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Monday, December 6, 2010

Santa's Beard: Christmas popnugget

When I was just a yittle boy we had a copy of The Beach Boys' Christmas on tape cassette. As a certified (or certifiable) Brian Wilson/Beach Boys fan, I wore that tape out until it warbled.

There were several Brian Wilson originals on that album, the most famous of which is "Little Saint Nick." Only slightly less well known is "Santa's Beard", a brilliantly arranged popnugget about a guy taking his younger brother to see a department store Santa Claus. It's fun to imagine the lyric is autobiographical--Brian taking younger brother Denny to see "the man with all the toys".

The chord progression in the "I wanna see Santa Claus, the real, real Santa" run that opens the song and recurs, always blows me away. "Santa's Beard" is an exemplary exhibition of Brian's best Beach Boys vocal arrangements. Enjoy! And Merry Christmas!

First Snowfall - Gary Marks

Gary Marks' 1973 self-produced album GATHERING is a cult-classic at best, quietly respected at least, but is one of my top-twenty all-time favorite albums.

The album features a young John Scofield, pianist Michael Cochrane and vibraphonist David Samuels, supplying warm and shifting fusion accompaniment beneath Marks' acoustic guitar, which at times is an ethereal, start-stop timed rhythm guitar, and at others exhibits folksy finger-picked arrangements. All of that beneath Marks' experimental melodies and fantastic, poetic lyrics.

It's a record I really wish I had on vinyl--in fact the CD sounds like it was recorded from vinyl, bypassing a remastering of the original tapes. I may be wrong about that, but particularly on the track "Him Sometimes" you can hear the hisses and pops of an original LP.

Anyway, today was the first it's snowed in NYC, and I've been listening to Christmas music with Molly for days, so this song is doubly appropriate because it mentions Christmas--“Every November day is like Christmas. That's what you've been saying lately baby, and lately I agree."

Scofield-led climax beginning at minute 3:30 or so. Enjoy!