“Drawing Warmth Out Of The Cold”

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As we do each year around this time, we post about that Monday morning when Amber’s uncle got an unexpected visit…

Amber called her uncle, said “We’re up here for the holiday
Jane and I were having Solstice, now we need a place to stay”
And her Christ-loving uncle watched his wife hang Mary on a tree
He watched his son hang candy canes all made with red dye number three
He told his niece, “It’s Christmas eve, I know our life is not your style”
She said, “Christmas is like Solstice, and we miss you and it’s been awhile”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able
And just before the meal was served, hands were held and prayers were said
Sending hope for peace on earth to all their gods and goddesses

The food was great, the tree plugged in, the meal had gone without a hitch
Till Timmy turned to Amber and said, “Is it true that you’re a witch?”
His mom jumped up and said, “The pies are burning,” and she hit the kitchen
And it was Jane who spoke, she said, “It’s true, your cousin’s not a Christian”
“But we love trees, we love the snow, the friends we have, the world we share
And you find magic from your God, and we find magic everywhere”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able
And where does magic come from, I think magic’s in the learning
Cause now when Christians sit with Pagans only pumpkin pies are burning

When Amber tried to do the dishes, her aunt said, “Really, no, don’t bother”
Amber’s uncle saw how Amber looked like Tim and like her father
He thought about his brother, how they hadn’t spoken in a year
He thought he’d call him up and say, “It’s Christmas and your daughter’s here”
He thought of fathers, sons and brothers, saw his own son tug his sleeve saying
“Can I be a Pagan?” Dad said, “We’ll discuss it when they leave”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able
Lighting trees in darkness, learning new ways from the old, and
Making sense of history and drawing warmth out of the cold

 

Listen carefully and you’ll hear Dar Williams’ s update of the last verse…

Thanks to YouTuber eTown

The Christmas Song

 

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The two neighbors dropped by the other night, sat down to the piano and plunked out a tune. Fortunately I was able to get a video of it on my cellphone. Sorry for the black and white filter.

Thanks to YouTuber BestArtsJudy

 

My Grown-Up Christmas List: Liz Callaway

 

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Every year the gracious David Kenney, who hosts the WBAI radio program Everything Old is New Again (WBAI 99.5 FM NYC and WBAI.org, Sunday nights, 9-11pm), produces a smashing cabaret fundraiser for the station.  Last year,  the amazing Liz Callaway sang her version of My Grown-Up Christmas List and knocked it out of the park. You can hear her every-word-counts performance by clicking on the grey triangle above.

And if you want to hear the performances of the wonderful line-up of guests that David has for this year’s fundraiser, including Julie Budd and Mark Nadler, tune into his show this week and next.

One Last Adult Christmas Song

At the cabaret show I attended last week, the wonderful Liz Callaway sang a beautiful Christmas wish in her emotion-filled, crystal-clear voice. Here’s the audio clip from that song on that memorable afternoon (click the orange button):

Christmas Presents

I’m still playing around with the size of truth on the radio. Yesterday, Christmas Day, radio station WBAI broadcast me reading these two poems. Many thanks to Prairie Miller, the host of Arts Express, who aired them. Click the orange buttons to hear the two short poems.

Adornments

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Persimmon

Holiday Cheer

Dar Williams’s The Christians and the Pagans is my favorite Christmas song. It’s a little gem of songwriting storytelling: a comedic, touching history of the family dinner table, along with the history of tolerance in America, in a compact three minutes. I wish I could be a next-door neighbor to the delightful family that made this video!

Happy Holidays, be you Christian or Pagan.

Amber called her uncle, said “We’re up here for the holiday
Jane and I were having Solstice, now we need a place to stay”
And her Christ-loving uncle watched his wife hang Mary on a tree
He watched his son hang candy canes all made with red dye number three
He told his niece, “It’s Christmas eve, I know our life is not your style”
She said, “Christmas is like Solstice, and we miss you and it’s been awhile”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able
And just before the meal was served, hands were held and prayers were said
Sending hope for peace on earth to all their gods and goddesses

The food was great, the tree plugged in, the meal had gone without a hitch
Till Timmy turned to Amber and said, “Is it true that you’re a witch?”
His mom jumped up and said, “The pies are burning,” and she hit the kitchen
And it was Jane who spoke, she said, “It’s true, your cousin’s not a Christian”
“But we love trees, we love the snow, the friends we have, the world we share
And you find magic from your God, and we find magic everywhere”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able
And where does magic come from, I think magic’s in the learning
Cause now when Christians sit with Pagans only pumpkin pies are burning

When Amber tried to do the dishes, her aunt said, “Really, no, don’t bother”
Amber’s uncle saw how Amber looked like Tim and like her father
He thought about his brother, how they hadn’t spoken in a year
He thought he’d call him up and say, “It’s Christmas and your daughter’s here”
He thought of fathers, sons and brothers, saw his own son tug his sleeve saying
“Can I be a Pagan?” Dad said, “We’ll discuss it when they leave”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able
Lighting trees in darkness, learning new ways from the old, and
Making sense of history and drawing warmth out of the cold

  • Music

Everything Old is New Again: NYC Cabaret

What happens to great American songs of yesteryear? Well, they don’t die, no, they become staples of cabaret society.

For years at radio station WBAI, Dave Kenney has been preserving and propagating, through his weekly radio program Everything Old is New Again, what he calls the “Great American Songbook”: those great songs, that were mainly Broadway bound, from the likes of George and Ira Gershwin, Rogers and Hart, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg, Frank Loesser, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, and so on. It’s a tradition that jazz and cabaret singers have elevated to a whole separate art form, distinct from the legitimate theater.

Last week, Kenney produced and hosted a wonderful cabaret benefit for WBAI listeners at the Metropolitan Room, an intimate and comfortable space in which to host such an event. The talent on display was delightful and happy-making. It was a two-hour master class in the Art of Cabaret. The singers were all veterans of the cabaret and Broadway scenes, and it was fun to watch them cheer each other on.

Performers included KT Sullivan and Jeff Harner, Liz Callaway and her sister Anne Hampton Callaway, Karen Oberlin and Steve Ross, Karen Mason and Paul Rolnick, Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano, Gabrielle Stravelli and Pat O’Leary. All of them excellent, and all accompanied on the piano by the talented Alex Rybeck, who also composed some of the performers’  songs.

You can see and hear vocalist Gabrielle Stravelli in the YouTube clip above, singing “Goody Goody” at a previous performance. She performed the song at the benefit as well, and her interpretation at the benefit was even sharper and wilder.  She let loose, scat singing and improvising fearlessly, getting to the vindictive core of the song’s lyric:

“So you met someone who
set you back on your heels,
goody goody!
So you met someone and
now you know how it feels,
goody goody!”

I think anyone who heard that performance will think twice about ever crossing Ms. Stravelli. (Only joking, joking, Stravelli!) Afterwards, she said, “What can I say?–I love singing revenge songs–I’m Sicilian!”

Thanks Dave Kenney and all the terrific performers for providing such a Goody Goody time.