Cool Yule Sounds

24 12 2013

Christmas Song Pics

Have I mentioned that I love, love, love Christmas music?

I also love lists, and I’ve been counting down my personal favorite holiday tunes for my loyal social media peeps for a few weeks.  Here’s my entire list with some elaboration. Some new, some old. Some world standards, some local Philly talent.

And all fun. All mine. Hope you enjoy…

20. “Merry Christmas from the Family” ~ Dixie Chicks – Country music, controversial band, and Rosie O’Donnell. Yeah… Even I’m shaking my head at this one!! But I like it. It’s funny, and it says more about America than any other holiday song. Love it.

19. “Christmas Wrapping” ~ The Waitresses – Some would say one-hit-wonder, but the Waitresses had some great songs in the eighties. The sharp, distinctive voice of Patty Donahue was silenced by cancer during the 1996 holiday season, but the song remains. It was always cool to me that a “new wave” song became such a holiday standard.

18. “Do They Know It’s Christmas” ~ Band Aid – Everyone knows the story of the Boomtown Rat’s Bob Geldof watching a news report in 1984 about the famine in Ethiopia, then phoning Ultravox’s Midge Ure about the idea for the this song and later the Live Aid concerts. Band Aid was a who’s who of British pop music at the time, and the song alone raised millions for African relief. It all worked because this is a really great song and recording. It was the first “cause song” and the process is repeated today.

17. “Step Into Christmas” ~ Elton John – One my earliest remembrances of a cool, rock and roll Christmas song, and it’s Elton at his campy best!  I was, and still am, a big fan. My first concert in 1976, he’s still bringing it…

16. “The Hanukkah Songs” ~ Adam Sandler – All three versions. Funny as hell, and you have to admire the rhyming of harmonica with Natalie Portmanica.

15. “Merry Christmas, Baby” ~ Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – There’s another, more popular Bruce choice, but I like this live recording for it’s bluesy feel, and because it really showcases the band at it’s subtle and powerful best.

14. “Blue Christmas” ~ Elvis Presley – This song was recorded as country western, first in 1948. But Elvis added the bluesy sound in 1957 and like many other songs, made it his own. The only better version belongs to Porky Pig… go find that nugget!

13. “All I Want For Christmas Is You” ~ Olivia Olsen – Co-written by Mariah Carey (seriously?), the seemingly endless cover versions of this song missed my radar until it showed up in the climactic ending of Love Actually, one of my favorite holiday movies. This version rocks, and its sung by an 11 year-old!! Incredible!!

12. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” ~ Leon Redbone and Zoey Dechanel – From the Elf soundtrack. Discounting the comparisons to date rape, the sweet voice of Zoey in sharp contrast to Leon’s ten-packs-a-day, throaty growl. “Gee, your lips look delicious!”

11. “Happy Xmas (War Is Over) ~ John Lennon – No one in my generation preached more about peace on earth… he was a calm voice in tumultuous times. Of my favorites, and it is the simplest and most powerful.

10. “Christmas In America” – Melissa Etheridge – One of our country’s best kept secrets… Etheridge probably never gets her due because of her sexuality, and that’s a shame. This is easily the most powerful song about missing your loved one at the holidays.

9. “Christmas Time Is Here” ~ Vince Guaraldi Trio – Better know as the “Theme from A Charlie Brown Christmas”, it’s instantly recognizable as the soundtrack of a kids holiday experience. Can’t you see Snoopy dancing?

8. “The Chipmunk Song” ~ The Chipmunks – This song brings back more memories of growing up than any other. The Chipmunks were on every kids Christmas playlist back in the day. We had a record player with a detachable speaker lid that my Mom would put out on the front steps, playing Christmas music for the neighborhood. It had a very distinctive smell when the tubes got hot… I’ll never forget it. I’m a kid again…

7. “White Christmas” ~ Bing Crosby, and “The Christmas Song” ~ Nat King Cole – A tie because I wasn’t going to say that I liked one more than the other. Both songs define the word “standard” for holiday music. Everyone sings along. And… I want a white Christmas so badly!!

6. “Christmas Baby” ~ G Love & Special Sauce – I always like to give props to local artists, and these guys are one of my favorites. Some call it “sloppy” blues… but it’s Philly all the way. Give it a listen…

5. “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” ~ The Whirling Dervishes – Never mess with a classic, unless you can make it better… and they do! I’m a big fan of cover songs, and this version is cleaner and a brings a lot more energy. It beats the Boris Karloff version we all know and love – and these guys are from NJ!! Enjoy!

4. “Christmas On The Block” – Alan Mann Band – Legend has it that rising Philadelphia rock star Alan Mann heard of a group house for the blind on a street in Upper Darby. Every Christmas, the residents would decorate a tree in front of their house, and neighbors would often say that it was the most beautifully decorated tree on the block. Although they could not see, the residents wanted to give an annual gift to those who could. The story inspired Mann to visit the house and record the song, with the moving chorus sung by second-grade students. This video got plenty of MTV play in 1986, and Mann seemed ready for stardom.

Tragically, Alan Mann died in a house fire in 1987, but his beautiful song lives on. For many of my Philly peeps who made their musical bones in the 80’s, this song IS Christmas.

3. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen / Star of Wonder” ~ Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan – Smart, funny lyrics and snappy, inventive sounds have always been the trademark of BNL. They made this classic Christmas carol their own… and the sweet voice of Sarah McLachlan only adds to the brilliance.

2. “Fairytale of New York” ~ The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl – I often say that the Christmas season does not start until I hear “Fairytale of New York”. This is song is classic for me on so many levels… it’s an Irish American love story, with grit and optimism, sadness and joy. Raw power masked by simplicity, it may be the most beautiful, heartfelt song ever written…

“I’ve got a feeling this year’s for me and you. So Happy Christmas, I love you, baby. I can see a better time when all our dreams come true.”

Since 1987, it has been my favorite Christmas song, until…

1. “Great Big Sled” ~ The Killers with Toni Halliday – I’m a big kid. I long for simpler days, when life was not so complicated. As a parent, I watched helplessly as my boys lost their wonder and excitement for Christmas and the joy it brings. We all do, but it certainly happened more quickly for them than me.

This song wants to take me back to that time when I can “roll round like a kid in the snow”… And I really want to go!

To all of my friends… thank you for reading my silly little blog posts this year. Play lots of great music this holiday season, and sing along loudly!

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!


Missing My Baseball

19 08 2013

1971 Topps #598 Wise

I love the sport of baseball.  I just don’t like it lately…

Some of my best memories from growing up in the 60’s and 70’s have to do with baseball.  I played ball from ages 5 to 15 at my local youth organization.  After that I still had some choose-up games with friends, and then played softball into my late twenties. These were great times… Harry Kalas’ silky smooth voice on the radio, sitting behind that pillar at Connie Mack Stadium, watching Rick Wise’s no-hitter in my basement on that small b&w TV… with my Dad.

I’ve said before that one of the worst things about getting older is that you can’t get enough guys for a 9v9 baseball game. Even worse is watching the game that is played today.  I miss the game of my youth, so here’s MY list of some of the things that I think are wrong with baseball… maybe other sports as well.  In no particular order…

Performance Enhancing Drugs – It would be easy for me to point to Alex Rodriguez and make him the poster boy for this issue.  But MLB had a “nod, nod, wink, wink” attitude towards PEDs from the beginning. It’s funny now to see them come down so hard on players when they let it happen for so many years.  Any entry in the baseball record book in the last 30 years has been rendered meaningless. While I’m not suggesting that all players achieved success with a boost, you just never know for certain. And by the way… A-Rod is still a douche bag.

Free Pete – Cut the bullshit, Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame.  The absence of one of the top five players in history diminishes the institution.  He’s not O.J. Simpson, who’s still in Canton, by the way…

I’m Pro DH – Bring doubleheaders back. Lots of them. And not the day/night crap either. Screw what the player’s union says… they are getting paid millions of dollars to play a kids game.  Two games in one afternoon won’t kill them.

I’m Anti DH – Lose the designated hitter. Pitchers are ballplayers and should be made to hit. And if you can’t play the field anymore, its time to retire. But why stop there? Let’s have courtesy runners for players who can’t run the bases.  Maybe let them hit off a tee when the hand-eye coordination starts to go. The only thing that the DH rule accomplished was taking a good deal of strategy out of the game. There is nothing more beautiful than a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt… a lost art in the majors.

Jewelry – Oh good God, what is with the jewelry?  Seriously?  I guess those rope things are fashion statement that I am missing.  But wait a doggone minute… I’m reading now that the ropes “stabilize your electric current inside the body” by “allowing the flow of energy.”  Sounds like another performance enhancer to me!!

Crappy Game Giveaways – I’ll never forget leaving Connie Mack Stadium that summer day… so pissed that I got a bat signed by Johnny Briggs, and my cousin got Johnny Callison.  Bat Day was the best ever, but probably gone because of security issues. I know that’s not baseball’s fault. But giveaways and promotions only exist now to court corporate sponsorship… “Modell’s Sporting Goods Kids Run The Bases”, for example.  I’d still like to see a cap, or a ball, or a batting glove adorned only with the logo of my team… not a company.  Crap at it’s finest.


All-Star Game – It used to be the event of the summer, full of trash talk and hard play.  Now it is a joke, long ago ruined by too many free agents and trades.  There was a sense of pride to play for your league, against the “other” league… with nothing on the line except bragging rights.  Home field advantage in the World Series is just plain stupid, and clearly hasn’t given the players any incentive.  If there is nothing to play for, why play?

Managers In Uniform – This is one of my biggest pet peeves.  In no other sport in the world do managers and coaches wear the same uniform as the players. Picture, if you will, the svelte Andy Reid wearing a white Eagles jersey and silver pants during the game.  I’m still scrubbing my brain to erase the image of 80 year-old Don Zimmer in that form-fitting Red Sox uni…

Bench Clearing Brawls – Mister Batter, if you’re hit by a pitch, shut up and go to first (watch Chase Utley). Mister Pitcher, that’s a warning… do it again and you’re out of the game (you’re a major league pitcher… have some control). Field players, don’t take one step in or you’re out of the game too. Everyone else stay on the bench and in the bullpen, including coaches. No reason to be on the field anyway.  Now all of you… grow up and set a better example for young fans.

Umpires – News flash to all MLB Umpires… not one person in the stadium has plunked down their money to see YOU officiate the game.  Stop getting in players faces when they disagree with a call.  Stop with the flamboyant signalling of outs and strikes.  The fact is… if you have done your job well, no one should even notice you are there.

A LOT of Games – I’m hoping this is the year that the World Series gets cancelled because of snow.  Well… not really… but I’d love to see my point proven.  The boys of summer should not be playing in the winter.  Adding yet another round of playoffs is owner’s greed, pure and simple.  Plus… is it all necessary?  After 162 regular season games, do we not know who is the best team?

That’s my view… please comment below.  And at least give me some props for not mentioning soccer…

Glance Links – August 2013

8 08 2013


Just some stuff that caught my eye recently, and might help you in your marketing efforts!  If you have any that you would like to pass on to me… hit me up!

CTA-Guide-CoverCall To Action Guide For EMail Marketing – Great stuff from the beautiful people at AWeber. Make your “call to action” eye-grabbing and attention-snatching, and position it perfectly… then sit back and watch the responses roll in!  PDF Download…

Social Media Image Sizing Cheat Sheet – Recent changes to Facebook pages, Twitter headers, YouTube channels and other social sites has made it difficult to get the size of your images just right. Bookmark this page, and the next time you’re about to post a picture or change your profile image, refer to this handy cheat sheet.

26 Social Stats From 2013 You Should Know –  I find myself explaining why social marketing is important to a business. I do this a lot. Here are some great, current tidbits to make your argument… or your next presentation!

3 Copywriting Mistakes Hurting Your Business (and How to Fix Them) – Make your website work harder by correcting these three common copywriting mistakes. If you are like me, writing doesn’t come without a certain amount of agita… so anything helps! This article will certainly correct some mistakes.

One more thing… does anyone else find it interesting that the word “copywriting” gets flagged in some SpellCheck programs?  Anyway… I hope these items are helpful!  Love to discuss…  JL