Goodness, What A Year: Happy Holidays, Christmas Music, and Signing Off for 2014

Well, dear reader, it's been quite a year. This is one of busier times I've had writing about poetry and music (both here on the blog and elsewhere), as well as a hectic period in my personal life. All in all, so much good stuff happened in 2014, and I'm grateful for it.

It was also a rewarding year for poetry and pop music, but we've been all through that at this point, so if you want revisit my thoughts, feel free to scroll back through the blog.

To close things out, I wanted to a write about two holiday albums. Neither are new, but that seems fitting. The holidays are a time for nostalgia, so it's appropriate to end our 2014 together looking back at some old favorites.

Cyndi Lauper's Merry Christmas... Have a Nice Life

Released in 1998, Lauper reportedly recorded this album to close out a deal with her label after releasing two good but commercially underwhelming albums. It's a personal LP. Rumor is Lauper recorded the vocals in her cedar closet at home, and the record features Lauper's dulcimer on many tunes, a children's choir and polka sounds on "Early Christmas Morning," toy instrument sounds on "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," a quirky narrative on "Minnie and Santa," and zany synthesizers on "New Year's Baby." This is all to say that the album is not a bland holiday castoff, but a lovingly recorded and produced album only Lauper could have made. My favorite tracks include the opener "Home On Christmas Day," "Feels Like Christmas" (which previously appeared on Hat Full of Stars), her take on the traditional "Three Ships," and a lovely version of "Silent Night."

Carole King's A Holiday Carole

Yes, I've written about this album quite a bit on the blog, and that is because it is my favorite holiday record. In fact, it's easily one of my favorite King records, which is a feet because it has some stiff competition. This album works for me because it is mostly a collection of winter standards ("My Favorite Things," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Everyday Will Be Like a Holiday") and charming new compositions ("Christmas in the Air," "Christmas Paradise," "New Year's Day") that capture the warm feeling of the season without being preachy. Carole King's voice is my sonic comfort food, and she handles all of these tunes with grace. The album soothes me. While I listen to it year round, it gets special attention in December.

So, dear reader, thank you for spending the year with me. I'm taking a break from the blog to spend time with loved ones and enjoy the season. I wish you love and joy for all of your holiday adventures. I'll see you again in late January, but until then, keep singing and dancing.

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