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I’m Dreaming, or Do I Need a Shovel?

This time of year makes us nostalgic. We prepare our Thanksgiving Day dinner while high school bands march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We root for an angel to lift James Stewart out of despair in It’s a Wonderful Life. We listen to “White Christmas” again and again and again.

Photo by: Williumbillium

Photo by: Williumbillium

Bing Crosby first sang the Irving Berlin song on his radio show in 1941 and then in the 1942 musical Holiday Inn for which it was written. It topped the charts that October and stayed there for eleven weeks. Over the years its estimated sales are over fifty million copies worldwide.

The over five hundred versions of the song since recorded by various artists around the world account for another fifty million plus copies sold. Before the decade was out Frank Sinatra, Kay Thompson, Jo Stafford, and Perry Como gave the song their own special spin.

In the fifties the Drifters, Eddie Fisher, Johnny Mathis, Dean Martin, and Ella Fitzgerald chimed in. Both Frank Sinatra and Perry Como again recorded the song, but not together. Elvis put the song on his first holiday album in 1957.

There are instrumental versions by Mantovani and His Orchestra (1952) and Kenny G (1994), as well as sing alongs. In 1961 on the cover to his holiday album, Mitch Miller didn’t print the song’s lyrics, but rather this disclaimer: “The publisher assumes everyone knows the lyrics to this song!”

The song knows no genre. Neil Diamond (1992) recorded a doo-wop version. Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton (1984) harmonized on Once Upon a Christmas. Country and Western singers, Garth Brooks (1992), Martina McBride (1998), Taylor Swift (2007), Blake Shelton (2012), and Kelly Clarkson (2013) among others, have made it part of their holiday repertoire. So, too, did Motown with The Supremes (1965), boy bands, including New Kids on the Block (1989), and female performers from Barbra Streisand (1967) to Diane Krall (2005). Lady Gaga added a verse when she recorded it for A Very Gaga Holiday (2011), which goes like this:

I’m dreaming of a white Snowman

With the carrot nose and charcoal eyes.

And, oh when he cries, I’m gonna tell him

It’s okay,

Because Santa’s on his sleigh and on his way.

 

Conversely, most recordings drop Berlin’s opening verse:

The sun is shining,

The grass is green,

The orange and palm trees sway.

There’s never been such a day

In Beverly Hills, L.A.

 

Both California’s La Quinta Hotel and the Arizona Biltmore claim Berlin wrote his popular song while at their resort.  Without dispute, however,  only someone sitting poolside misses the snow and cold while the rest of us shovel our driveways so we can make it to Grandma’s for pudding and pumpkin pie.

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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10 Quotes on Childhood Recollections

(Please note: This was first posted on my new website YourBiography2.com.)

As we get older we find it difficult, if not impossible, to remember growing up. Yet we all have a first memory. Mine is the time I tied my shoes by myself. Oh, I was so excited and proud. I raced down the steps to tell my Mom.

Photo by: ToniVC

Photo by: ToniVC

Here are ten quotes of early childhood recollections. They all make perfect sense, give the paths the speakers have taken and the careers they’ve had.

I spent my childhood eating. The only exercise I got was trying to twist off the cap of a jar of mayonnaise.

— Richard Simmons, fitness guru

Playing guitar was one of my childhood hobbies, and I had played a little at school and at camp. My parents would drag me out to perform for my family, like all parents do, but it was a hobby – nothing more.

— Bonnie Raitt, singer

I have a love affair with tomatoes and corn. I remember them from my childhood. I only had them in the summer. They were extraordinary.

— Alice Waters, chef

My earliest thought, long before I was in high school, was just to go away, get out of my house, get out of my city. I went to Medford High School, but even in grade school and junior high, I fantasized about leaving.

— Paul Theroux, travel writer

One of my earliest memories was me singing ‘Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’ at the top of my voice when I was seven. I got totally carried away. My grandmother, Sarah, was in the next room. I didn’t even realize she was there. I was terribly embarrassed.

— James Taylor, singer

My earliest memories are doing commercials and TV.

— Jodie Foster, actress

I played music and sang from my earliest memories. The first pictures of me show me wandering around with a guitar that was larger than I was, and it became almost second nature to me.

— Dwight Yoakam, singer

I still love making hamburgers on the grill. I guess whenever I eat them childhood memories come up for me.

— Bobby Flay, chef

Chocolate is the first luxury. It has so many things wrapped up in it: deliciousness in the moment, childhood memories, and that grin-inducing feeling of getting a reward for being good.

— Mariska Hargitay, actress

I’m just lucky. I do have very clear memories of childhood. I find that many people don’t, but I’m just very fortunate that I have that kind of memory.

— Beverly Cleary, writer of children’s literature

What about you? Does the way you were jive with who you’ve become?

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

 

 

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Do You Kazoo?

Photo by:  Fulla T

Photo by: Fulla T

The kazoo is a musical instrument that dates back to the 1840s.  It was invented by Alabama Vest, a former slave, and introduced at the 1852 George State Fair.  It quickly became popular.

The kazoo is only one of three instruments native to the United States.  The other two:  the banjo and the glass armonica. If you’re not familiar with the later, imagine rubbing a wet finger around the rim of a bottle or glass.  You’ll get the idea.

Most of us think of the kazoo as a noisemaker, an annoying souvenir or toy handed out a birthday parties because even youngsters can play it.  But it is much more than that.  Accomplished musicians can produce more than forty sounds on the instrument.

A kazoo can be made of metal, wood, or plastic.  A wax-paper membrane sits in a small hole atop the instrument, which vibrates when the player hums into the larger end of the instrument.  Different sizes produce different sounds, so does partially covering up the membrane or singing a variety of syllables such doo, who, rrrr, or brrr into the kazoo.

Frank Zappa used a kazoo on his first album, Freak Out!  Jimi Hendrix used one to simulate a blown-out speaker in his song “Crosstown Traffic.” You can hear the kazoo in the Beatles’ song, “Lovely Rita,” and in Pink Floyd’s “Corporal Clegg” in which they parodied a military brass band.

In a Jerry Garcia tribute night at the home of the San Francisco Giants in 2010, 9,000 kazoo players performed “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”  Or they tried to.  What a racket.  And, oh, so much fun.

Come join the band. January 28th is National Kazoo Day.   If that’s not enough reason to celebrate, it’s also National Blueberry Pancake Day.

Just remember: Don’t blow.  Hum.

© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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There’s No Getting Around It

It must be true:  the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Everyone says so.

Rock on! Photo by: all that improbable blue.

The feeling might be sentimental or cynical.  It can refer to private pleasures or shared sorrows.  Poets make it rhyme, and songsters put it to music, whether it’s pure country or full throttle rock ‘n roll.

“It’s a smile, it’s a kiss. It’s a sip of wine, it’s summertime. Sweet summertime.  The more things change, the more they stay the same,” Kenny Chesney sings of summers past and present.

“Now I hear all about your running around. Man, you’re a legend all over town. The more things change, the more they remain the same,” Mary Chapin Carpenter criticizes a cheating ex.

On their album Strange Times, Moody Blues recites, “Nothing changes, and nothing stays the same. And life is still a simple game.”

But to the glam heavy metal band Cinderella, life is anything but a game. “You gotta go for the throat. 
You gotta fight for your life.

 The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Everyone’s your brother till you turn the other way.”

Bon Jovi observes, “The same sunrise, it’s just another day.  If you hang in long enough they say you’re comin’ back.  Just take a look, we’re living proof and, baby, that’s a fact.  You know the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

“You know what I’m talking about,” Jon Bon Jovi shouts in concert in the middle of his song, “Right?” Right!

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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Like a fine wine, baby.  See Jon Bon Jovi rock it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlfwVyaFEyc