Category Archives: Music

The Great Russian Nutcracker

Tonight I saw the Moscow Ballet’s presentation of The Nutcracker, officially the  Great Russian Nutcracker. I had always wanted to see The Nutcracker, so this was a bucket-list item for me and it did not disappoint. The dancing, the costumes, the colors and sparkle were all absolutely amazing, a real treat for the senses.

My favorite part was watching Elena Petrichenko and Sergey Chumakov perform this dance. They did a slight variation tonight, but they also did everything shown here from what I can tell. I can’t stop thinking of how exquisitely beautiful they were. Moments like this are what I live for. Enjoy!

Winter Songs

Just noticed that we can link directly to the Holidailies prompts. D’OH!

What non-holiday song reminds you of winter or the holiday season, and why?

This one makes me think of skating on the small lakes in my hometown as a kid:

Pretty much anything by Nox Arcana makes me think of winter, even when the song is not about winter or on one of the albums with a winter theme. I first heard this on a particularly frigid night while putting together a jigsaw puzzle and sipping a glass of red wine as snow fell outside.

I love their spin on “Scarborough Fair.”

Scent is the most direct conjurer of memories, but in some ways, I think sound is just as powerful. Think of a parent’s or beloved’s voice, a pet’s call, church bells, toast popping up, wind and rain, heels on the floor or pavement, or ad jingles. Granted, the response to sound is probably more a product of conditioning (ie., Pavlov’s dog), but that’s not such a bad thing because you can condition yourself away from negative associations. A friend of mine once mentioned that she couldn’t listen to Sarah McLachlan’s album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy because it reminded her too much of an ex-boyfriend and caused her pain. That album has an eerie undertone that makes me think of vampires, so I suggested that she think of them instead. Now she can listen to the album again.

Maybe conditioning is why I’m not too keen on holiday songs made hip. The classics take me back to childhood and a feeling of safety, and they remind me of specific celebrations that were particularly fun or happy. Hearing the same words and basic melody rendered differently causes a disconnect where no disconnect is desired, so it’s irritating.

On that note, I’m off to listen to some winter music, no pun intended. It’s 60 degrees outside, but it will be wintry up in here!

Holiday songs made hip.

Today’s luck of the Holidailies click: Holiday songs made “hip.”

Oh boy, that’s such a loaded topic for me. My parents were born in the 1920s, so I grew up listening to Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett, Perry Como, Nat King Cole, Kate Smith, and of course, Vic Damone, as my mother knew him when she was in high school and he sang in the choir at the church where my parents married.

In fact, my mother wasn’t one for decorating and held off on it as long as possible—we did everything on Christmas Eve, from the lights to the tree, and it all came down the day after New Year’s—but the surefire way to get her motivated was to put this on the “hi-fi.”

Point is, I’m kind of fussy about holiday songs made hip. I’d just as soon try out new songs, as there may be a future classic among them. The Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick” and Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” are “old,” and in my book “classic,” but were “hip” when they came out, so I’m willing to give newer stuff a try. (And I realize I might be one of 14 people in the world who actually like “Wonderful Christmastime,” but the heart wants what the heart wants.)

Oh, I’ll still give new spins on old songs a try, just in case. But this can be risky. My ears bled for a week after hearing Bob Dylan’s album, “Christmas in the Heart” a few years ago. One of my buddies posted a photo of her reaction to it on Facebook. She put it on, listened, and snapped a picture of her first facial expression in response to it, so I took a cue from her and…

Actual reaction to hearing Bob Dylan's Christmas Album.

Actual reaction to hearing Bob Dylan’s Christmas album.

There is one notable exception to my “don’t mess with the old stuff” rule, however: I love the Cocteau Twins’ version of “Frosty the Snowman.” This might be an acquired taste because Liz Fraser’s style is just so out there, but that’s why I like it.

What say you? Are some songs sacrosanct? Or are you okay with new spins on old holiday favorites?