Makes Me Wonder #1: The Yearling

The Yearling is a Hollywood classic and an adaptation of one of my favorite novels by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. It is the story of a 19th century pioneer family and their struggles to survive in the undeveloped Florida scrub.

I remember being so excited when the movie was finally released on DVD several years ago, and then the confusion I felt when I saw the cover graphics.

It makes me wonder . . . .

What genius at Warner Brothers designed the cover?

Has the graphic artist actually seen the movie?

And finally . . . .

When did God move the Grand Tetons to Florida?

I don’t know about you, but my summer vacation plans are set, now that the Rockies are so close to my home in the Sunshine State.

 

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Published in: on November 28, 2007 at 7:45 am  Comments (1)  
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Essential CD #1: Kenny Loggins . . . December

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Kenny Loggins: December is without question my favorite Christmas recording ever. In fact, it may very well be my favorite project of any genre. These are bold words, I know, but I mean them. This album touches me and moves me in a special way and, gospel music excluded, like no other music I can name.

This is the first November in recent years that I did not head up to my cabin in the North Georgia mountains for Thanksgiving week, and I am missing what has become a tradition of sorts. When I take the I-575 exit north of Marietta on my way to the cabin, I slip this CD in my changer and the music sweeps me away through the gray mists and autumn chill to my mountain home.

Tracks:

1) Walking in the Air – You don’t have to actually be in the high country to experience a snowy windswept peak. Just close your eyes and let the opening strains of this ethereal melody carry you away. This song was written by Howard Blake and originally recorded for the lovely animated short film based on Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman. In the liner notes for this track, Loggins thanks Blake for writing an additional verse for this recording.

2) The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) – A song that could be tiresome for the myriad of times it has been recorded, but not here. This holiday classic is a welcomed addition rather than an overdone old “chestnut,” sung here in Kenny’s inimitable tender, expressive vocals.

3) The Bells of Christmas – The first of Kenny’s four original tunes on this recording tells a bittersweet seasonal love story. I love the opening oboe and later the strings. The story reminds me of a Christmas novel I read aloud to my class several years ago and would make an excellent theme for the soundtrack if the book were ever to be adapted for the screen. What Child is This? by Caroline B. Cooney resonates every time I hear the bells of Christmas.

4) Coventry Carol – A 16th Century English carol + Kenny Loggins + David Crosby and Graham Nash. The sum of this equation has the smooth, tight harmonies you would presume.

5) Christmas Time is Here – A gentle piano opens and a bluesy harmonica winds its way through this modern Vince Guaraldi classic from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

6) Angels in the Snow – The second Loggins original tune on this project may well be my favorite. The opening oboe line is a moving lead-in, and the wistful melody often brings me to tears, especially after it builds and flows with Mervyn Warren’s lush background vocals into the chorus. I wonder if I could write another verse for my Jamaican angel, and call it Angels in the Sand . . . .

7) White Christmas – A simple, clean, arrangement with a nice sax solo. This is Loggins’ tribute to his father.

8) Some Children See Him – What a great lyric! I remember this song from the Goodyear Christmas records of the 60s. Loggins’ tender vocals does the song justice. I like James Taylor’s rendition as well.

Some Children See Him

Lyrics by Wihla Hutson and Music by Alfred S. Burt, 1951

Some children see Him lily white,
The baby Jesus born this night.
Some children see Him lily white,
With tresses soft and fair.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
The Lord of heav’n to earth come down.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
With dark and heavy hair.

Some children see Him almond-eyed,
This Savior whom we kneel beside.
Some children see Him almond-eyed,
With skin of yellow hue.
Some children see Him dark as they,
Sweet Mary’s Son to whom we pray.
Some children see him dark as they,
And, ah! they love Him, too!

The children in each different place
Will see the baby Jesus’ face
Like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace,
And filled with holy light.
O lay aside each earthly thing
And with thy heart as offering,
Come worship now the infant King.
‘Tis love that’s born tonight!

TRO © (renewed 1982) and 1957 (renewed 1985) Hollis Music, Inc., New York, NY International Copyright Secured. All Rights Reserved.

9) On Christmas Morning – The third Loggins original song is yet another moving favorite. The chord progressions always takes me from “Christmas present” to “Christmas past” and remind me how we all should feel every Christmas morning with the one(s) we love. Michael McDonald does a great rendition of this song as well on his first Christmas project.

10) Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Once again, Kenny takes a beloved holiday classic and makes it even more endearing than it was before.

11) December – Loggins writes an extended liner note for this track and puts it better than any reviewer can:

For many of us, the holidays are the most emotionally bitter-sweet time of the year, fluctuating from the highs of reunions and the rekindling of fond memories, to the lows of alienation and loneliness. At first glance, too often we’re fooled by the constant Christmas public relations into thinking everyone is having a wonderful time but us, a feeling as if we’re on the outside looking in.

The truth is, we all take turns feeling it all: not only the joys of Christmas, but also, at one time or another, the loneliness too. It is only by the love we give to each other that we reconnect, find the sense of belonging, of homecoming we so desperately crave. Christmas is the one time of year that tradition insists will not be ignored no matter how hard we try to modernize, commercialize, or trivialize her. She continues to remind us of our brotherhood, our responsibility to each other, and ultimately, our real connection to one another, no matter how alone we may feel. Because of Christmas;

“I still believe in magic”

“I still believe in miracles”

“I still believe in love”

This fourth and final original song is a fitting end to not just another holiday project, but rather the experience that is . . . Kenny Loggins: December.

The truth is, December is not your typical Christmas project from a mainstream artist. There is no Rudolph, or Frosty, or Santa, and thankfully not another recycled rendition of Mary, Did You Know. Like a stark, gray winter’s day, there is a trace of sadness that flows through the music as one track transitions into the next, but honestly, isn’t that the true bittersweet paradox of Christmas? I invite you to enjoy my favorite Christmas CD.

Additional Christmas Recordings Featuring Kenny Loggins

Celebrate Me Home from Kenny Loggins: Celebrate Me Home

December Makes Me Feel This Way from Dave Koz: Sounds of the Season

Starbright from Jim Brickman: Gift

Christmas Cometh Caroling from the compilation Christmas Classics

 

 

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Links:

Kenny Loggins: December Lyrics

Another Review of Kenny Loggins:December

Kenny Loggins Online Chat about December

KennyLoggins.com

Kenny Loggins: December at Amazon

Published in: on November 23, 2007 at 11:27 am  Comments (1)  
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