Dec. 26th, 2012

mellicious: pink manicure (Xmas - pink aluminum)
I was thinking on the way home tonight about where we spend Christmas. Rob was reminiscing about a Christmas long ago when one of my cousins was a teenager and it was at "my dad's house" - so he said. This had to mean my mom AND dad's house, before they got divorced, since the cousin is on my mom's side of the family and anyway, we never had Christmas at my dad's after they were divorced. Honestly we never had Christmas terribly often there before that, either. But that was mostly because most years, we went to my grandparents' house, on my mom's side. I know we had Christmas at our house at least a few times - there was a year that I remember laying in bed (then as now, I was pretty much an insomniac) and watching my parents put out the "Santa" gifts - there was a clear line of sight between the front bedroom, where we slept, and the living room, and apparently nobody stopped to think that either of us might be awake. I don't think my parents understood how bad a sleeper I was. (For one thing, I think I thought that I was doing something wrong by staying awake, or at least they would think so, so I didn't say much about it.)

That was at the house we lived in when I was a kid, though. The house that Rob was talking about was the house on the bayou that my parents moved to after I was in college. They lived there for about 10 years, until they got divorced, and then my dad lived there for quite a few years more, although I can't remember exactly what year he finally sold the house - but we never had Christmas there in those years, I know that. In fact I hardly ever saw him on Christmas Day after the divorce. Mostly he spent Christmas with whatever wife or girlfriend he had at the time, after the divorce, and we went on going to our grandparents' house on the other side, like always, until my grandparents both died. We rarely ever spent Christmas with my dad's mother, even when we were young - as you may have already figured out - but usually we would go there at some point, on the way home from the other grandparents'. It felt a bit like an afterthought, quite frankly. (Even my dad liked it better at the other grandparents' house, we all knew that. His mom was not really a fun person, to say the least. She was a good cook, though. We didn't spend the night but we always stayed for a meal.)

We did have at least one Christmas at the bayou house, though, and one Christmas at my sister's house, a few years later, and a few times we went to my uncle's house at least for Christmas dinner, too. I'm sure there were a variety of factors that figured into this that I don't really remember any more. I remember some discussion about keeping my grandmother (probably both of them, really) from having to do too much work. But the outcome of that was that we kept celebrating Christmas just like we always did, we just made sure everybody else did most of the work.

I'll never be able to remember all 50 years of Christmasses, and nobody would want to hear about all of them if I could! But I can't come close. It's interesting to try to sort it all out in my head, just the same.
mellicious: pink manicure (Xmas lights pink)
I seem to be getting a fair number of entry ideas from Twitter this year - not surprisingly, since I finally gave in to Twitter this year in a big way after resisting it for a long time. I think I got this link from somewhere else originally but I know I tweeted it one day a couple of weeks ago: apparently somebody wrote an entire book about Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", and then somebody else wrote an article about both the book and the song for The Atlantic with multiple video links, which the book presumably lacks).

(The title refers to a song that I always wanted to be allowed to sing when I was in high school - that Mozart song with all the runs and trills. I had a tendency to pick over-ambitious songs and that certainly qualifies. I think from looking around online it's usually spelled "Alleluia" but anyway, same word-root but a far different song. I think you can find many versions of that on YouTube, also -  but I can't hunt around for one I like since I don't have any sound where I am!)

Anyway, this is about the Leonard Cohen song, not Mozart. I was interested in that article because it had several versions I knew and several I didn't. I knew I had a bunch of versions on my iTunes, and when I looked there were seven:
Jeff Buckley
k.d.lang
Timberlake/Morris (from the Hope for Haiti benefit album)
Brandi Carlile (live)
and 3 from Idol contestants: Jason Castro, Tim Urban, Lee DeWyze
(Man, I think I'm just a sucker for this song. I don't even LIKE Lee DeWyze all that much.)

I don't want to talk about my bad Idol habit, which this could easily drift into, but anyway, clearly I like this song a LOT. Like a lot of other people clearly do, too. I will say that it definitely has become a staple of all the singing competitions that are so popular these days. After I had already written a draft of this, a 13-year-old X-Factor finalist did a pretty good version, too - I couldn't find a direct link but it's still on the website as of today. (It was 2nd place finisher Carly Rose Sonenclar, and it was labeled "Carly Rose's $5m song" or something to that effect. I'm sure it's probably available on iTunes for a little while longer, too, if you're determined to track it down!) I thought it sounded fairly similar to the Alexandra Burke version - which you can see on that Atlantic page, and which was also X-Factor, although it was the British X-Factor rather than the American one, and apparently it was a big hit in Britain at the time. (But I had never heard it until I read that piece the other day, actually.)

The funny thing is, I don't much like the Leonard Cohen version. I think it's safe to say that in general I like Leonard Cohen more in theory than I do in practice. He's too... raw, or something. And I'm sure it's not news to anybody when I say that he's not really a terribly good singer, in the pure sense. (Wasn't there a version by Cohen on the "Watchmen" soundtrack? I didn't find it the other day when I looked, but I seem to remember that I liked that one better.)

That article mentions it being big at weddings, which I think is strange. Do people not listen to the lyrics of their wedding music? Very downbeat for a wedding, seems to me. I mean, I guess it's not completely inappropriate, but it's certainly not "We've Only Just Begun."**

**I realize that The Carpenters are undoubtedly not fashionable wedding music nowadays - but that's what was big when I was in high school, so that's what popped into my head as a contrast. It's just my age showing, that's all.

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