Christmas Music – too soon or never too much?

By Anita Garner

The debate about Christmas music starting too early has already begun on social media.  I spent years on the radio and all of us on the air worked from a playlist which we didn’t often get to select. Program directors and consultants and sometimes the station manager’s family decided what we played.  That last one isn’t a joke.

Just before in-earnest holiday madness began, Christmas songs were slowly merged into the playlist, but no matter when they started, someone on the air staff hated it.

Here’s a scene from a typical radio programming meeting, where on-air people wrestled with the Program Director.

PD: So guys – and Anita – you’ll notice on your playlist that we’re rotating one Christmas song each hour starting…

ME: …Couldn’t we play more than one each hour?

EVERYONE ELSE: No!

PD: And then by week three of the season, we’ll play four an hour.

ME: Couldn’t we play more than that?

EVERYONE ELSE: Shut up, Anita.

ME: Could I have more Christmas music just on MY show?

ON-AIR PERSON: I’ll be calling in sick.

ANOTHER ON-AIR PERSON: You can’t call in sick, because I’m scheduling all my dental work now. I’ll be gone for a month.

The foregoing is only slightly exaggerated. I haven’t met many people who like Christmas music as much as I do.  My personal Christmas music marathon begins when I say so and ends when I decide it ends and there are the occasional times during the year when I dip in for a song or two when I need a little Christmas.  There have been more than a few of those dips during this particular year.

It doesn’t take much to bring on the spirit.   I go over to You Tube and hear  guitarist, Chris Whiteman, play anything from his holiday collection, James Taylor singing Joni Mitchell’s “River”  and “In The Bleak Midwinter,”  (this version from “The Crown” on Netflix) Vince Guaraldi playing anything, and on and on.  A few favorite holiday songs and  lights that twinkle and the holiday season is right here, right now.

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It’s the lights. It’s the music. It’s the coffee. It’s the season.

By Anita Garner

I’m not a good shopper nor an artistic gift-wrapper and am sometimes running late before reaching full immersion in the spirit of the holidays.  However, I do feel fairly confident a few December rituals will eventually turn things around.  Early in the morning, while it’s still dark, I plug in the office lights, turn on the Christmas music and coffee my way toward daylight.  While Willie sings “Pretty Paper,” I’d love to share another couple of favorite spirit boosters.

Visiting the lights in whatever place makes a heart feel at home.  That works for me.  Cities that twinkle all over, or a little tree and a country cabin, I’ll take either.  Before I had the opportunity to live in the Bay Area, I declared San Francisco my favorite city and visited often.  Then I moved across the Bay where it’s always a thrill to arrive at the Ferry Building.  By the end of November, the  Embarcadero Four buildings are stunning, outlined in lights. If a person has to shop, a person might as well do it then and there.

My agent’s office was in a beautiful old building on Geary, across the street from Neiman Marcus at Union Square.  I’d take the vintage elevator up to Joan’s office, then across the street for a bite inside the glorious rotunda.

Like many broadcasters, I have a substantial holiday music collection, going back to the days when record companies sent them to us. I treasure them.

My website partner, Dave Williams, and I were producing audio for another website a couple of years back and searching for music, I met Chris Whiteman and Colin Tribe on YouTube and have followed them ever since.  Their holiday songs are part of my tradition.

My office lights now stay up all year.  The old Christmas CDs still work in my computer and when they don’t any more, I’ll keep downloading and carry on.

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Here’s Chris Whiteman, who lives in Virginia and plays and teaches everywhere.  Click the picture to visit his YouTube channel

Here’s Colin Tribe with grandson, Edward.  Colin lives in England where he composes, arranges, teaches and plays the you know what out of that ukulele. Click the picture for his YouTube channel.

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Follow me here anytime.

 

Bless the ordinary days.

Bless the ordinary days. When I was younger I thought it would be big moments that define life. That didn’t turn out to be true. The one thing I can count on is routine. I love it.

Routine isn’t boring.  It allows me to accomplish new things because no matter what happens when I venture into some other territory, I can return to stand (or sit) on the smooth and relatively splinter-free platform of the everyday and maybe even become bolder because of the foundation routine provides.

When I was younger I thought it would be big moments that defined life.  That hasn’t turned out to be true. Often when drama’s ahead, I turn around and return as quickly as possible back to the smaller, the more familiar.

Habits are sometimes the only thing I can control for weeks at a time, and I count each choice I get to make a small victory. They give me freedom to feel most myself.

When I venture into new experiences, one of the best parts is knowing the familiar awaits. Sometimes the new thing works out, sometimes not.  But there’s always the favorite chair, book, coffee, music, supper, TV show, and work I enjoy to return to.

Music is a vital part of the day.  I’m listening to guitarist Chris Whiteman, “The Nearness of You.” 

 

Fifteen Minute Nostalgia Rule

By Anita Garner

Listen to blog with music here.

Those were the days, weren’t they?  In memory, they’re golden. We also want to know about a colleague’s passing, comfort each other about health issues, but that can also occupy every conversation.

A  friend and colleague, Don Barrett, is Los Angeles radio’s teller of tales, and often our prophet, at www.laradio.com. He’s had several careers with contacts ranging far and wide, and he’s in touch with multitudes of people he knows in movies and broadcasting. Don’s our resource when we need to find someone.

But Don has a fifteen minute nostalgia rule and then he wants to know about today. Are you still on the beach? (In radio talk, being out of work is being “on the beach.” I don’t know why.) Do you have plans? He’d rather hear about right now.  What are you doing?  Where?  How do you feel about it?

Radio and television and newspaper and all manner of media ruled our careers for decades, creating exciting relationships, and then when that part of life moves on, there’s a desire to remember when, with groups we once worked with. I like Facebook for that.  And emails. But I also respect Don’s approach to staying in touch with what’s happening now.

Music this week is “Moon River.” Chris Whiteman on guitar.


Version 2

 

Chris plays “Moon River” on his 1959 Gibson ES-125T

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjBXNTW5hb4

And more mighty fine listening from Chris here.

Subscribe to Chris’ You Tube channel here.