Often I will dream of Christmas music not yet made (is that a sign I listen to too much of this stuff??) I mean, how cool would it be to get a Christmas compilation with songs by the likes of Leonard Cohen, Michael Gira, the Tindersticks, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Tom Waits, and the sort? And not simply cover versions, but originals penned by these masters? Oh, I keep dreaming of the day.
But I am glad I have what I have, and there are some fantastic songs that fill that void to be heard and shared.
First up is an artist I featured on SPUD 102 on the first segment. It was the first song I thought of when trying to come up with great songs to share with a wider audience, and it is by Bill Mallonee. He's been hailed by critics as the best American songwriter you're not listening to. He's been making music since the early/mid 90's and it is criminal...and I mean CRIMINAL...this man doesn't have a larger following. His name deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen.
I will have more from him in a future blog posting, but today's song is not the same version heard on SPUD. It's a live recording going back to the time I discovered this song for myself...back to April of 1998 at the Xhedos Cafe in Ferndale, MI.
Vigilantes of Love-On To Bethlehem
Next up is another artist who has labored for years and still only has a relatively small following. Phil Madeira isn't a household name among a few but his work has influenced and been recorded by some of the biggest names around, including Ricky Skaggs and Garth Brooks. More than likely you may know his work and never knew you knew it was his work.
This is a new song by him.
Phil Madeira-Hallelujah, It's Christmas
I mentioned Tom Waits and how I'd love to hear him do an original Christmas song or two. I was listening to my Christmas songs on my MP3 player today and the Legendary Shack Shakers came up. This is from the Redeye Christmas compilation. This is a cover version, but it sure as heck fire is one of the best cover versions of this song I've heard and has a very Tom Waits kind of a feel to it.
Legendary Shack Shakers-God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Next up is the Opal Foxx Quartet. Not much info can be found online about Opal Foxx, but I can tell you this track comes from a rare Christmas song compilation out of Athens, GA compiled by Flagpole, a local music magazine from the early 90s. This, too, has a Tom Waits kind of feel to it. It has that American roots kind of feel to it that I am going for today.
Opal Foxx Quartet-On Christmas Day
And I know some of you reading this are going, "But Tom Waits DOES have a Christmas song!" Ah, yes he does. And I'd like to share with you an ultra rare live recording of it that is also mixed with his rendition of Silent Night.
Tom Waits-Silent Night/A Xmas Card From a Hooker In Minneapolis
And, last but certainly not least, is a glimpse of what might be if Leonard Cohen gave his vocals to a Christmas album. This is, sadly, just a cover version (not "just" in any bad way...ANY Christmas song by L. Cohen is a welcome addition to my collection...but I'd love to hear is poetic beauty in an original Christmas song) and it comes from a soundboard recording at the Dome Theater in Brighton, recorded on 12/15/1979.
Leonard Cohen-Silent Night
And for those of you looking for the third part of the SPUD segments, Todd hasn't sent me the file yet. Hopefully I will get two tomorrow and get those on the blog for you.
Thanks for listening.