THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUTH:

All truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.



Sunday, December 22, 2013

O HOLY NIGHT BEFORE THE STORM


It's a weakness in my character, I openly acknowledge that. And every year I promise myself I'll do better and every year I fail all over again.

You see, the problem is that I get so swept up in the Christmas Spirit that my anger is assuaged, my bluster is blunted, my snarkiness is subdued, and my mien mellows. 
O Holy God, forgive me - my mien mellows! It's all this marvelous music and colored lights, glittering tinsel, good food, and spiked eggnog. Joy to the world! And joy in my heart!

Fortunately, however, I usually recover from my illness fairly quickly and midway through the first week of the new year I am my old, cantankerous self again.

That was a roundabout way of apologizing for not having published any hard-hitting political stuffs for awhile. I assure you I have some nastiness in the works and will get it written and posted shortly after the start of 2014 if not before. I want to yak about Obama and Feminism. Those ARE two different subjects, right? (Oh! That felt good! The "bad dog, bad dog!" in me has been away too long!) Anyway, not just yet. I'm going to continue being wimpy for at least one more blog bit - this blog bit right here.

Where I work, they have this really nice Nativity scene on the front lawn. Below is a photograph I took, but to give you a better sense of perspective, be aware that the king standing at the far right is about three feet tall.
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I can't help but think of one of my favorite Christmas songs when I see a nice Manger scene like that one.

In our family, Christmas music was always a big part of the month-long celebration, and for as long as I can remember, the papa bear of all Christmas albums in our house was unquestionably the 1958 Johnny Mathis album 'MERRY CHRISTMAS'. That was always the first album my Ma would play after Thanksgiving Day, and it was always the album that got played on Christmas morning when We Three Kids approached the tree while the home movie camera was filming and the bright spotlight was in our eyes as we tried to see what Santa had brought us.
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That same recording was also one of the first I purchased on compact disc when I began switching my LP collection over, so it is no exaggeration when I say that prior to the year 2000, I had heard every song on that album - including 
'O HOLY NIGHT' - hundreds of times! I knew those 12 songs like I knew my own name... or so I thought.

On Christmas night in 2000, I left my Ma's house (Pa had already been in Heaven for four years) and I drove home to my apartment. At about 10 PM, I put my Johnny Mathis 'MERRY CHRISTMAS' CD into my player and just sat down on the couch in my living room which was illuminated only by the twinkling lights of my Christmas tree. And I just sat there, doing nothing other than listening to Mathis sing. Perhaps for the first time ever, I was hearing 'MERRY CHRISTMAS' not as background music while I did something else, but as the sole subject of my mind's focus.

I was simply enjoying the moment and the music (as I always did) until track #7, 'O HOLY NIGHT', began playing! Suddenly, it seemed I was hearing the song for the very first time! Of course I had always known that Mathis was a great singer, but now I was made aware of his awesome vocal technique, such masterful control of his voice and with it an ability to convey emotion, to express great Spiritual feeling. I was floored. I mean, literally "FLOORED!": One moment I was sitting on the couch and the next thing I knew, I was on my stomach, lying on the carpet to get my ears as close as possible to the compact disc player's speakers.

I pressed the "Repeat" button and must have listened to Mathis sing 'O HOLY NIGHT' at least eight times in a row before I finally unplugged the Christmas tree for the last time that year and went to bed. It has remained my all-time favorite version of one of the all-time greatest Sacred Christmas carols. I had planned to use 'O HOLY NIGHT' - Johnny Mathis versus Susan Boyle - as my 10th installment of 'Battle Of The Bands', but FarAwayEyes beat me to the song. So I am simply posting below, as my Christmas gift to all y’all, the rendition I would have voted for.

I'm not exactly sure where or when this live version was filmed, but apparently the producers took the 1958 Percy Faith Orchestra instrumental, removed Johnny's original vocal track and had him sing it live to the same music used on his 'MERRY CHRISTMAS' album. I don't know which vocal I prefer, the 1958 model or this live recording - they are slightly different but both are great and affect me most at different points in the song. You may want to close your eyes while listening so that the visuals don't distract you in any way from the purity of the music and the incredible sound of the Mathis artistry. In my opinion, this song doesn’t get better than this:
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‘O HOLY NIGHT’ – Johnny Mathis
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I hope you enjoyed that.

To all a very Merry Christmas!

The usual mean-spirited, intolerant, homophobic,
misogynistic racism to follow shortly.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.
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19 comments:

  1. Nice version.. I am not the world's biggest Mathis fan, but I like what he does here.

    I am sure we've had this conversation before-but it seems out here in AZ the trend is to ditch the tree and decorations right after Christmas day.

    We always left them up until January 6 (may just be a Catholic thing), which was the celebration of the Epiphany, when the wise men actually arrived at the manger.

    Brian's mother: Who are you?

    Wise Man #2: We are three wise men.

    Brian's mother: What?

    Wise Man #1: We are three wise men.

    Brian's mother: Well, what are you doing creeping around a cow shed at two o'clock in the morning? That doesn't sound very wise to me.

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    1. DR. DISCDUDE ~
      'The Life Of Brian' is very, very funny. I own that one on DVD along with 'MP And The Holy Grail'.

      In my neighborhood, most people leave their Christmas stuffs out all the way through New Years Day, and some even keep the lights lit into the first and second week of the new year.

      I don't light my tree anymore after December 25th, and I put away the indoor decorations as soon as time permits.

      My habits changed somewhat after having accepted Christ. While the indoor stuffs may be hanging around a little longer due to time constraints, I make it a point every year to remove ALL of the outdoor lights and decorations on December 26th.

      It's just my little way of illustrating the fact that what I had been celebrating was not "Happy Holidays", or "Season's Greetings", "Happy New Year", or "Winter Solstice", or what have you.

      I am strictly celebrating "Merry Christmas" - the birth of The Savior. So on Dec. 26th, the birthday party is officially over for another year, and I get my outdoor things down and out of sight immediately.

      Just a little extra display - or non-display, actually - to signify what it was I was spending additional money on electricity to celebrate.

      I'm sure all of my neighbors probably think: That dude must have a little "Grinch" in him, because he sure is in a hurry to restore the appearance of his house to the normal blah.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

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    2. Hope you didn't take my observation as a critique-I have a lot of Grinch, as I barely decorate at all (the Philadelphia Eagles stocking Eileen gave me in 1996 probably has little relation to the true meaning of Christmas), although I do play a fair amount of Christmas music over the weeks leading up to the Day.

      As for my neighbors....I try to look agnostic when I am outside....

      And as for salutations...I say "Merry Christmas." Any Jew or atheist or Muslim or Jehovah's Witness or whatever who gets their panties in a bunch over a two word phrase-the heck with 'em!

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    3. >>... As for my neighbors....I try to look agnostic when I am outside....

      As opposed to, say,... "atheistic"?

      Hmmm... How do display the difference?

      It seems as if more and more people are beginning to publicly say "Merry Christmas" to each other again.

      We may be seeing a backlash to all the crap that the atheists have been getting away with for the last few decades.

      And lastly, LC, I wish you a Happy Kwanzaa!

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

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  2. Such a beautiful song, Silent Night is my favorite. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for such a thoughtful comment on my blog!

    Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

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  3. Since my mother had the Johnny Mathis Christmas album, I am sure that I have heard that version before. However, it was wonderful to hear it again.

    Merry Christmas to you. I hope that you have a joyous Christmas.

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  4. YOLANDA and ROBIN ~
    Merry Christmas to you both as well. I hope Santa brings you the Red Ryder BB gun you want (or whatever replaces the Red Ryder BB gun in your worlds).

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  5. That was beautiful. Haunting. A true pleasure to listen to. And now I eagerly await you returning to your grinchy self.

    Nah, it's good to be in a brighter mood around the holidays. I even find myself being pretty tame these days. Looking forward to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And then it's back to dark, scathing reality.

    But at least dark, scathing reality has beer...

    Speaking of beer (clever segway, no?) I'm glad to hear you liked the Colorado Native. It's not one of my top ten, but it's the best lager I've ever had and I'm amazed how much flavor they can pack into it. As for the rest of the beers, I have some guesses on what you liked, but I'll wait and see when you officially report back.

    As for the packing, I'm just paranoid. According to a guy on a beer forum who ships beer all the time, he suggested, "Pack it so that if you drop it from five feet off the ground, it won't break. Because that's how all those package guys 'move them around'." Makes sense to me. Better overpacked than a soggy box full of broken glass, I say.

    If I don't talk to you till then... Merry Christmas. But since I probably will... Merry Christmas anyhows.

    ~6er

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    1. BROTHER BEER BOY BRYAN BODYGUARD BETTY (Or, 6-B) ~

      >>... Colorado Native. It's not one of my top ten, but it's the best lager I've ever had and I'm amazed how much flavor they can pack into it.

      I think I agree on all counts. After looking it up at Beer Advocate and reading a few reviews (always like to see if any of those knuckleheaded ragamuffins know beer like I know beer), what amazed me even more was discovering that it is brewed by a subsidiary of Coors! Wha'?! Whoda thunk the Coors Brewing Company could ever do a thing right?

      >>... "Pack it so that if you drop it from five feet off the ground, it won't break. Because that's how all those package guys 'move them around'."

      No doubt. Even when a shipping crate is marked "Fragile" (meaning it comes from Italy) and is labeled "This End Up", the delivery clowns always leave it with "This End Down". (Doggone Doofus Dudes! You know, you could completely wreck "a major award bowling alley" by doing that!)

      A Merry CHIRSTmas to "you and yourn", Brother!

      ~ Al

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  6. >It's a weakness in my character, I openly acknowledge that. And every year I promise myself I'll do better and every year I fail all over again.

    "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone". Hey, I think I almost pulled a relevant Bible verse out of my butt. I guess being high-schooled by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart wasn't a total loss. Or, is that the influence of the Brother of the F-FFF?

    Actually, I just saw that 1971 made for TV Christmas movie, 'The Homecoming'. My favorite part is when a missionary comes to town and wants to hand out presents to the local kids but they have to come up on stage and recite a Bible verse. None of the kid know any, so Mary Ellen Walton starts whispering verses to each kid and they run up on stage a repeat it to the missionary, grab their present, and run. It's one of my favorite parts.

    >I mean, literally "FLOORED!": One moment I was sitting on the couch and the next thing I knew, I was on my stomach, lying on the carpet to get my ears as close as possible to the compact disc player's speakers.

    You've done this before in the middle of Route 66. I'm seeing a trend here.

    Mathis' version of 'O, Holy Night' is a beauty, but I will have to vote for Jack Webb's version of 'The Little Big Jesus' instead.

    The Big Little Jesus

    When you posted that last year, I remember taking a break from watching the market, and being totally engrossed in that episode.

    Got a seasons greeting for AZ the other day. It came from this James Dean, Jim Morrison lookin' guy. Thank for that, and Merry CHRISTmas to you too.

    SigToo

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    1. SigToo ~

      I saw 'The Homecoming' when it first aired on TV, and I now own it on DVD. It was THAT show which first made me decide that I was going to be a writer, like Johnboy. (And I would have become a writer, too, if I'd had the necessary talent! I was young and didn't realize that there was more to it than just deciding you were going to be a writer.)

      I'll also confess that I developed a little crush on Mary Ellen. Ha! (Do you remember her Playboy photo shoot years later? I certainly do. But, hey, I'm still an "ALRIGHT GUY".)

      >>... You've done this before in the middle of Route 66. I'm seeing a trend here.

      Yes. It's called "Falling Down Liquored-Up".

      Yo! THANKS for posting a link to that old F-FFF Christmas installment. Man, I had a ton of great stuffs included in that. Just now read it again.

      The astounding thing is that every one of those videos is still alive and kicking - YouTube hasn't deleted a single one yet. Now THAT'S "a Christmas Miracle"!

      Later tonight maybe, or late tomorrow night, I may have to watch that Dragnet episode again. I have listened to my cassette recording of it already this year though - TWICE!

      >>... Got a seasons greeting for AZ the other day. It came from this James Dean, Jim Morrison lookin' guy. Thank for that, and Merry CHRISTmas to you too.

      Yeah, some people never find themselves and spend their entire lives trying to be someone else. Glad that never happened to me.

      [E'd ya from work the other night. Got Email?]

      Have a Merry (Ellen) one, my friend!

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

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    2. Thought Nurse Ratched intercepted, but luckily, no. Got it.

      (Googling Mary Ellen, post-haste.)

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    3. Ha!-Ha!
      And I'll bet you really are, too.

      ~ XmasDogg

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  7. Tis a truly great song. And a great version by Mathis.

    A very Merry Christmas to you and may your 2014 be filled with controversy.

    Lee

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    1. Back atcha, BLOGMAN BOID!

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete
  8. I, too, Googled Judy Norton Taylor. Thanks for the advice, Sig and Rupert.

    I am very grateful this Christmas for many things, including F-FFFriends, and having a friend who so persistently does his best to explain his love for that music which is presently beyond my ability to properly appreciate.

    While not a fan of Mathis' style, he sings with passion and feeling, and I can hypothesize why you appreciate him.

    My earliest influences led a different direction. My father frequently complained about Mathis. He would have loved the version of this perfect song done by Robert Merrill (available on YouTube also, if you are interested.)

    My tiny wish for you this Christmas is for another hit... blog bit.

    Merry Christmas, Cowboy!

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    1. >>... I, too, Googled Judy Norton Taylor. Thanks for the advice, Sig and Rupert.

      Ha! One just never knows what they're going to find on this blog, huh? We started with Johnny Mathis and 'O Holy Night' and ended up with Judy Norton Taylor sans clothing. "It's A Wonderful Blog!"

      I liked your "tiny wish", SIXBRO. I didn't even bother to mention Tiny and his second hit song this year. I guess I've given up promoting this Christmas Day tradition, but you can bet your boots that tomorrow I will drop a coin in a fountain and make my annual "Wish For Tiny Tim".

      Hey, I really liked The Killers' video - so many places I know well! The song was "OK", (which was pretty much my feeling about the band a year or so ago) but I loved the video they put together. And especially enjoyed the shout out to Zevon's 'Carmelita' (now THAT is a great song!)

      But... I watched the video 2+ times and still couldn't find an "animated Warren Zevon". Where are you seeing him?

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete

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