Tuesday, December 19, 2017

16.) The Christmas Waltz

Song number 16 is The Christmas Waltz by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne.  This song was written for Frank Sinatra and appears on three of his Christmas albums.  I came to enjoy the song last year during the holiday season.  

I'm a little ambivalent about including a Christmas song in the collection, but I have a few reasons for validating it.  First, the song is written by Cahn and Styne who were a famous songwriting team who wrote a lot of songs that I love and are standards hands down, such as I Fall In Love Too Easily and Time After Time.  So the composers fit the bill.  

Second, Christmas music has always been special music for me.  I not one of those who find it annoying,  especially the classic albums.  This time of year was magical when I was a kid.  And it probably was the most important time for music in our household.  It was played constantly from Thanksgiving until New Years, and it brought us a lot of cheer.  Standout Christmas albums from when I was a kid are The Beach Boys Christmas, John Denver's Rocky Mountain Christmas, and the Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas.  Now when I hear these albums they bring me back to childhood memories.  They make December feel a little more like it used to - exciting instead of busy as heck.

I worry a little that listeners might be annoyed to hear a Christmas song at other times of year, since it will be placed on an album of all different stuff.  But this song is not one of those Christmas songs like Rudolph or Jingle Bells that everybody recognizes instantly although it has been pretty widely recorded.  And for those that do know it well, my hope is that it will be a little reminder of winter when you hear it in July.  I've come enjoy these kind of seasonal reminders. 

In any case, I think it's a nice song.  I hope you enjoy it in this holiday season and beyond.  Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 11, 2017

15.) If I Loved You

This song is really beautiful.  I like it a lot.  It's from the musical Carousel by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.  I just heard the early Sinatra recording a couple months ago and I knew right then that I wanted to do the song for the project.  Listening out of context of the show, it's a sad beautiful song.

If I loved you
Time and again I would try to say
All I'd want you to know.

If I love you
Words wouldn't come in an easy way
'Round in circles I'd go. 

Longing to tell you
But afraid to try
I'd let my golden chances pass me by

Soon you'd leave me.
Off you would go in the mist of day.
Never, never to know
How I'd love you,
If I loved you.   

However, in context it's not so sad.  Both the female and male characters sing it to one another and then they totally start making out afterward.  So they do love each other, but they're not ready to admit or announce their love for each other yet.  I haven't seen the whole show but I was happy to see the scene that features this song on youtube.  

The majority of this arrangement was written while I was in Vals, Switzerland.  I was playing at the 7132 Hotel for a couple weeks.  It was a really beautiful place, and really nice to have a break from my usual life.  It was a retreat.  There is a lot one must do to keep a house.  But I have also become what one could call a homesteader.  I am very interested in having meaningful connections to my environment, land (even if only a 1/5 acre lot), and especially my food.  So in addition to the usual cooking, cleaning, maintenance, etc, I spend many hours doing things like gardening, chicken-keeping, fermenting, preserving, and farming.  I am a do-it-yourselfer; a jack of all trades.  And I love that.  But let me tell you, it cuts into your artistic time.  In Vals, I couldn't do any of those things.  I was miles away from my kitchen and my yard.  Suddenly confronted with an abundance of time, I first didn't know what to do with myself.  Pretty quickly I established a nice routine.  After breakfast, I'd do some chi kung, some mediation, some journaling, and some practicing.  After lunch I'd take a nice walk in the mountains, soak in the thermal baths for which the area is famous, practice a little more, then I'd play the gig in the evening.  I was able to write this entire arrangement of If I Loved You, memorize it, and finish the next arrangement as well.  

Coming back to regular life, it became even more obvious just how much time the necessities and the homesteading things take.  But I have to say, I wouldn't have it any other way.  I'm really happy with the path I'm on these days - I find a lot of meaning in it.  And it's okay with me that this project is taking so much longer than I originally anticipated.