Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday 80s Flashback for December 24, 2010

[Winter Holidays: Week 4] -- Welcome to the fourth and final installment of the Winter Holidays-themed 80s flashbacks. Yes, I took time out my own busy Christmas Eve to bring you a brief respite from your holiday preparations. And what a collection we have today!

Read and hear more after the jump.

Flashback #1:  "I have had to fight, almost every night | Down through these centuries | That is when I say, oh yes, yet again | Can you stop the cavalry?" Our first flashback today is posted in honor of the Christmas Truce of December 24, 1914. Although the song has very clear Christmas sentiments, it didn't start out as a Christmas song. But it is now one of the most familiar Christmas singles in Britain and Germany. According to Wikipedia, the song was released in France in the summer of 1980, but didn't get to the British charts until late November when someone at Stiff Records noticed it had a "specific style of brass instruments and bells in the chorus as a 'Christmas' style theme" as well as the line, "I wish I was at home, for Christmas" [see entry at Wikipedia]. The video itself is even set in the trenches of World War I. So, in memory of those German and British soldiers who held a brief truce 96 years ago today, and in honor of our fighting men and women stationed around the world and unable to make it home for the holidays, whatever holidays they may observe, here is "Stop the Cavalry," by Jona Lewie.

Flashback #2
"If you want the world to know | We won't let hatred grow | Put a little love in your heart." Anyone who knows me also knows that I am a huge fan of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." I love the story and I love many of the adaptations that have brought the characters to life on film. Bill Murray's 1988 film, Scrooged, is endearing in its own way, but it is certainly not one of the better adaptions. Scrooged did, however, boast a wonderful ending theme song that paired Annie Lennox and Al Green for a classic DeShannon hit from the 60s. The result is nothing short of brilliant. Whatever holiday you choose to celebrate (or ignore) this time of year, I'm sure you will agree that the message of this top ten hit resonates across all spiritual traditions. 

Flashback #3"Every child must be made aware | Every child must be made to care | Care enough for his fellow man | To give all the love that he can." In September 1977, Bing Crosby taped a television special, Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas. One of his special guests was David Bowie, who at this time was likely preparing for the release of his 12th solo studio album (Heroes). In what can only be described as one of the more bizarre moments to occur on television in the 70s, Bowie participated in a sketch which cast him as a neighbor-come-calling. After sharing a few words about Christmas traditions, Bowie and Crosby sing a unique duet of "The Little Drummer Boy." Yes, you read that correctly. Bing "Mr. White Christmas" Crosby sang a Christmas carol with David "Aladdin Sane" Bowie. Well, that's not entirely accurate: Crosby sang "The Little Drummer Boy" while Bowie sang a different melody with new lyrics as a counterpoint to Crosby's pah-rumpa-pum-pums. This new melody was called "Peace on Earth" and was written just hours before the performance because Bowie didn't want to do sing "Drummer Boy." You can read the whole story in this 2006 Washington Post article (and you should). Now, you may be wondering why I am including a song from a '77 TV special as an 80s Flashback. Well, although the song was first recorded and aired in 1977, it was not officially released as a single until 1982 -- about 5 years after Crosby's death. This song is wonderful for so many reasons, and the dichotomies it represents are chief among them: British citizen paired with an American citizen; the past coming together with the (at the time) very current, both in terms of the performers as well as the melodies they sang; lyrics extolling the goal of peace on Earth while the tensions of the Cold War gripped much of the world. Speaking for myself, I cannot think of a better song to end this week's Friday 80s Flashback, especially as it occurs on Christmas Eve.

Even when the final installment of a special series ends on Christmas Eve, the number of Flashbacks is limited to three. So that's all we have for today, folks. See you next Friday, 80s-philes!

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