Once upon a time, long long ago, OK, December 1992 I asked my old friend Scott Shannon (heard in the New York area on 95-5 'PLJ and nationally on the True Oldies Channel, one of the original VH-1 VJ's, a music analyst for CNN and Entertainment Tonight, and one of the original anchors on the syndicated DISH NATION) if he got my Christmas card, and he replied, in a VERY surprised tone, "Steve, why are you sending Christmas cards? (I was VERY taken aback that he would reply in that fashion to my token of my esteem, but before I got to defend myself he continued.) YOU'RE JEWISH!" I patiently explained that Irving Berlin, Sammy Cahn, and Johnny Marks, none of whom could be mistaken for WASPs,wrote some of the greatest Christmas songs of all time.
True, I AM Jewish, and the Driedel Song and Adam Sandler's many Hanukah hymns may be more logical choices for my holiday playlist, but I've always had a soft spot for New York traditions such as the Christmas tree in Rock Center,the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Lincoln Center's Winter's Eve street fair,and the Knicks' Christmas game, be it on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without all that great music. Take it away and you're left with blistering cold temperatures, blizzards,long nights,putting on everything you own, especially your GLOVES, and (How fun is this?!?) the occasional bout with depression.(At least you've got the Knicks and the Rangers,but lately, they haven't been playing like the world champions I know they can be.) That's why I can't wait for summer, a chance to put all that cumbersome clothing away and enjoy the sunshine. BUT summer is not without ITS occasional drawbacks, and they are those days when the temp hits the 90's, but the Real Feel index hits the 100's, and no matter how much you hate winter, (I spent a few winters in Australia, but that's a topic for another time.)
you keep feeling nostalgic for those visits to Macy*s when you sat on the Big Guy's lap and gave him your wish list. That's why ever since 1977 (Worst. Summer. Ever. "The Bronx Is Burning,"the ConEd blackout, Bella Abzug trying to be New York's first woman mayor and falling right on her hat, New York trying to rebound from the worst fiscal crisis in its history, and about the only entertainment could be found from the red hot Yankees.) and one TV station showed images of frustrated New Yorkers scraping snow off their cars as Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride" played merrily away I have relied on Christmas music to keep cool.
I know, people may call the men in the white suits to take you away to the funny farm, but here is my ideal playlist to help those of you in hot climates deal with excessive heat:
ANYTHING BY TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA (does not apply to "Beethoven's Last Night" album or any track on "Night Castle" that ISN'T "Nutrocker," a fresh, jazz-influenced take on the oft-covered rock version of Tschaikovskt\y's march from the Nutcracker Suite, although "The Silent Nutcracker," an acoustic medley of the aforementioned march, the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, and "Silent Night" is still their best take on the classic)
MARIAH CAREY Medley of "Brahms' Lullaby" and "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"
JACKSON 5 "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"
BUCK OWENS or BRAD PAISLEY "Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy"
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN or THE RONETTES "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"
PERCY FAITH AND HIS ORCHESTRA "Deck The Halls With Boughs Of Holly"
BRENDA LEE "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree"
JESSICA SIMPSON AND NICK LACHEY "Baby It's Cold Outside"
NAT KING COLE "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire"
BOB RIVERS "Who Put the Stump" (Sung to the tune of "Who Put The Bomp In The Bomp-Bomp-Bomp-Bomp-Bomp-Bomp" and not for kids or the faint of heart!)
THE "I LOVE LUCY" CAST "Jingle Bells"
BING CROSBY "White Christmas"
WILLIE NELSON "Pretty Paper"
JIM CROCE "It Doesn't Have To Be That Way"
BILLY JOEL "She's Right On Time"
ADAM SANDLER the aforementioned Chanukah Song trilogy, and NEIL DIAMOND's cover ain't too shabby either!
GARTH BROOKS has a beautiful "Silent Night" during which he talks about the famous Christmas Truce soccer (football/futbol) match.
Oh,by the way, here's an early present for you Twitterers: Follow me @SEisenpreis. The account is new and up and ready for your questions and comments. (If you would like to talk about the blog, use #StevesBlog, and if you want to make a suggestion about said blog, use #ItsMyBlogToo.) You can also find me on Facebook and, of course, you can add me to your circle on good old Google+, but keep it PG or PG-13 if you must, or The Big Guy (or Hannukah Harry for that matter) will put you on the naughty list!
Merry Early Christmas!