Lola’s Musical Christmas Countdown Part 2

Christmas is, somehow, less than two weeks away. Which means it’s definitely time to get into the spirit with some non-Top 40 holiday music. For that, we turn to Lola’s Christmas countdown, perfect to listen to while you wrap presents, bake cookies, and shoo your cats away from the Christmas tree.

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(08) SADDERDAY. It’s Sadderday again, dearest friends, in Lola’s Christmas Countdown Spectacular, and on this particular day we share what may just be my favorite Christmas track. I remember how frustrated I was by the family hubbub around me the day this track came into my life—I love my family dearly but sometimes I just really need to recharge, and the sheer amount of energy around me combined with various member’s idiosyncrasies can make a day too much handle. In “Just For Now,” Imogen Heap describes family dynamics so many of us, though we may not admit it, have dealt with during the holidays—how the littlest comment can make or break an entire evening. Also, she’s singing with herself. Live.

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(09) SUNGDAY. No longer legal for performance or print (as Whitacre never got the Frost Estate’s permission), Eric Whitacre’s choral masterpiece setting of Robert Frost’s Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening has long since gone as Sleep with new text by Whitacre’s poet friend, Charles Anthony Silvestri. If you’ve really never heard this gorgeous piece of music before, you’re in for a real treat…don’t miss out. Listen in the quietest space you can.

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(10) SCORESDAY. It is generally agreed upon that The Nightmare Before Christmas is a holiday classic, but which holiday it is a classic for remains a point of contention. Some say all that fall within the Autumnal and Winter months. Some say just Hallowe’en or just Christmas. Some say “November!” which isn’t really a holiday, but is as good a guess as any—any save Disneyland’s, of course, which is “ALL YEAR ROUND HEY YOU KNOW WHAT FANTASYLAND TOMMOROWLAND AND MAIN STREET ALL NEED THAT’S RIGHT IT’S MORE SKELLINGTON COMING SOON TO A CRITTER COUNTRY NEAR YOU”. Whatever the answer is, I can tell you that my favorite musical moment in the entirety of the film happens for the first bit of this particular piece of the score. Enjoy!

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(11) GROOVESDAY. Week three already! (I told you this plan was working.) Now, I’m embarrassed to say that today’s jazz feast features the same source material as last week, but at least it is a VERY different interpretation. I adore this arrangement and listen to a recording of Cuesta Voce lay it down every year. That recording isn’t online and unlike a few others in the countdown, I feel I have no authority to put it there myself, so here’s a random jazz group I have no real affiliation with performing the piece, instead!

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(12) NERDSDAY. Minecraft is a bit like the big bang. What started as something incredibly small exploded and has left its reach all over the known universe. It’s a story of an indie game finding such success that it is no longer an indie game. Here’s a song about one player’s Christmas experience.

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(13) SADDERDAY. Is it fitting that the 13th day of Christmas is a Sadderday? I certainly think so. Let’s be real here for a moment. At this time of year, some of your friends and family members are going to be even more depressed than normal. Just do what you can to be kind to them and love them no matter how down they feel, okay? Sometimes when someone tells you to be happy it’s that much harder to actually feel it.

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(14) SUNGDAY. This is by far one of my favorite Christmas pieces. If Just For Now is tied for first (and last I checked, it was, though what with hasn’t been shared yet), this may possibly be second. Ambient Christmas music is not a particularly common experience, and making it out of such a classic carol to savor every single note of the the piece was a gorgeous decision. Take the time to breathe today, you deserve it. And maybe, when you take that time, you’ll recruit the Dale Warland Singers to help.

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(15) SCORESDAY. Okay. There’s a lot to say about this one, so let’s buckle down. To begin with, this is from one of my favorite Christmas Specials ever, Doctor Who’s take on A Christmas Carol. Now, I adore A Christmas Carol. I love creepiness at Christmas and Dickens’ writing is nothing short of breathtaking. But the story is so good and has been told in so many different ways that I finally had reached a point in my life where I no longer got terribly excited for it or new takes on it. There seemed to me to be no creative ways to tell the story anymore. And then Steven Moffat, who as you may know has committed such a mixture of literary triumphs and atrocities that he’s rightfully earned a bad reputation, actually spun the story in a way I hadn’t considered—the story was always a bit like time travel, what if the time travel was actually there? It’s a funny, modern take which doesn’t shy away from any of the heavy stuff at all. I love everything about it and plan to watch it every year. To top it off, though, Murray Gold, the saint who already wows with his scoring for the show normally, seriously hit it out of the park with this piece of music. It is gorgeous and introspective and catches the tone perfectly.
That’s where the lyrics come in. This video is good for a few reasons–one, it doesn’t spoil anything about the episode itself if you haven’t seen it yet, but two, it focuses on the lyrics, which when I first took the time to really think about them, broke me down into a complete mess of sobbing. It’s hard for me to admit, but I know from a very private place within myself that this song is about fighting depression and isolation. It is the ultimate Christmas song in that it breaks through the frost of one person’s severe and chronic fear and pain with the love that only another can provide. It is often too hard for me to handle as a result. I hope that you can grow to love this song in the same way as I do, or at least appreciate it. “Let in the Light Of Your Sweet Shadow,” indeed. Merry Christmas.

 

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