At the bottom right of every page there's a place to click for Older Posts. I hope you feel compelled to do so. Following the piece below--the story about a fascinating secret journal I found in my mother's condo after she passed away last year--there's one I posted during the holidays about my self-appointed role as a Christmas song Scrooge. Under that there are such features as:
- what did Merv Griffin have up his (bathrobe) sleeve
- my encounter with a hungover George Plimpton
- an explanation for the doctor who killed herself on stage when she thought I was dead
- my friend's bizarre recollection of his Andy Warhol movie adventure
- the story of when Irving Berlin didn't get Mad (with a capital M)
- the speech that Donald Trump never gave...
Feel free to contact me. Send an email to JoeltheWriter@comcast.net. Maybe I'll hear from you. Maybe there's a reason for us to connect. Hey, you never know!
|Mom as a young woman|
|Mom and her first great-granddaughter, Veronica|
|Mom & dad on their wedding day|
|Mom and her five grandchildren|
|One of her journal doodles. A peek into her mind?|
|Doris Day even made an appearance in mom's journal!|
|Mom and dad at my daughter Celia's wedding|
A Christmas Song Scrooge is Coming to Town
Forget about asking when the United States became a union of the insult tweets, unchecked narcissism, and conflicted national interests. With the holiday season upon us, and the radio blasting, it occurs to me that an equally important question might be, When did Rod Stewart become the standard-bearer for great American Christmas songs?
Over the past five hours I heard Rod on the radio singing “My Favorite Things,” "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," and with Dolly Parton, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” all three part of that radio station’s nonstop Christmas music marathon.
“Do You Think I’m Sexy?” is one thing. But pretty Christmas songs? Come on now. Rod's gravelly, meandering voice may have been perfect for “Maggie May” because it fit his personality and style. But you can’t say that about every song he puts on vinyl. (I know, I know, it’s not vinyl anymore; it’s bits and bytes. But I love saying the word vinyl. If you don’t like it, byte me.) If Rod wants to sing merry little Christmas songs, let him do it at home, in the shower, in bed with a big-bosom'd lady with a Dutch accent, if he'd like. But that doesn't mean the rest of us need to be subjected to it!
I guess you can just call me a Christmas Song Scrooge.
Which brings me to my second Scrooge-like question: when did “My Favorite Things,” from the Rogers & Hammerstein musical “The Sound of Music,” become a Christmas song? Yes, I get it—it sounds like it's all about opening presents. But it's not! First of all, the show does not take place during Christmas. Secondly, in the original Broadway production, Maria sings the song in the church office of Mother Abbess, just before Maria is sent off to take care of the seven Von Trapp children. Maria and her boss are discussing things to think about to avoid trepidation and sadness; they are not discussing the joy of opening Christmas presents.
Certainly that takes nothing away from the beauty of the song itself, at Christmastime or any other time of the year, for that matter. It’s just that when I hear it sung in a voice like Rod's (which sounds more like a lonely goatherd than a sophisticated crooner), I go a little nuts. After all, there are plenty of other versions to choose from. At last count there were about 40 recorded versions of “My Favorite Things,” including ones by Diana Ross, Tony Bennett, Vanessa Williams, Barry Manilow, Mary J. Blige, Luther Vandross and many others. Even the Carpenters recorded it—though their version never makes it onto the radio.
Speaking of the Carpenters, that relates to my final bah humbug of the day: When radio stations do their Christmas song marathons, as they are doing now, we hear the same songs over and over and over again. Some of the most stimulating cuts are left out. When stations play the Carpenters, for example, we hear the same two or three songs that we hear every year--usually "Merry Christmas, Darling" and "There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays." But the Carpenters recorded a few songs that are unique and intriguing that very few people know about. Like their ballad version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Stunning—but hardly ever heard on the air!
I’d love to be a Christmas song consultant for a radio station.
Then again, what the hell do I know? I would never have thought to put Bing Crosby and David Bowie together to sing a Christmas song. Yet, here's a YouTube clip with the two of them doing a duet on “Little Drummer Boy,” and as of this writing it has more than 4.6 million views! I might as well just sit in my car, shut up, and listen to one of the marathons. Because even Rod Stewart and "Merry Christmas, Darling" are better than the news and drive-time talk.
After the following few little personal plugs for my writing, the blog continues with real-life stories about Mad Magazine, even madder Irving Berlin, a ferklempt Romeo, a Jewish dreg of society, a speech for Donald Trump, my Radio Flyer and others. I think you'll enjoy them. Please read on. At the bottom right, click Older Posts. Thanks!
JoeltheWriter.com (my website)
Some Kind of Lonely Clown (my most recent book)
I'd Rather Have Root Canal Once a Week Than Ever Buy a House (a true-story Kindle)
For those who may be interested, I've written a screenplay called "Remember Me to Herald Square," about an actress and a reporter who meet ten years after their high school sweetheart days are over, only to see their careers on a collision course. I also have multi-page treatments for several others, such as "Morning Stars," about an irascible deejay who falls in love with a woman claiming to be the reincarnation of Amelia Earhart, "Menagerie," about the lives of a group of unsettled people who join forces at a small community theater in Queens, and others such as "Beyond the Mighty Hudson" and "Half Crazy." My TV projects are listed at the bottom of the next blog page. Thanks.