Monday, December 22, 2008

Sickness and singing

Sadly, my time off for Christmas has begun with several days of sickness. Why does our body wait until we have some free time to give up on us? It doesn't seem right. School let out Friday and that very night I began to feel horrible. Saturday day was miserable and there was little sleep that night as I made the trek from the bed to the bathroom over and over. Relief did not come on the Sabbath so I missed my meetings and even today (Monday) I am weak and less than able to fulfill my duties for the season. It appears I may have a stomach flu bug and it just has to run its course but I DON'T LIKE IT one bit. When I'm king of the world, I will make it illegal for any bugs to infect us during our vacation times. They will only be allowed to afflict us during working days and the employers we work for must make adjustments in the way they do things to accommodate this change. And if the bugs don't like it, then they can go bother the other primates or mammals of this world. So there!!!

As I sit around being miserable, I have the opportunity to listen to a great deal of Christmas music coming from our radio. Mostly it's pretty good but I have noticed that there are some arrangers, composers and performers who do much better than others. For instance, most every Christmas carol arranged by Chip Beck (Mannheim Steamroller) or Kurt Bestor is excellent. Even some of the songs that have been on the bottom of my favorites list can be made enjoyable with the right hand at the helm. I have never really liked 'O Holy Night' but the productions by both of these artists are very enjoyable and move way up my favorites list. And anything that Karen Carpenter sang (she has passed on for those of you not aware) is very pleasant to the ear.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for many of the 'modern' performers that ply their trades. And I think I have discovered the reason so many are distasteful to the ear. One young lady, singing a quaint little carol, was unable to decide which of the many notes in the scale of music should be used for her rendering so she seemed determined to use them all. Her "warbling" became so obnoxious and difficult to endure that I finally had to turn off the music. Most singers of the modern age seem to feel it is better to cast about, looking for the right note and never settling on anything in particular, rather than choosing one tone and sticking with it. Even performers who have better control are prone to wander about, letting us guess where they might eventually land in their search for quality music. If you listen to those who are trained in real music, you will seldom hear a note that slides or is indefinite in its performance (I am currently listening to Garth Brooks as he sings 'God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen' and he slides on almost every note he sings). Maybe that is why I enjoy performers like Karen Carpenter, Neil Diamond (who doesn't really sing but still hits the notes) Andy Williams, Josh Groban and others. They act like they know where they are going and make sure they get there with good quality. I suppose the younger generation may consider this being nit-picky but I believe it is a sign of good quality singing.

While I am on the subject, I have a bone to pick with some performers on their choice of music. I greatly enjoy most of the music Josh Groban offers on his albums, but when he delves into the popular songs, he is stepping to an area his voice does not fit. His rendition of 'A Bridge Over Troubled Waters' is almost painful to endure and I cringe when he tortures 'Starry, Starry Night'. Someone needs to help these very talented folks remember what genre of music they are designed to share. Oh, I know there are guys like Michael Buble' who can do most anything but they are more rare than people want to believe. I mean, can you imagine James Taylor trying to sing something from Phantom of the Opera? Or Ludacris crooning like Frank Sinatra? And what if Alan Jackson decided to branch out and sing some of the music from Les Miserables? Performers need to be selective where they use their voices so they don't look ridiculous doing things that don't fit their style.

OK, I know this is something I shouldn't bring up, but when I hear Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow or Neil Diamond singing Christmas carols, I want to giggle a little bit. Like I said, I shouldn't but I do. And one last thing!!! Right now the radio is playing "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music and they are calling it a Christmas song. WHAT does that song have to do with Christmas? OK, that's enough on music for one day…but don't be surprised if the subject comes up again.

I was going to get a little more introspective but I think I will save that for next time. I hope all have a wonderful Christmas and remember the reason we celebrate these special days. The Lord Jesus Christ has come to THIS world and we have been blessed by His presence, even though it took place 2000+ years ago. His message of peace and love for all mankind is the substance of what the Gospel teaches us all. May we learn from Him and find our lives more like His so that we may be with Him. He is our Lord and Redeemer and the Light of our lives: The only Light that can take away the gloom of this mortal, imperfect world and bring us to God our Father. I love Christ and the Father and will follow Them thru Eternity. Merry Christmas to you all. MW

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