard through or over the smaller waves because there's a bigger ride coming your way. Turn yourself around, get ready, paddle hard and catch that sucker.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 06, 2021

Christmas Mix 2021

Christmas Mix
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When I started to Photoshop the original photograph above into my own visually-sampled graphic, I thought of the lyrics to Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. However, I screwed up the second line and wrote in caps, "May your days be bright." Here's the first verse-

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on
Our troubles will be out of sight

Christmas time is a mixed bag, it can be full of bright days and dark days. I'm not here to tell anyone how to feel, to put on a smile and be of "good cheer." I do hope that this season finds you in a good place as I wish all my readers bright days ahead. I've taken my little screw up to heart by embracing it as is.

Now the Christmas Mix this year is typical of my past mixes, mostly positive songs mixed with a few 'dark days' songs just to keep it real. My favorite two in this vein are Burn Down This Town by Rosanne Cash and Something Good Coming by Tom Petty.

My wife's favorite, Carol Of The Bells by John Williams from Home Alone is tucked in its traditional second track spot for this seventh edition. Beatles songs are always sprinkled and clustered about. I've also included some interesting video clips to help round out the spirit of my little yin-yang thing. I will say, Europe makes the best Christmas commercials these days. 

Kelly Clarkson wins best break-up song of the year with her, Christmas Isn't Canceled (Just You) (in a year of notable breakup themed albums including, Kacey Musgraves and Adele). 

Here are a couple of my favorite things that struck me about this new Christmas song.

First off, I found Clarkson's 'Official Lyric Video' of the song on Youtube and busted a gut for a completely different reason than Kelly's breakup response with her husband. Look at the graphic below from the video - Who does the young smug cad in a top hat remind you of?

The young Donald playing the part?
Is it just me... or is this a spitting (and I mean spitting) image of the young ass, Donald Trump!

The graphic with his expressionless dour face complete with the little yellow duck-tail over his collar is perfect. Not only is the graphic perfect, but then juxtapose it with Kelly's lyrics, and what a great new song this becomes. I can't believe this video is an accident, jeez I can't be the only one who sees this?  This video is funny as hell to me.

Second, Christmas Isn't Canceled (Just You) also touched a chord within my heart regarding the shallowness of most Christmas music over the decades, and the fact that many of these songs are dependent on being with a husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend. Mariah Carey's 1994, All I Want For Christmas Is You comes to mind and has become a Christmas standard that carries the torch as a traditional classic. Sorry, I'm just the guy at Thanksgiving that's sick of turkey after six decades and just wants a little variety in my holiday meals and music. For me, Christmas Isn't Canceled (Just You) becomes a fresh 21st century contrast, a bright new day for women not needing to be dependent on a man for their happiness.

Okay, the last thing about this song that is absolutely self-empowering and hilarious at the same time is these two verses setting up this last line - 

Lost at first
Thinking that I might (I might)
Be cursed
Winter wonderlands weren’t made for one
So we’ve all been told since we were young

Ooh oh oh 

But I’m not feelin’ incomplete (feelin’ incomplete)
Turns out I don’t need a thing underneath my tree

Oh my, you go girl!

Now if you've only experienced my Youtube playlists on your phone, this time around you may want to watch it on your tablet or computer or better yet, use theYouTube app on your smart TV device. I have included a lot of videos in this mix. Here's my YouTube Channel if you would like to Subscribe.

Happy Festivus from Mary Kit & Doug


Monday, December 07, 2020

Christmas Mix 2020

Christmas Mix
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Santa Santa, Surfin' Santa Claus
Here he comes, Here he comes
Surfin' Santa Claus
Bringin' toys for girls and boys
Surfin' Santa Claus
–Joe Lubin & Stan Stan Stenner

Sometime in the middle of the year, I usually create a YouTube Playlist called Christmas Mix for that year and just start squirreling away traditional and alternative songs that I think would make a good mix with no general theme in mind. I have one general goal with the Mix- to be a little different and always make Christmas a little more inclusive no matter one's belief system. With that said, it should be noted that a lot of great artists have made some terrible Christmas albums over the years, and a streaming playlist is one remedy to broaden the category of 'Christmas Music.'

Being from San Diego, my first idea for this year was a Surfin' Santa theme. Then I started looking for a good graphic. When I found the 'Merry Christmas 1942' graphic above it had everything I wanted, a traditional Coca-Cola® Santa surfing, and then a new thought, 1942- with all the great musicians born that year.

The class of '42 includes: Paul McCartney, Aretha Franklin, Brian Wilson, Carole King, Jimi Hendrix, Graham Nash, Leon Russell, Barbara Streisand, and Roger McGuinn. I've included at least one song from my short list of musical greats born that year, and if you're interested, here's a complete list of musicians and singers born in 1942. 

Also, I can't ignore the elephant in the room, the original 1942 release of Irving Berlin's White Christmas by Bing Crosby, the #1 selling single of all-time with more than 50 million sales alone. 

This is all a bit ironic for me as when I started the Christmas Mix in 2015, I tried to generally avoid the sappy standards with White Christmas being at the top of the list. For me it's like eating turkey every year at Thanksgiving since my birth. I can imagine my dad saying to my mom when I'm a baby, "Fern just put a slice in the blender, he'll be fine." Anyway, I just got to the point where I couldn't take turkey anymore, same for White Christmas.  I get this 1942 idea from the graphic and low and behold, White Christmas is released that year. So, I start reading about White Christmas, and then I read this about Bing Crosby.

According to Crosby's nephew, Howard Crosby, "I once asked Uncle Bing about the most difficult thing he ever had to do during his entertainment career… He said in December, 1944, he was in a USO show with Bob Hope and the Andrews Sisters. They did an outdoor show in northern France… he had to stand there and sing 'White Christmas' with 100,000 G.I.s in tears without breaking down himself. Of course, a lot of those boys were killed in the Battle of the Bulge a few days later." Wikipedia

Sweet Jesus, that made me cry too. So Irving and Bing, I yield the space here, thinking of all the babies born during war, and their dads fighting around the world wishing they were home with their families. 

It should also be noted that today is as Franklin Roosevelt told congress, "December 7, 1941- a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." The attack on Pearl Harbor thrust us into World War II, and changed our country overnight. White Christmas coming out the following year was a song we needed to hear as a nation and the world needed too. The lyrics, I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, Just like the ones I used to know, were in 1942, as impactful as any song that's ever been recorded. The history and power of this song endures.


Then, I thought about the babies born this year in the time of coronavirus. My granddaughter was born April 17, 2020. This virus is a different kind of war, but a worthy advisory nevertheless. Somehow our country has to band together as if we are in a world war against fascism, everybody on the same page working for our victory, all together. 

As a war baby himself, Paul McCartney grew up reading the British children's comic strip and books, Rupert Bear. In 1984, Paul wrote the song, We All Stand Together, arranged and produced by George Martin and made into a short film about Rupert Bear. The song has just been released again with the animated video and included here in my playlist Mix in several versions. 

These World War II children knew a thing about banding together in a crisis and maybe a reason, they're the greatest generation of rock 'n' roll. Sir Paul was no exception, and even if this song's about frogs, you'll feel the bond, like a lot of his work. His lyrics have now come back around in 2020 and a perfect theme for this season and moving forward together during this difficult time. I also have to think this generation of children are maybe special too, and will know how to stand together when the chips are down when they are the decision-makers.

Win Or Lose, Sink Or Swim
One Thing Is Certain We'll Never Give In
Side By Side, Hand In Hand
We All Stand Together

Play The Game, Fight The Fight
But What's The Point On A Beautiful Night?
Arm In Arm, Hand In Hand
We All Stand Together

Keeping Us Warm In The Night
La La La La
Walk In The Night
You'll Get It Right

Win Or Lose, Sink Or Swim
One Thing Is Certain We'll Never Give In
Side By Side, Hand In Hand
We All Stand Together
–Paul McCartney 

This has been a rough year for many who have been laid off or lost their small business in the time of coronavirus. However, we begin this coming new year with a fresh start with great hope and energy that will carry our people and country to a better place. 

In good times or bad, music has alway been central to Christmas time as it can take us to a place, the want for peace, comfort and joy, to dream the dream. My Christmas Mix is always a kitchen sink of tunes but I tried to find some songs this year that have that spirit of people needing people to get us through anything if we stick together. 

I like to also think my Christmas Mix might even spark an interesting conversation around the Christmas dinner table, or distanced smartphone video call this year-  
  • Why does Uncle Dave (an atheist) love gospel music?
  • Is eggnog still a thing? Why can't I just have a White Russian?
  • Do you care if someone says, "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas?" Who gives a rat's ass in 2021? And who really cares about gay people marrying? Oh yeah... those people.
  • Winter Soltice and Christmas, Spring Equinox and Easter, is that timing just a big coincidence? "Hey Uncle Dave, grandma says 'Pagan' is a bad word?"
  • Beyoncé, Queen B? Sorry their's only one Queen and that's Retha, period.
  • Why does mom always tear up when Carol of the Bells comes on? 
Here's wishing you and your family a Happy Christmas and better days this New Year as we give thanks for the good people around us, no matter our beliefs.

Stay well my friends, and mask-up. We all stand together.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Christmas Mix 2019 - Going Home

Christmas Mix
2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2021 • 2022

This is the 5th anniversary of my Christmas Mix Playlist! I've linked all the previous mixes right here, so you'll be covered for the holidays. As always, my Christmas Mix is a blend of traditional and non-traditional music because after 60+ years of listening to Bing and Nat, ya gotta mix it up.

I remember Paul Simon talking about the song Kodachrome many years ago and his inspiration for writing the song was not photography but rather the sound of the phrase 'going home,' now say, "Kodachrome," and there's another hit from Rhymin' Simon. If there ever was a color film for the holidays, it was Kodachrome. It was my film of choice until this digital stuff took over...

One of the central themes of Christmas is in fact, going home. Children have Santa with all the presents under the Christmas tree, but adults get a holiday theme too- the loneliness, and/or longingness to be back home with family, friends, and possibly that one person you love more than anything.

Since vinyl records became popular in the 1940's, songwriters have created countless hits using the 'going home' theme. In 1943 and in the middle of World War II, Bing Crosby's hit, I'll Be Home For Christmas was written for the soldiers longing to be home at Christmas. It remains today a Christmas standard sung by countless singers that still can elicit tears... I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.

McKee Anderson DeVoe
Here's a current shout out to McKee Anderson DeVoe who just graduated from Marine Boot Camp down here in San Diego at MCRD and is currently stationed at Camp Pendleton. Mary Kit and I attended the ceremony with his proud dad Bill and his family, and we all wish him the best in the days, months and years ahead as a proud Marine!

This past week I headed up the coast to my OG hometown, Santa Maria, CA. I spent Thanksgiving with my mom, brother and sisters in the house we all lived in growing up. It was nice for all of us to be back together again under the same roof on Tunnell Street. I'll be home for Christmas this year in San Diego with my girls and grandkids. I cherish everyday with all my family spread out across California and Washington.

Happy Holidays to all , and may your days be filled with good spirits and cheer wherever you are!

Also, a very special Merry Christmas wish to Ray Zieman who is in his 95th year and truly one of the finest human beings on the planet. Ray spent his career at Kodak and did some incredible top secret work with the military for Kodak at Vandenberg Air Force Base to keep our country safe. Merry Christmas Ray, Ron and Retta too!

Yesterday's sunrise on the mystical 'Ventura Highway' just out of Santa Barbara, going home to San Diego.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Mix 2015

Christmas Mix
2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2021 • 2022

If it is a question of hope, love is the answer.
If it is a question of fear, love is the answer.

I was going to rattle off about ten, I will stop at two, you get the point. But, go ahead do a couple on your own...

Some may say, way too simplistic, a Christmas time answer. Maybe I'm just a simple guy, but Christmas presents us the essential question, How do we make peace on earth, goodwill to men? The answer is a process of love for us all. For me, it did not come from my Christian upbringing, it came from the eclectic experiences in this world and learning that it would be up to me to create my own acts of goodwill.

Christmas is a time to reflect. No matter your religion, non religion or spirituality, think of Christmas in America as the space in time where love becomes less confined. It provides an opening, to give beyond ourselves, to help people. Hopefully, our thoughts and actions of goodwill go beyond the Christmas bubble and we make a positive difference in the lives we touch, throughout the year. Music helps too. It provides a wonderful conduit to the process of understanding that leads to peace.

I want to end this year's Monday Monday Music blog with mostly an acoustic spirit of traditional and non traditional Christmas time music. Merry Christmas to all.