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Category Archives: Music

Dick Haymes – Crooners of the Past

Dick Haymes 1918-1980

Dick Haymes was born on September 13, 1918  in Buenos Aires, Argentina as Richard Benjamin Haymes. He died on March 28, 1980 at the age of 61.

He was considered to be one of the best baritone singers of his era and also acted in numerous films. He first appeared in the movie Mutiny On The Bounty in 1935, as an uncredited actor. Nine years would pass, before he appeared in the movie Four Jills and a Jeep in 1944.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ASc1-we4gI

Dick Haymes is seen singing in this clip from State Fair.

Meanwhile, he had sung with the Harry James Orchestra starting in 1939.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mx1gdfs_3lc&list=PLUdmMccuxH2HosdozefrE5eUqPKIsmAKd

Dick Haymes singing Laura, who makes me wish there were singers today, that are half as good as Haymes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WW6Jd7zVpxM

Dick Haymes singing with Helen Forrest the standard It Had to be You.

 Haymes was not successful at marriage having been married six times. His first marriage to Edith Harper was annulled, because she told him she was pregnant, when she was not pregnant. His second marriage to actress Joanne Dru lasted almost eight years.

His third marriage to Rita Hayworth last a little more than two years. He then married actress Fran Jeffries and that marriage lasted just slightly more than six years. However his last marriage to Wendy Smith lasted 14 years and only ended upon his death in 1980. They were married but separated when he died.

He also battled alcohol abuse problems and financial debt.

Haymes received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, with one being award for recording and the other for his five years on radio.

His brother-in-law Peter Marshall was the sister of Joanne Dru, who was the second wife of Haymes.

This Is Always

This is Always is my only Dick Haymes music in my collection.

Track Listings

1. You Can’t Be True Dear – Dick Haymes
2. In Love In Vain – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
3. I Wish I Knew – Dick Haymes
4. You Make Me Feel So Young – Dick Haymes
5. Some Sunday Morning – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
6. What Do I Have To Do (To Make You Love Me) – Dick Haymes
7. All Through The Day – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
8. Do You Love Me – Dick Haymes
9. It’s You Or No One – Dick Haymes
10. Tomorrow Is Forever – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
11. A Little Imagination – Dick Haymes
12. This Is Always – Dick Haymes
13. Nature Boy – Dick Haymes
14. Together – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
15. As If I Didn’t Have Enough On My Mind – Dick Haymes
16. That’s For Me – Dick Haymes
17. It’s Magic – Dick Haymes
18. Love Letters – Dick Haymes
19. The More I See You – Dick Haymes
20. I’ll Buy That Dream – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
21. It Might As Well Be Spring – Dick Haymes
22. Oh What It Seemed To Be – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
23. Laura – Dick Haymes
24. Till The End Of Time – Dick Haymes
25. It Had To Be You – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest

Dick Haymes may have died 35 years, but he left a legacy of his music and movies for generations to come.

 

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Beach Boys: 54 Years and Counting

Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, Mike Love, Dennis Wilson and Carl Wilson

There have been some great pop singing groups, over the last 54 years, but my favorite would have to be the Beach Boys. I saw them in concert at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii at the Conroy Bowl in the 1960’s. I can’t pinpoint what year, but can say they put on a great concert that night.

Heard a great story about the Beach Boys, on a documentary a few minutes ago. Brian Johnston, who would join the group in 1965 told about a lady, who asked Brian if they were the beach boys, and he said “Yes we are”. So she told them she needed a table and a couple of chairs. It was a humbling experience, to know someone didn’t even know they were a singing group.

Brian Wilson 72 years old

BRIAN WILSON 

Brian Wilson was the leader of the Beach Boys and his songwriting skills enabled them, to still be active 54 years, after they were first founded in Hawthorne, California. However, the Beach Boys only had four #1 hits in their career with I Get Around in 1963 and Help Me Rhonda in 1964. Two years later in 1966 they would have their next #1 hit in Good Vibrations. 22 years would pass, before their last #1 hit Kokomo went to the top of the charts.

He mostly focused on surfing music from 1961-1965, but the Beach Boys rarely recorded surfing music after 1965.

Brian was the quarterback on his high school football team, and also played baseball was was a cross country runner.

The stress of writing, producing and concerts became too much for Brian to handle. He had a nervous breakdown on a plane flying from LA to Houston and decided to come off the road. However, he started taking LSD after coming off the road and got his inspiration for California Girls during the time he was into LSD.

His use of drugs expanded to cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines and psychedelics. Mickey Dolenz recalls taking LSD with Brian, John Lennon and Harry Nilsson in the 1970’s. Drugs continued to create problems for Brian, and he was alleged to have offered drugs to his children.

Brian has been hallucinating for the last 50 years, since he first started taking psychedelic drugs in 1965.

However, he continues to appear in concert mostly as a solo artist.

Al Jardine 72 years old

AL JARDINE

Al Jardine joined the Beach Boys, then left them twice, but still played with them in each calendar year, since their inception from 1961-1998. Jardine met Brian Wilson at Hawthorne High School in Hawthorne, California, when they both played for the football team.

Folk music was Al’s passion, but he met with resistance, when he tried to push the Beach Boys into being a folk band. He sang lead on the #1 hit Help Me Rhonda. He is the one that suggested that the Beach Boys record the Mamas and Papa’s hit California Dreamin’ which peaked at #8 on the charts.

Carl Wilson 1946-1998

CARL WILSON

Carl Wilson was a musician, who could play seven instruments, and his lead singing on God Only Knows shows how talented of a singer he was. He was heavily influenced musically, by Chuck Berry and the Beach Boys sound had a Chuck Berry guitar sound.

He became the leader of the band in concerts, after Brian came off the road in 1965. Carl was disillusioned in 1981, with the Beach Boys lack of focus,  and left the group, to be a solo artist that year. He would declare himself, to be a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War.

His lifetime smoking habit since he was 13 caused him, to have lung cancer, that was diagnosed in 1997. Carl continued to perform with the Beach Boys, even while undergoing chemotherapy. He would sit while performing, except for standing to sing God Only Knows. 

He died on February 6, 1998, while surrounded by his family, which included his wife Gina, who was the daughter of Dean Martin.

Dennis Wilson 1944-1983

DENNIS WILSON

Dennis Wilson actually lived the surfing lifestyle depicted in their early surf music. He was reluctant at first to sing with his brothers, but later became the drummer for the Beach Boys. His drumming skills were limited, so his brother Brian would hire drummers for the studio recording sessions.

He would be a distraction sometimes onstage. I watched the Live From Knebworth DVD of their concert at Knebworth England, and in during that concert he was intent on distracting Mike Love on stage.  His main claim to fame is that he co-wrote You Are So Beautiful with Billy Preston.

His connection with Charles Manson is told in this paragraph from his Wikipedia writeup:

In 1968, Dennis Wilson was driving through Malibu when he noticed two female hitchhikers, Patricia Krenwinkel and Ella Jo Bailey. He picked them up and dropped them off at their destination.[3] Later on Wilson noticed the same two girls hitchhiking again. This time he took them to his home at 14400 Sunset Boulevard near Will Rogers Park. Wilson then went to a recording session. When he returned at around 3 a.m., he was met in his driveway by a stranger, Charles Manson. When Wilson walked into his home, about a dozen people were occupying the premises, most of them female. Wilson became fascinated by Manson and his followers; the “Manson Family” lived with Wilson for a period of time afterwards at his expense. In late 1968, Wilson reported to journalists:

I told them [the girls] about our involvement with the Maharishi and they told me they too had a guru, a guy named Charlie who’d recently come out of jail after 12 years. … He drifted into crime, but when I met him I found he had great musical ideas. We’re writing together now. He’s dumb, in some ways, but I accept his approach and have learnt from him.

Things got worse with Manson and his followers and he eventually had to move out of his own house:

As Dennis Wilson became increasingly aware of Manson’s volatile nature and growing tendency to violence, he finally made a break from the friendship by simply moving out of the house and leaving Manson there. When Manson subsequently sought further contact (and money), he left a bullet with Wilson’s housekeeper to be delivered with a cryptic message, which Wilson perceived as a threat. In August 1969, Manson Family members perpetrated the Tate/LaBianca murders. Wilson rarely discussed his involvement with the Manson Family, and usually became upset when the subject was broached.

His life came to a tragic end on December 28, 1983, when he died at the age of 39 in a drowning accident, probably caused by drinking prior to the drowning.

Mike Love 73 Years Old

MIKE LOVE

Mike Love has been the front man for the Beach Boys and was the cousin of Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson. His lead singing has been instrumental, in the success of the Beach Boys. He is the one Beach Boy, that is not seen playing a musical instrument during the concerts.

He was the co-writer on their #1 hit Kokomo. His interest in transcendental meditation began in 1967. Brian wrote some lyrics for songs on their Friends influenced by his TM interest, but the album sold very few copies.

When the Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Mike made some uncomplimentary remarks about Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney:

Also in 1988, he, along with the other founding members of the Beach Boys, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where he made an infamous hostile speech, calling out, among others, Mick Jaggerand Paul McCartney. He was, however, happy that Muhammad Ali was in attendance.

Mike has been married to Jacqueline Piesen since 1994. He had been married four times, before his current marriage.

Bruce Johnston 72 Years Old

BRUCE JOHNSTON

Bruce Johnston was not an original Beach Boy. He joined the group in April of 1965. He wrote the Barry Manilow hit I Write The Songs, which won the Song of the Year Award Grammy and has been recorded by 200 artist. This happened after he had left the Beach Boys in 1972. He returned in 1978 and has been with the Beach Boys in the last 37 years consecutively.

He was adopted by the William and Irene Johnston family and his father was president of Owl Rexall Drug Company in Los Angeles.

Bruce replaced Glen Campbell on the touring Beach Boys group. Campbell had filled in for Brian Wilson and Wilson needed a replacement for Campbell, so Johnston joined the group to play keyboards, guitar and harmonize and also played the saxophone.

Currently, Bruce is touring with Mike Love as the Beach Boys,since Mike owns the name, and had to sue Al Jardine for using the Beach Boys name for his group.

So the Beach Boys are now split into three acts, with Brian Wilson as a solo act, Mike and Bruce using the Beach Boys name and Al Jardine having his own group, and no longer using the Beach Boys name.

 

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American Idol Draws 4 Million Less Viewers

American Idol returns for its 14th season in 2015 with judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez

and Harry Connick, Jr., with Ryan Seacrest who has hosted the show since its inception.

American Idol started its 14th season, by drawing 4 million fewer viewers, than they attracted for the first show of Season 13. That was a decline of 25 percent from the Season 13 premiere. The show reached its peak in Season 6, when they attracted 37.44 million viewers for the premiere that year in 2007.

The premiere this year attracted 26 million fewer viewers, than watched the show in 2007.

Randy Jackson, who was a mentor during Season 13 won’t be seen in Season 14, unless it is in a guest appearance, since he is no longer employed by the show.

There should be no Coca-Cola cups at the judge’s table in Season 14, since Coca-Cola no longer is a sponsor.

The Voice Providing Competition

The Voice on NBC has attracted more viewers recently, than American Idol, but The Voice has had less success in launching careers of their winning contestants.

Season 8 of The Voice premieres on February 23, 2015, so the two shows will be on different nights.

I have watched American Idol since Season 2, so will probably go down with American Idol ship, when it sinks out of sight in the next year or two. I like the chairs turning around gimmick on The Voice, but not a fan of the battle rounds competition. Not to say it isn’t a good show….it is just my loyalty to American Idol  supersedes that of The Voice.

Aftermath for American Idol Winners

American Idol has had some winners like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, that have sold millions of albums, but then they have their share of singers like Phillip Phillips who made second albums, that didn’t sell nearly as well as their first album, as shown in this Billboard.com review of his sales for his second album:

Phillip Phillips, Behind the Light

First-Week Sales: 42,000

Previous Album’s First Week: The World From the Wrong Side of the Moon, 169,000

Year-to-Date Sales: 123,000

Why It Looks Bad: The American Idol champ’s debut was buoyed by a hit single, “Home,” something his second has yet to produce. And more than a regular artist, people expect a sophomore slump from an Idol champ — so his low first-week tally wasn’t a good look.

Counterpoint: Like 50’s album, the year-to-date total sales for Behind the Lightaren’t terrible. In fact, with the holidays approaching, sales for Phillips’ second are higher than they’ve been in weeks, suggesting there’s life in the album yet.

Scotty McCreery is now 21, after winning Season 10 four years ago. His album and single sales have done well, with him his first album Clear Day going platinum and his second album Christmas With Scotty McCreery earning a gold album certification.

Caleb Johnson Season 13 Winner

Caleb Johnson, who won Season 13 has seen his singing career get off to a very slow start, as indicated by this entry about his first album at Wikipedia:

Chart performance

The album debuted on Billboard 200 at No. 24 with 11,000 copies sold in its debut week, giving him the distinction of having the lowest first week sales and inaugural chart position of any American Idol winner.[8]Johnson also has the distinction of being the first American Idol winner to have their Idol coronation song, “As Long as You Love Me,” fail to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

On the other hand Kelly Clarkson has released six albums and all six have gone platinum and have peaked at either #1, #2 or #3 on the album charts. She has recorded four #1 hits.

Carrie Underwood has recorded 12 #1 hits on the country charts.

It doesn’t seem possible that it has been 10 years, since Carrie Underwood won Season 4 of American Idol in 2005. All four of her albums have gone platinum. It is hard to believe, that she hasn’t recorded an album since 2012, so we should see another Carrie Underwood album released, in the not too distant future. Her 12 #1 hits is the most recorded by any of the American Idol winners.

Results Show Shortened To Half Hour

The Fox network will be shortening the Thursday night results show of American Idol, to half an hour in Season 14. It will be a welcome relief, to American Idol fans, who were tiring of all the filler used in the results show in past seasons. Ryan Seacrest won’t have so much time to stretch out the drama, of who will be going home that night.

Ryan Seacrest has promised that Season 14 will have great talent, but American Idol fans will believe that, when they see and hear the shows.

I personally believe this is the best set of judges since the debut of the show. It will be nice to not hear “Yo dog” and “In it to win it” in Season 14, even though we didn’t hear it in Season 13 either. It is a huge improvement over the train wreck of a judging panel, when Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey took their battle public and overshadowed the contestants, by their constant bickering.

The back stories for  the contestants are what make American Idol so great in my book. Like the blind man, who sang a Spanish song for Jennifer Lopez on last week’s show. He may not be the next American Idol, but he will be one of the highlights of Season 14 for me.

So far this season the focus has been more on the talented singers, and less on the singers who have no talent. We know the judges just see a small percent of the singers, since they have others, that weed out the less than prime-time ready singers.

The Voice may have passed American Idol in the ratings, but American Idol will be the show I watch, till it fades out for the last time.

By this time next year we should know if Season 14 has produced another Caleb Johnson or another Carrie Underwood, or a singer somewhere in the middle of the two singers.

 

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70 Years of Christmas Memories

 

This article could have been titled 62 Years of Christmas Memories, since my first memory of Christmas would be of 1952 Christmas, when we lived close to Louisiana College in PIneville,, Louisiana. My first memory is of the Christmas stockings that were not hung by the chimney with care, since we had no chimney, but they still were hung with care. I will never forget my mom staying up all night, to wrap presents and hang the stockings.

One of my favorite memories was going to S.H. Kress store in Alexandria and trying to make my money stretch enough to buy presents for everyone in the family, which consisted of mom, dad, two brothers and one sister at the time. It was fun wrapping the presents, even though my wrapping skills were rudimentary at best.

Another memory is the Christmas tree lighted up with lights. We bought our trees from the Lion’s Club, where they were sold in front of Huey P. Long Hospital on Main Street.

It was exciting to ride on the Boy’s Scouts float in the Christmas parade, when I was with the Pineville Boys Scouts.

 

I will never forget the miniature church that would be displayed every Christmas in downtown Alexandria. It was misplaced for a few years, but the last I knew it is back on display again .

City Hall lighted up for Christmas in the 1950’s.

This photo was taken from the 2013 Christmas parade in Pineville. I can remember some brutally cold nights, on the night of the Christmas parade over the years. I haven’t been to a Pineville Christmas parade for at least seven years now, but time can’t erase the memories of the ones I have seen.

The Alexandria water tower lighted up for Christmas has been another Christmas tradition for many years. It was easy to find since it could be seen from a distance.

 

Policemen Injured in Christmas Parade Accident

One Alexandria Christmas parade in 70’s had an accident, which I personally witnessed. A reserve sheriff’s deputy was talking to my mom, then said he had to get back to work. A couple of minutes later that same deputy directed a car on a side street onto the street where the parade was almost starting . However, a Alexandria policemen, on a motorcycle on the parade route was hit by the car. The policeman flew up in the air and landed on the car. He was seriously hurt and if I remember right the accident happened before the start of the parade. I will never forget the policeman going airborne, before landing on the car.

 

Annual Christmas Party at Louisiana College

It was a highlight for me every Christmas when the faculty of Louisiana College and their families would have their annual Christmas party.

 

Christmas Eve Services At Pineville Park Baptist Church

I miss the Christmas Eve services at Pineville Park Baptist Church on Christmas Eve. The lighted candles, the music and the words spoken by the pastor made it a special night, that I always looked forward to each year.

 

Christmas Lights in Pineville

It wasn’t Christmas in Pineville, until  the Christmas lights were put up during the Christmas season.

 

Family Altar On Christmas Morning

We always had our family altar, before we opened Christmas presents. My mom would read the devotional that day, from the Home Life magazine.

 

Christmas Bonuses

We would receive our Christmas bonus at the Alexandria Town Talk, for many years till Gannett bought the Town Talk and put a screeching halt to that nonsense. I was working for the Monroe Morning World in Monroe, Louisiana from 1974-1976 and will never forget the $10 Christmas bonus. It really wasn’t a $10 bonus, though since they took tax out of the $10, so the check was for $9 and a few cents left over.

 

Christmas With 8 Degree Weather

I will never forget one Christmas, when it was 8 degrees. The car wouldn’t start, when I tried to start it later that day, so I could go to work. I ended up walking the two miles, to the Town Talk and freezing in the cold wind.

 

Christmas In Hawaii

I spent three Christmases in Hawaii, while stationed at Schofield Barracks,  in 1963, 1964 and 1965, before being sent to Vietnam. I went to a USO show, that had performers singing I’ll Be Home For Christmas. It wasn’t a great song selection, since I didn’t want to be reminded, that I wouldn’t be going home that Christmas.

 

One of my favorite Christmas albums

 

Christmas Music

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the great Christmas music. O Holy Night is one of my favorite Christmas songs, with O Little Town of Bethlehem a close second.

My favorite secular Christmas songs are songs like The Christmas Song,  White Christmas, Blue Christmas, Please Come Home For Christmas and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. 

 

Bob Hope and Connie Stevens appearing in Bob Hope Christmas Show in 1970.

Andy Williams on Christmas Show

Christmas Specials On Television

The Bob Hope Christmas specials were another favorite part of Christmas. I was impressed that he missed many Christmases at home, to entertain American troops around the world. I also enjoyed the Andy Williams Christmas specials each year.

 

Old Time Radio Christmas Programs

I collect old-time radio shows and some of my favorite shows are the Christmas episodes, of shows like Fibber McGee and Molly, Jack Benny and the Great Gildersleeve. One of my all time favorites is A Daddy for Christmas, which was heard on Family Theater.

This is the funniest show I have ever heard on old-time radio. It is the first Fred Allen radio show ever broadcast from 1932 and is now 82 years old. Best part is when a speaker gives a pep talk to the employees of the Mammoth Department Store. Fast forward through the music at the first to get to show. It can be heard on You Tube. You can be glad you weren’t around in 1932, because the music is terrible, but just fast forward through it, especially the lady that is making a futile attempt at singing. It is sad they didn’t have the technology in 1932,  to rid the show of all the horrific singing.

Funniest Christmas Show Ever

The Jack Benny Christmas program is hilarious, and the dialogue between Jack Benny and Mel Blanc shown in photo is priceless. The show is funny from start to finish.

Best Christmas Movie

It’s A Wonderful Life is the best of all the Christmas movies, but that is only my opinion and my opinion with three dollars will buy a gallon of gas, so it is not really worth that much. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are the most recognizable stars in the movie, but Frank Faylen, who portrayed the father of Dobie Gillis, in the show of the same name was a cab driver in the movie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Favorite Christmas Songs

 

I have been hearing the same Christmas songs, for most of my life, but never tire of them. I know I will leave out some great Christmas songs, but will list some of my all-time favorite Christmas songs with name and writer/writers of the songs. 

White Christmas 1940 – Irving Berlin 

This is one of most well-known Christmas songs. 50 million copies of this song have been sold, which makes it the best-selling song of all time.

Irving Berlin wrote White Christmas in 1940, but there is some question, if that is the correct date. Berlin told his secretary, that he had just written the best song ever written. That was saying something, since Berlin had written a lot of very well-known songs over the year. Bing Crosby was the first to sing this song, when he sang it on Christmas Day 1941, on his radio show. It is ironic that the song was first sung just 18 days, after Pearl Harbor had been bombed.

500 versions of the song have been recorded.

Blue Christmas 1948 – Billy Hayes, J.W. Johnson

Doye O’Dell was the first singer to record Blue Christmas, but Ernest Tubb took it to #1 on the Most Played Country Juke Box Records chart, in January of 1950. Elvis Presley recorded it in 1957. I like both the Ernest Tubb and Elvis Presley versions best of the over 65 recorded versions.

O Holy Night 1843 – Placide Cappeau

It is amazing that the songwriter Placide Cappeau was an atheist, and it is surprising, that an atheist could write such power words and music. This is one of my favorite Christmas songs, to hear sung at Christmas. John Sullivan Dwight, who was an Unitarian minister wrote the song for singing in 1855. O Holy Night was the second song, to be heard in radio history. Tenor Enrico Caruso recorded, what is the most famous version of the song in 1916. It isn’t Christmas, if this song is not heard at least once, during the Christmas season.

Please Come Home For Christmas 1960 – Charles Brown, Eugene Redd

I am surprised that Please Come Home For Christmas peaked at #76 on the Hot 100 Billboard chart. Some people refer to the song as “Bells Will Be Ringing”. The Eagles recorded the song in 1978 and it went to #18 on the Billboard chart. I never get tired of hearing this song sung and it starts like this:

Bells will be ringing the sad, sad news
Oh what a Christmas to have the blues
My baby’s gone, I have no friends
To wish me greetings once again

Choirs will be singin’ ‘Silent Night’
Christmas carols by candlelight
Please come home for Christmas
Please come home for Christmas
If not for Christmas by New Year’s night

Friends and relations send salutation
Sure as the stars shine above
But this is Christmas, yes Christmas my dear
It’s the time of year to be with the one you love

I’ll Be Home For Christmas 1943 – Kim Gannon, Walter Kent, Buck Ram

Bing Crosby was the first to record I’ll Be Home For Christmas in 1943. It was recorded during World War II, to honor servicemen overseas, who weren’t able to come home for Christmas. I know firsthand, how this song hits home, since I spent Christmas in Hawaii in 1963, 1964 and 1965. I played the song on my record player in Hawaii, but it wasn’t well received by the other soldiers in the barracks, who said they didn’t want to be reminded, that they would be going home for Christmas. The Crosby version peaked at # 3 on the Billboard chart.

Astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell requested this song be played, while on a Gemini 7 mission, in December of 1965. My personal favorite recording of the song was by Johnny Mathis.

O Little Town of Bethlehem 1868 – Phillips Brooks, Lewis Redner

Phillips Brooks was inspired by visiting Bethlehem in 1865, and three years later in 1868 wrote the words to O Little Town of Bethlehem. His church organist Lewis Redner wrote the tune for the song. I like this song so much, that I have sang it often, over the years for special music at church. The song conjures up images of how it was on the night Christ was born in Bethlehem.

Christmas In My Hometown

There is little information about Christmas In My Hometown, but did find out the writer was Lassaye Van Buren Holmes. My favorite version of the song was the Bobby Vinton version, but Charley Pride also recorded an excellent version of the song. This song reminds me of the times we used to travel, to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas with family, as far as 200 miles away over the years.

Christmas in Dixie 1982 – Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry, Randy Owen, Mark Herndon

By now in New York City, there’s snow on the ground
And out in California, the sunshine’s falling down
And, maybe down in Memphis, Graceland’s all in lights
And in Atlanta, Georgia, there’s peace on earth tonight

Christmas in Dixie, it’s snowin’ in the pines
Merry Christmas from Dixie, to everyone tonight

It’s windy in Chicago the kids are out of school
There’s magic in Motown the city’s on the move
In Jackson, Mississippi, to Charlotte, Caroline
And all across the nation, it’s the peaceful Christmas time

Christmas in Dixie, it’s snowin’ in the pines
Merry Christmas from Dixie, to everyone tonight

And from Fort Payne, Alabama
God bless y’all, we love ya
Happy New Year, good night
Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas tonight

Christmas in Dixie not only had great words in the song written, by the members of Alabama in 1982, but also made me think of what it was like living in Knoxville, Tennessee, during the Christmases of 2007, 2008 and 2009. This is the kind of song, that will take a listener back in time, to the good old days in the south, when families spent Christmas together.

The Christmas Song 1944 – Bob Wells, Mel Torme

The Christmas Song was first recorded by the Nat King Cole Trio in 1946. This song is special for me, since I was born in 1944 and the song was written that year, by Bob Wells and Mel Torme. It is strange, that Torme wrote the song, but didn’t record it himself till later.

The song has been recorded from artists like Trace Adkins, to Justin Bieber, to Garth Brooks, to James Brown, to Glen Campbell, to Frank Sinatra, to Bob Dylan, to New Kids on the Block, to George Strait. My favorite version is by the great Johnny Mathis, who has been recording for 58 years now and is 79 years old.

Jingle Bell Rock 1958 – Joseph Carleton Beal, James Ross Boothe

Bobby Helms recorded Jingle Bell Rock in 1957 and it was released in 1958. Brenda Lee later recorded it. This is one song you can almost be sure of hearing, at least once during the Christmas season. It has been recorded numerous times, by artists from many different genres of music, from Alvin and the Chipmunks to Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.

All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth 1944 – Donald Yetter Gardner

Donald Yetter Gardner wrote the novelty song All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth in 1944. He was a second grade teacher, who asked the kids in his class, what they wanted for Christmas, and noticed most of them were missing at least one tooth. It gave him the idea to write the song and he was surprised it became a national hit.

Spike Jones and his madcap band the City Slickers were the first to record the song. It wasn’t until 1947, when Spike and his band recorded the song.

The song has been recorded by a diverse range of singers from Alvin and the Chipmunks to George Strait. I just can’t imagine George Strait singing this song. The writer Gardner preferred the Nat King Cole version. The song went to #1 twice for Spike Jones and the City Slickers.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – Tommy Connor

Jimmy Boyd was 13 years old when he recorded I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus in 1952. The song went to #1 on the Billboard Singles chart in December of 1952. The song was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church in Boston, until Boyd explained the premise of the song to the Archdiocese and the ban was lifted.

                                                                                                                    Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1949 – Johnny Marks

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was based on the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer story written for Montgomery Ward. Johnny Marks wrote the song in 1949 and Harry Brannon first sang it on a radio program in November, then  . Gene Autry recorded it in December of 1949. The song made history, by becoming the first song to fall completely off the chart, after reaching #1.

Bing Crosby recorded the song in 1950 and the song reached #14 on the Billboard chart. Dolly Parton and the Rugrats were two of many singers or groups to record the song over the years.

Jimmy Boyd would appear a few years later, in the Bachelor Father television series and is shown the above photo, with John Forsythe and Noreen Corcoran, whose character was his love interest in the show.

Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful) 1600’s or 1700’s – Writer unknown

Adeste Fideles or O  Come All Ye Faithful, as it is known in the United States has an unverified history, so there is no known date of it being written, nor is the identity of the writer known. This article explains, why the origin of this so song is so questionable. One thing that is known is that it is one of the most sung songs in churches and also sung by carolers.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/3674120/The-story-behind-the-carol-O-come-all-ye-faithful.html

I know there will be a lot of great songs left out of this article, but time restraints restrict me from writing any longer, since this has taken about three hours to put together.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

 

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Classic Southern Gospel Quartets – The Blackwood Brothers

This record album was my favorite Blackwood Brothers album. It was released in 1964 and my favorite

songs on the album were I’ve Got To Walk That Lonesome Road, The Old Country Church, God Made

                   A Way, In Times Like These and Precious Memories. I played this album so much I wore out grooves on

the record and had to order a new copy.

The Blackwood Brothers Quartet bus which can be found at the Southern Gospel Music Museum at Dollywood.

The original Blackwood Brothers quartet was formed 80 years ago in 1934. The group was founded in Choctaw County, Mississippi and some of the descendants of that group are stil singing, under the Blackwood Brothers Quartet name in 2014.

Roy Blackwood, James Blackwood, Doyle Blackwood and R.W. Blackwood was the original configuration for the Blackwood Brothers in 1934.

Tragedy For Blackwood Brothers in 1954

Tragedy struck the Blackwood Brothers Quartet, when two of its members R.W. Blackwood and Bill Lyles were killed, in a plane crash on June 30, 1954. Cecil Blackwood would later replace R.W. Blackwood and J.D. Sumner replaced Bill Lyles as bass after the plane crash.

The Absolute Gospel website has an excellent article describing the accident and the aftermath:

http://absolutelygospel.com/index.php?/content/articles/3948

Trendsetters For Southern Gospel Innovations

The Blackwood Brothers were the first southern gospel group, to customize a bus for traveling to concerts.

They also founded the National Quartet Convention which started in 1957 and is still active 57 years later and is held every September.

James Blackwood 1919-2002

I was fortunate to see James Blackwood sing with the Blackwood Brothers many times over the years, when they performed in concerts in the Central Louisiana area. He was an excellent spokesman for the group, during their concerts and was one of my favorite Blackwood Brothers singers.

J.D. Sumner 1924-1998

J.D. Sumner is credited by the Guinness Book of World Records, as singing the lowest note ever sung. I remember in one Bill Gaither video, that he was singing a song, when the organist started to play faster, than Sumner wanted him to. The look he gave the organist was priceless. It may or may not have been a prank on Sumner, but if it was a prank it was not well received.

Two of my favorite Blackwood Brothers Quartet songs featuring Sumner were I’ve Got To Walk Than Lonesome Road and There’s A Light. 

J.D. Sumner on stage with Elvis Presley in 1976, which was a year before Elvis died.

J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet often toured with Elvis Presley. Still not sure if southern gospel was represented well during this time, since they were singing so much secular music during these years. J.D. Sumner gave credit to Elvis for helping him stop being an alcoholic. Shame J.D. couldn’t return the favor and convince Elvis to stop using drugs. Instead J.D. was more of an enabler and more or less discounted reports, that Elvis was a user, when he debunked those reports at the funeral for Elvis. That was before the extent of drug usage was known by the general public, but Sumner with his close proximity to Elvis probably knew exactly what Elvis was doing with drugs.

The golden era of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet are long gone, but their music will live on for years to come. I have a collection of their music from the early days till later years on cassette. It is great to hear the gospel style singing and piano playing, that most of us grew up with in the 50’s and 60’s.

James and J.D. and most of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet singers of the past are gone, but they will never be forgotten.

 

 

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Dick Van Dyke – Eight Decades of Entertaining

Dick Van Dyke in a scene from Sgt. Bilko television series in 1957.

Dick Van Dyke was born as Richard Wayne Van Dyke on December 13, 1925 in West Plains, Missouri. Van Dyke had considered becoming a minister at one time, but decided to become an entertainer, after appearing on stage in a high school play.

His first job was as a disc jockey on a local radio station in Danville, Illinois. He later traveled across the country as part of a comedy act, till he was hired by WDSU TV in New Orleans as an entertainer. That job led to a job with the CBS network on their morning program. He anchored the program, which also featured Walter Cronkite as his newsman.

Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera in Bye Bye Birdie.

His big break came when he appeared in the Broadway play Bye Bye Birdie playing the part of Albert Peterson and won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor.

Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke.

Then in 1961 he was hired to portray Rob Petrie on the Dick Van Dyke Show which ran from 1961 to 1966 and 158 episodes were filmed. The show was on the brink of cancellation, before it caught on with television viewers. Then five years later he starred in the New Dick Van Dyke Show which ran for 72 episodes from 1971-1974.

It was about this time, that Van Dyke publicly announced he had been an alcoholic for 25 years.

1988 would see Van Dyke appear in his third show, with his name in the title, when he appeared in the Van Dyke Show, that only lasted for 10 episodes.

Dick Van Dyke portraying Doctor Mark Sloan on Diagnosis:Murder

His next starring role in a television series was when he portrayed Dr. Mark Sloan, in Diagnosis Murder. It would run for 180 episodes, which was even more episodes, than the original Dick Van Dyke Show had run.

Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.

He was best-known for his movies Bye Birdie (1963), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1964) and Mary Poppins (1968). He has appeared in three of the Night of the Museum movies.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb movie, in which Van Dyke appears was recently completed this year and another movie Life is Boring is in post-production at the time of this writing. He also appeared in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which was released in October of 2014 by the Walt Disney Pictures.

Van Dyke is now in his eighth decade of entertaining.

Dick Van Dyke and Arlene Silver don’t seem to be concerned about their 46 year age difference.

Dick Van Dyke was married to Marjorie Willett from 1948-1984, then lived with Michelle Triola from 1976 till her death in 2009. Van Dyke reportedly paid Triola $600,000, which was the amount she had sued actor Lee Marvin for in a palimony suit, but the court ruled against her. That ended Van Dyke’s marriage to Marjorie Willett, when she learned about his payment to Triola. Van Dyke has been married to Arlene Silver for the last two years. She is 46 years younger than Van Dyke and is about 44 years old now, while he will be 89 in December.

Imdb.com has some very interesting trivia about Dick Van Dyke. These are just a few of them since there 106 in all.

Van Dyke turned down a chance to host Price is Right. If he had taken the job he may never have become an actor, when considering, that game show host for the most part stay game show hosts.

He and his first wife Margie were so poor after their wedding, that they lived in their car for a while.

Was a heavy smoker for 50 years before quitting. He used to smoke 60 cigarettes a day.

Was 36 when he appeared in his first movie.

Received a lemon cake at Christmas for 16 years from actor Charles Bronson.

Producer Sheldon Leonard gave Van Dyke the lead role, in the Dick Van Dyke Show, after seeing him in stage production of Bye Bye Birdie.

For more trivia and quotes from Van Dyke:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001813/bio?ref_=nm_dyk_qt_sm#quotes

 

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