electricland: (Christmas tree ohi)
Listen here.

So remember back in the introduction to this Advent calendar I mentioned that former Beatles suck at Christmas songs? It doesn't seem to apply to their wives: this is a Yoko Ono song, and it's amazing, although I admit I like this cover better than the original.

From this interview, in which Thea Gilmore also has trenchant things to say about depression:

Yoko Ono's "Listen, The Snow Is Falling" evokes an idyllic Christmas card of the mind, a kind of universal Yule, and Gilmore's minimal arrangement lends it an air of weightless meditation.

"I didn't even know the song," Gilmore admits. "I was on tour with the Waterboys and I was talking to Mike Scott about covering his song 'December', and he said 'yes you can, that's great, but go and listen to this Yoko Ono song because it will really suit your voice'. So I listened to it and I loved it and I thought it was just beautiful. Everyone said 'you can't do a Yoko Ono song! What's the matter with you!' but it's gorgeous, and it comes at a point on the album where it really needed to draw breath and just stop. I think it really works as that."

Cuddle up in a blanket, close your eyes, and let her sing you to sleep.

Get the full musical Advent calendar here. | What is this?
electricland: (Default)
Listen here.

We're a bit chronologically challenged again; St. Stephen's Day is better known in these parts as Boxing Day. This song is all about that point in the Christmas season when you are sick and tired of all your relatives and contemplating (or indeed committing) murder. Incidentally if you can imagine a fouler drink than Tia Maria mixed with Irn-Bru, your imagination is a dark and frightening place.

This song also has the distinction of having introduced me to TWO of my new favourite Christmas albums - and quite by accident at that. Last year as I was poking about iTunes for new Christmas music, I came across an iTunes playlist that mentioned a duet by Kirsty MacColl and someone else that wasn't Fairytale of New York. I knew there was no way in hell there would be another Kirsty Christmas duet that I, and more to the point Freeworld, hadn't heard of, but I checked it out anyway. It turned out to be Thea Gilmore's rollicking rendition of this song (with Mark Radcliffe). So that introduced me to her. Then I went poking about the Internet for more information and came across this thread on an Elvis Costello fan forum, which contains any amount of interesting trivia, and thus introduced me to The Bells of Dublin and this (original) version of the song. (I trust this is all perfectly clear?)

Just for fun, here's Thea doing her version live and solo:



Get the full musical Advent calendar here. | What is this?
electricland: (Default)
Listen here.

Here we have a second song from Thea Gilmore (she also kicked off this whole mad experiment). I realize it still lacks a week to midwinter, but I was more concerned with musical flow than calendar accuracy when I put this together. Sorry!

This review in Northern Sky gives a bit of the history of this song:

Considering herself a cynical person eleven months of the year, Thea reserves the right to be 'squishy' in December and confesses that she makes a special effort to celebrate it and so why not celebrate it with a themed album and tour? "I love Christmas, I'm a real Christmas freak so it sort of made sense; I had a song that I really wanted to put on an album and so it just made sense to explore ideas and themes of winter and just enjoy my feelings about it as well."

The song in question was Midwinter Toast, which was inspired by a comment made by the radio presenter Janice Long who had said to Thea "I'm so fed up of playing the same old shit on the radio at this time of year; why doesn't anyone write Christmas songs anymore?" Rising to the challenge, Thea went on to write Midwinter Toast but at the time, had nowhere really to put it, therefore it was never actually recorded.

Luckily, she went on to write a bunch more Christmas-and-winter songs and the result was Strange Communion. I for one am thankful, and I salute her Christmas enthusiasm.

Live video here (warning, sound quality is about what you'd expect of a cellphone video, but it's still good):



Cheers as well to the plaid flannel.

Get the full musical Advent calendar here. | What is this?
electricland: (Christmas tree ohi)
Listen here.

I thought we'd kick off with a song about the True Meaning of Christmas. It comes late on Thea Gilmore's unconventional but excellent holiday album Strange Communion, which I discovered around this time last year. There, it acts as a shock to the system, a soft-spoken and lethal counterpoint to the eight songs that precede it. I think it works equally well as an opener, although I must admit that it is currently more than a week to Christmas.

I actually came across Thea Gilmore thanks to an inaccuracy on an iTunes Canada staff playlist, of which more later. I'm glad I did. As you can tell from this, she's a terrific lyricist. I personally am delighted by any lyrics that include the words "gimcracks", "Gordian knot", "equipoise", and "Saturnalia". According to this article in The Mag, the lyrics reference Louis MacNeice, with whose poetry I'm not familiar; if anyone knows the reference, please speak up!

The opening reminds me a little of A Child's Christmas in Wales, which is something of a holiday tradition around these parts. (We'll be having readings from it at my choir's concert.)

In future installments I'll be including videos if I can find them; in this case there doesn't seem to be one. Get on that, somebody.

Get the full musical Advent calendar here. | What is this?

Happy December! It snowed here yesterday, although I don't believe it stayed on the ground anywhere.

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