For the sixth year, the Lambertville Historical Society is conducting a fundraiser that showcases the Lambertville area’s best musicians performing traditional and original holiday songs. There are 19 songs on the CD, “Season’s Greetings from Lambertville 2017,” which can be previewed and bought here. The contributors will perform their songs and others at three concerts. The first is from 2-6 pm this Sunday, November 19, at The Elks Lodge, 66 Wilson Street, Lambertville. There is a $5 suggested donation. All proceeds benefit the historical society.
We asked the artists about their memories of and thoughts about holiday music. Two of the performers at the upcoming concert at The Elks Lodge responded as follows:
The Jane Paul Project
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
My Dad was a huge big band fan. He actually sang with a band in his youth and always told us the story of being at the Paramount Theater in New York in 1939 when the Benny Goodman Band came up out of the stage floor swinging. Radio was big in our house. We had WNEW playing American standards all day—it was family competition to “name that tune”—song, singer and band—within the first few notes.
Christmas music too was all about the standards. I remember singing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in a church concert on a Sunday morning. It was very exciting because it was going to be broadcast on the local radio station. That morning, my mother had a medical issue that had to be dealt with immediately. So Dad took Mom to the doctor and sat in the car so he could hear me sing. He always said it was wonderful but of course, he was my Dad!
We are all shaped by our past and I still love all the great secular Christmas standards—many ironically written by Jewish composers. Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” and Livingston and Evans’ “Silver Bells” are two all-time favorites. But perhaps the most beautiful of all is a religious song, “Silent Night.” I remember the annual Christmas Eve service at church when the lights were turned off and we all sang that song by candlelight. Magical.
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” has always been one of my favorite holiday standards, but I think that I now understand it better. It has been beautifully recorded by so many great talents but in my opinion, no one really captured what I think the song is truly about. It’s a very sad song about impending loss. The lyric encourages the listener to live in the present as there may not be a future. The original lyrics were so very dark that they were changed for the film, “Meet me in St Louis” to lyricist Hugh Martin’s chagrin. So, on this year’s CD we offer our take on it—very simple and understated and sad—as I feel it best reflects the intention of the lyric.
Santa P and the Elves
“Nevertheless, It’s Christmas”
Whether you’re a kid or a kid inside, it’s hard not to fall in love with the recording of the barking dogs singing “Jingle Bells.” I have always marveled that an idea as radical as “Peace on Earth, Good Will to All” could become so powerful that people would need to be distracted from it by unrestrained mercantilism. I see the commercial nature of the holidays as a beautiful reaction to the fear that “Peace on Earth” cannot ever be achieved. Black Friday is our culture’s meltdown, it’s the way we collectively say, “We need a hug.” The barking dogs don’t care about mercantilism, they never did. They are singing pure processed joy. They have nothing to offer us but the hug that we need.
We will post reminiscences and reflections from other musicians soon. We hope to see you at The Elks Lodge!