Musical Advent Calendar 2013 – December 6

Last night, NBC broadcast a live performance of the classic musical The Sound of Music, with Carrie Underwood playing the role made famous by Julie Andrews in the film version.  While I haven’t yet watched last night’s performance, the consistent word I am hearing from those who did is that Carrie Underwood is no Julie Andrews.  And I am interpreting the comments I heard very kindly.

Regardless, all of the hoopla around The Sound of Music leads me to today’s musical advent calendar selection, or what I am calling “Holiday Songs That Aren’t Actually About the Holidays – Part 2!”

As most of you know, The Sound of Music is based on the true story of the Von Trapp family, who escaped Austria during Nazi occupation at the outset of World War II.  Obviously, it’s a story that could only be told on the Broadway stage, so Rodgers and Hammerstein did just that in 1959.  The show was so popular, it was turned into a major motion picture in 1965.  One of the standout numbers from the show was “My Favorite Things”.  It was first performed by Mary Martin and Patricia Neway in the play, and then most famously by Julie Andrews in the movie.  Here is the Julie Andrews version, with lyrics included on the video:

It’s a delightful song, but it is not about Christmas or the holidays.  It is about overcoming your fears by thinking of the things in your life that make you feel good.  You know, things like kittens and mittens and strudel and schnitzel.  Merry Christmas!

Vaguely, the references to snowflakes, sleigh bells, and  “brown paper packages tied up in strings” could be interpreted as reference points to the holidays, but it’s a bit of a stretch.  No matter – stretch, our popular culture did!  And as popular covers of the song started popping up in the years following the show’s Broadway debut (most notable was John Coltrane’s epic jazz turn on the song), it eventually found inclusion in holiday fair.

The first recording of the song I can identify specifically in a holiday context is on The Jack Jones Christmas Album in 1964, which pre-dates the movie.  So, by the time Julie Andrews took her turn, the song’s holiday roots had already been planted.  Now, almost 50 years later, it is accepted as a Christmas standard!

The song has been included on dozens of Holiday themed albums over the decades.  Kelly Clarkson includes a version on her new album, which is pretty solid.  But I want to choose my favorite version of the song, recorded in 1968 by Tony Bennett, for the musical advent calendar.  He just sounds so cool in this and the music swings, daddy-o.

So let’s open up today’s box!  Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by.

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~ by themattmorrisshow on December 6, 2013.

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