Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Epic Listening: More Great Christmas Music

Last year, I wrote about some of my favorite Christmas albums. I always refer to them as "Christmas" albums but many of the tunes are secular in nature. In any event, I am pleased to dip into the Epic stereo cabinet to submit a few more of my favorite seasonal selections for your consideration:

1. Louis Armstrong, The Christmas Collection.

You know, we just do not hear enough of Louis Armstrong any longer. This is a perfect Holiday album. Christmas in New Orleans has a particular poignancy in this post-Katrina era. Winter Wonderland and Cool Yule are also superb. Add in guest appearances by Mel Torme ["The Christmas Song/Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire"], Peggy Lee, Dinah Washington and the incomparable Lena Horne, and you have one memorable listening experience. Here is a recipe for Holiday success...one bottle of your favorite red wine, your favorite sofa, your favorite companion next to you on the favorite sofa, and this album. You can leave a little something in my stocking to thank me.

2. The Beach Boys, Christmas Album.

Because it has a cool cover. Because "Merry Christmas Baby", "Little Saint Nick" and their rendition of "Auld Lang Syne" are classic. Because perfect harmony is always lovely. And because at the beach it is Christmas too. This is a great album for easing back the Holiday stress level, California style.

3. Emmylou Harris, Light of the Stable.

During the rest of the year, there are songs from the Holiday season that can carry you through the dark places. Harris' version of the bluegrass classic "Christmas Time's A Comin' " is one of those songs. The rest of this album is perfect. A marvelous effort from one of the best vocalists ever.

3. John Denver, Rocky Mountain Christmas.

Another one of those songs that carry me through the year is "Aspenglow" from this album. It is easy to forget how great Denver's voice was now that we don't hear it on the radio so often. "Christmas For Cowboys" is another unique and lonesomely lovely song. Denver's rendition of "Jingle Bells" is also rollicking and fun. You can see his big happy grin in your mind when you listen to it. Skip the regrettable "Please Daddy Don't Get Drunk This Christmas" and you have a portal to a little town deep in the sparkling snow of the Rocky Mountains. That you can use all the year around.

4. Brian McKnight, I'll Be Home For Christmas.

In case you are not already familiar with Brian McKnight, he is perhaps the best young R & B voice out there. His album "Superhero" is one of my very favorite of this genre. He has a fine voice and his arrangements are suave. Check out his version of "Silver Bells" [can you tell that it is one of my favorites?] as well as the title track, an impressive cover of "Adeste Fideles" and "Bless This House" sung stunningly with the vocal group Take 6. Slide back up the page to my comments about being on the sofa with that special person and a bottle of wine. Make this album one of your musical choices for the event and you will still be there when Santa arrives.

5. Mariah Carey, Merry Christmas II You.

I tried not to like her. I really did. For years, I resisted her. Then, this year, I just gave in. I like Mariah's songs. There. I said it. Sanction me if you will. I love her rendition of "Christmas Time Is Here" from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Her original "Oh Santa!" is great fun as well. Yes, some of it is overproduced, but Mariah Carey has a pretty amazing vocal range and when she just sings a quiet song she sounds, well...., ok...., cuddly. There. I said that too. The album winds up strong with "All I Want For Christmas Is You" and a "pre and post midnight" version of "Auld Lang Syne" which is traditional [and cuddly] in the pre-midnight portion then jumps to a pounding club beat for the post-midnight portion. This is my favorite 2010 purchase for Christmas music [I already had the other albums in this post]. Why? Because sometimes you need to put down the Bordeaux and fill up a crystal glass with fizzy pink Champagne. Live it up. It's Christmas!!


CashmereLibrarian said...

I'd like to suggest another newie but goodie: Pink Martini's Christmas Album. Fun and cosmopolitan!

M.Lane said...

Oh I'll bet that IS fantastic! I love PM but I didn't know they had a Christmas album. I'm getting one.


Sandra said...

OH, these are great albums! Great to listen to these on an old hi-fi record player - scratches and all :-). xoxo

JohnP said...

Don't forget Vince Guaraldi's Christmas Time is Here. It is the sound track to the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Its great jazz even without the little round headed boy and his friends.
M.Lane - I suspect the Maria Carey album is included more for the cover art than for the content, but that's just a guess.

M.Lane said...

Preppy, I cant wait until they start making CDs that sound like LPs!! It cant be long off.

JohnP, that song from Charlie Brown is one of my all time favorites. And, I don't deny I love that MC cover. There. I said that too.

Thanks all for your visits and comments!