Sunday, December 22, 2019

Hearing an Old Sound a New Way

Song 491: This week the playlist applauds the sound of Jingle Bell Rock by Chubby Checker & Bobby Rydell, written by Joe Beal and Jim Boothe, and you can find a YouTube video of it by clicking on the title. I first heard this cool holiday tune not long after I started college at the turn of the 1970s. I believe the Checker/Rydell version of the piece was the one I got to know, and to hear regularly, though at this point I can't say for certain, but it sure does sound like it fits the season pretty well. As the 1970s unfolded, I got to know a few other holiday season rockers, including Elvis' Blue Christmas (which might possibly appear on this list about a year from now), and later in the decade, Bruce Springsteen's version of Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (Song 439). Bruce's Yuletide rocker inspired me to start thinking about writing my own seasonal carol, and soon enough, I came up with a title. A few years later, living in the Bay Area of CA at the turn of the 1980s, when my good friend and musical colleague Jeff Larson shared his new composition Home for the Holidays it moved me to finally get around to writing Commoner's Carole. (You can find a lyric video of that one on YouTube just by clicking on the title.) Once I had written it, I started thinking about how to wrap this gift, and soon enough, I figured out an original way to play The First Noel with just a solo acoustic guitar. One thing led to another, and another, and about a year ago, I released Holiday Card, which packages Commoner's Carole together with solo acoustic guitar versions of a dozen seasonal classics. That CD is pretty mellow, but getting back to Chubby and Bobby, I'd say hearing their Jingle Bell hit from nearly 60 years ago could still convince most listeners that it's a bright time, it's the right time to rock the night away.

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