24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Today is Christmas Eve, which means tomorrow is Christmas Day. I want to focus more on the message of the day than on the day itself because I know that not all of my readers (and most definitely not all of my non-readers) are Christian and not all celebrate Christmas.

So in that light, I wish you all peace and joy and love. Enjoy this time of year and remember to share the love with friends, family, and even strangers.

My final gift to you is a song that I loved as a child. It brings back memories of everything that is right with Christmas.

Merry Christmas, one and all!

07 December 2009

A Christmas Shout Out To My "Old Line State" Peeps

I was born in our nation's capital but I was raised in Southern Maryland. In case you didn't know, Maryland is famous for its blue crabs. And what's the first thing you think of when you think of Maryland blue crabs? That's right ... CHRISTMAS!!!

No, seriously.

Penned and recorded by David DeBoy in the summer of 1981, "Crabs For Christmas" is the story of a department store Santa in Houston, TX who is accosted by a Baltimore man. Now this poor man is so very far away from home and wants nothing more than a pile of steamed crabs and a beer for Christmas.

Touching story, no?

Alright, so it's not the Nativity Story. But it's a funny, catchy tune and probably the only Maryland-themed Christmas song out there. And as someone who grew up where the blue crab is king, this song brings a smile to my face and a warmth to my heart. I hope you enjoy it every bit as much as I do and that it finds its way into your regular Christmas music rotation.

Oh! And if you'd like to purchase your very own copy, you can find the CD on David DeBoy's website. (Sorry, folks. There isn't a purchasable digital download of the song.)

04 December 2009

More Christmas Music Recommendations

A couple years ago, I listed a countdown of my most and least favorite Christmas tunes. You can find a roundup of my Top Five lists here. With Christmas soon upon us, I've decided that I should offer you some more holiday music to enjoy.
  • I'm a big fan of Harry Connick, Jr. He's released a few Christmas albums during his career. My favorite of these is When My Heart Finds Christmas. The album recalls some of the great Christmas songs that were recorded during the 1940's and early 1950's by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. While it was difficult to single one song out, I have been able to do so. His rendition of "The Blessed Dawn Of Christmas Day" is one of the most emotionally delivered songs I've heard.

  • Bob Dylan is not a singer. What he is is one of the greatest songwriters to have ever lived. He has penned some of the most iconic American music you'll hear. But he is not a singer. That is what makes his album Christmas In The Heart such a disappointment. The album is too richly produced for his weatherd, ragged voice to stand up to. It sounds like a Traveling Wilburys album without the benefit of having the other Wilburys present to record, which wouldn't be completely possible anyway. Still, there is a pearl amongst these swine, the playful romp "Must Be Santa". Writen in the style of "The International Friendship Song", this tune takes off in pure polka style and doesn't stop until the end (as all songs should, I suppose). I defy you to listen to this without wanting to sing along.

  • Originally released exclusively at Hallmark stores as A Christmas Album and re-released as James Taylor At Christmas, this is yet another album that should be in your Christmas music collection. Like the Harry Connick, Jr. album, it was difficult to pick one song out of so many. But I've settled on "Baby It’s Cold Outside", a duet that pairs James with Natalie Cole. The samba shuffle gives a cozy feel that enhances the playful back-and-forth between James and Natalie. The chemistry between the two singers feels real … you can tell these two had a blast working on this song together.

02 December 2009

A Continuation Of The Discussion

This past Tuesday, the D.C. City Council passed the bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the District. It is the first of three final hurtles to jump before homosexuals can marry in the Nation's Capital. Today, The Washington Post posted an article that explains how some black residents, especially those who lived through and fought during the Civil Right Movement of the 1960's, are none too happy that this struggle is being compared to that struggle. It's something I've heard many times before, from blacks and whites alike. But in this article, one piece jumped out at me like a neon green dot on a grey wall.
"You can choose to be gay or not," Marshall Brown said. "You can never choose to be black or not."

Not so, his son said. "People are born that way," Kwame Brown said. "That could be a generational difference between the way he thinks and the way I think."

"That's a fair argument," the father said when told of his son's view about sexual orientation. But the elder Brown wasn't about to equate gay rights with the civil rights movement.
I'm glad that the Elder Brown can see the merits of the "people are born that way" argument. It was his next statement that gave me pause.
Homosexuals, he said, "can hide it so easily, but we can't hide that we're black."
So here are the big questions that beg to be asked:
  • If blacks could have hidden easily their blackness ... that is, if they could have used a cream or other such ways to hide the color of their skin ... would they have settled with the laws of the days before the Civil Rights Movement?
  • Would the lighter-skinned among them have sold out those of their brethren who were to the extremes of the color human spectrum in order to just fit in and work with the system that existed at that time?
  • Would they have simply accepted their situation or would they have still fought to make things better, equal, and more perfect?

I think I already know the answer. Which makes their arguments all the more ridiculous.