Sunday, December 21, 2014


Wow, time for BATTLE OF THE BANDS results post already. This past week just flew by and left me in the dust. I did finally make it back to my BOTB post and leave a reply for each and every one of you, but it was so late in the week, I bet nobody (unless you link to my post with the ‘Notify me’ button) even saw them.

I also left you, what I thought was a very funny Christmas song video on my last 'results post', and not a one of you commented on it. BUT, almost everybody wanted to give some justification for that ‘vocal acrobatics’ remark. Go figure. I hope my reference to ‘vocal acrobatics’ didn’t offend anyone, cause I was really just joking around. I knew what you guys meant.

Anyway…enough of my insecure blabbering on. I love Christmas, I really do, but there is something about it that always makes me feel kind of insecure. Probably something from my childhood. I do think that Christmas sends us all back to childhood memories; good, bad, and indifferent.

Back to BOTB. I think that ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day’ is one of my favorite Carols (who am I kidding, they are all ‘one’ of my favorites). I love the sentiments that Longfellow expresses. He fully acknowledges that there is no peace on earth, in his time (or ours). BUT, then he reminds us that ‘God is not dead, no doth He sleep’. This is His world, created by His Son, and no matter what men may do, He is in charge. How important is that?

In the end the finaly tally is:

                        Burl Ives            7 votes
                        Casting Crowns  10 votes

You might have noted that I didn’t count my vote yet. At this very moment I’m still having a bit of a hard time. I love both versions. I grew up singing the more traditional (Burl Ives) tune, but there is a whole lot of power and emotion in the newer version by Casting Crowns. Since, my vote won’t matter either way, I’m gonna do something that I would probably scold you for trying in the comment box (OK CW, feel free to have at me on that) and declare my vote a tie. I still wanna sing the traditional version (don’t think I could master that newer one without an entire choir to back me up), but I love the raw power and feelings evoked by Casting Crowns.

I’m currently (yeah, I know at 4AM, when I have nothing else to do) working on a Short Story for a contest that happens to have a Christmas flavor. If I can get it cleaned up enough (no time to get it to CP’s for help) by Christmas Eve, I think I’ll post it here, but on the more likely chance that this does not come to pass – I want to wish each and every one of you a most Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (actually, I have a post that I wrote a few months back, that I plan on posting 12/31 New Year’s Eve, so if you have time, drop by).

I sincerely want to thank all of you who stop by and support BOTB here, and at the home of all the other participants. This has been a fun project for me, but it wouldn’t be half as much fun without your comments. I do hope to organize my life better in the coming year and visit more of your blogs, but one way to get be to stop in for a chat is to join BOTB. I do make a sincere effort to visit each and every participant on the 1st and 15th.

I’ll for sure be back on January 1, to kick off 2015 with another BATTLE OF THE BANDS. See ya then, I hope!

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Last Christmas BATTLE OF THE BANDS for 2014

As much as I love Christmas music it seems inappropriate to play it after December 25th. Alright, I do play Christmas music in my home up until the first of January, but for the purpose of BATTLE OF THE BANDS, this will be the last Christmas BATTLE at Far Away Series. That does make me a little bit sad.

Today I’ve chosen a song that has melancholy overtones or should that be undertones. Either way this song was written as a poem at a very difficult time in the author’s life. He felt so much despair that, I think he was beginning to feel somewhat abandoned by God. Fortunately, he had a Spiritual Awakening of sorts. One of my favorite lines in this Carol is ‘God is not dead, nor doth he sleep’.

So, how well do you know your Christmas Carol?  Any ideas what my song is today? Well, read on and you’ll know soon enough. First, let me give some ‘real’ (or maybe not so real) background from Wacky-Watchee.

A Christmas carol based on the 1863 poem "Christmas Bells" by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.[1] The song tells of the narrator's despair, upon hearing Christmas bells, that "hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men". The carol concludes with the bells carrying renewed hope for peace among men.

During the American Civil War, Longfellow's oldest son Charles Appleton Longfellow joined the Union cause as a soldier without his father's blessing. Longfellow was informed by a letter dated March 14, 1863, after Charles had left. "I have tried hard to resist the temptation of going without your leave but I cannot any longer," he wrote. "I feel it to be my first duty to do what I can for my country and I would willingly lay down my life for it if it would be of any good".[2] Charles soon got an appointment as a lieutenant but, in November, he was severely wounded[3] in the Battle of New Hope Church (in Virginia) during the Mine Run Campaign. Coupled with the recent loss of his wife Frances, who died as a result of an accidental fire, Longfellow was inspired to write "Christmas Bells".

He first wrote the poem on Christmas Day in 1863.[4] "Christmas Bells" was first published in February 1865 in Our Young Folks, a juvenile magazine published by Ticknor and Fields.[5]
It was not until 1872 that the poem is known to have been set to music. The English organist, John Baptiste Calkin, used the poem in a processional accompanied with a melody he previously used as early as 1848.[3] The Calkin version of the carol was long the standard. Elvis Presley, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, MercyMe, Steven Curtis Chapman, Johnny Cash, and Jimmie Rodgers have recorded this version. Less commonly, the poem has also been set to the 1845 composition "Mainzer" by Joseph Mainzer. In 2011, Jack Gibbons, the British pianist and composer, set Longfellow’s poem to music in his role as artist-in-residence at Davis & Elkins College, and the first performance was given by the Davis & Elkins College choir on 4 December 2011.[6]

When I was growing up my parents sent me to the Methodist Church. This first version sung by Burl Ives is the traditional version we sang at Christmastime.

Here is Mr. Burl Ives with ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.

Next is a slightly different version by Casting Crowns.

Now I think you probably know what to do (vote for your favorite and tell me why) and how to do it (leave me a comment below). If you are hosting your own BATTLE (and are new to this little meme), please also tell me in the comment box, so I can be sure to visit your BATTLE.

Next, stop on over at the home space of TSMOTP STMCc Presents Battle of the Bands and see what he has posted for his BATTLE this time. Stephen will give you links to all the other regular participants. I encourage you to visit all of the BATTLES and cast a vote.

I’ll be back right before Christmas on December 21st to give you my vote and tell you the final tally in this BATTLE OF THE BANDS.

Thank you all for stopping by. I hope you’re enjoying your preparations for Christmas, ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’!

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Is it just me, or does it seem to anyone else that 2014 is speeding faster than a bullet train out of Tokyo, toward 2015! YIKES! I can hardly keep up.
At least I’m pretty well prepared for Christmas. The presents are all purchased, but not wrapped. I’ve decorated the house, but not put the tree up yet. I still need to bake, but the Christmas parties have already started and I’m definitely feeling in the mood for some Christmas cheer.

Anyway…here’s a little something for you to listen to while I get on with the business of BOTB RESULTS. Pay special attention to the names of the Reindeer.

YIKES! I think I’ve been to that party…in another life.

OK, enough of this nonsense, let’s get on with the Results from BATTLE OF THE BANDS CHRISTMAS EDITION 2014.

First, let me say that, in my opinion, there could be no wrong vote here. I really like both of the versions that I posted. All week long I kept vacillating about my vote, but I have finally decided. Although I think the ‘vocal acrobatics’ of Pentatonix are super, I have to give my vote to the sincere mellow voice of CeeLo Green.

 I found it interesting that some of you who voted for Pentatonix, have, in the past, called out other artists for what you called ‘vocal acrobatics’ and yet when it’s done as an a Capella arrangement, you folks are all over it. Not necessarily a criticism, just an observation and something to think about. At any rate, I did like the Pentatonix version. These people are amazing and I highly admire the sounds they can produce simply using their voices.

I admit that I was pretty shocked to hear CeeLo’s version. This is quite a departure from what he is most famous for, but I thought he pulled it off quite well. In this number I like the simplicity of the one voice.
In the end, my vote wasn’t enough to give this one to CeeLo and Pentatonix did win by quite a large margin, but for my money, CeeLo had a respectable showing.
                Pentatonix                  13 votes
                CeeLo Green               7 votes (including mine)

I want to thank each and every one of you for coming by and voting in this BATTLE. Nineteen voters may even be an all-time record. I’ll be back on the 15th of December with another Christmas Edition of Battle of the Bands. See ya then and please remember during this hectic time of year remember the ‘Reason for the Season’ and take some time for yourself to find the peace meant to be a part of our lives.