These are two songs that I listen to every year around Christmas. They have a lot of memories in them and evoke a lot of nostalgia for me...
GAVIN BRYARS - JESUS' BLOOD NEVER FAILED ME YET
Gavin Bryars tells the story behind the album:
In 1971, when I lived in London, I was working with a friend, Alan Power, on a film about people living rough in the area around Elephant and Castle and Waterloo Station. In the course of being filmed, some people broke into drunken song - sometimes bits of opera, sometimes sentimental ballads - and one, who in fact did not drink, sang a religious song "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet". This was not ultimately used in the film and I was given all the unused sections of tape, including this one.
When I played it at home, I found that his singing was in tune with my piano, and I improvised a simple accompaniment. I noticed, too, that the first section of the song - 13 bars in length - formed an effective loop which repeated in a slightly unpredictable way. I took the tape loop to Leicester, where I was working in the Fine Art Department, and copied the loop onto a continuous reel of tape, thinking about perhaps adding an orchestrated accompaniment to this. The door of the recording room opened on to one of the large painting studios and I left the tape copying, with the door open, while I went to have a cup of coffee. When I came back I found the normally lively room unnaturally subdued. People were moving about much more slowly than usual and a few were sitting alone, quietly weeping.
I was puzzled until I realised that the tape was still playing and that they had been overcome by the old man's singing. This convinced me of the emotional power of the music and of the possibilities offered by adding a simple, though gradually evolving, orchestral accompaniment that respected the tramp's nobility and simple faith. Although he died before he could hear what I had done with his singing, the piece remains as an eloquent, but understated testimony to his spirit and optimism.
The piece was originally recorded on Brian Eno's Obscure label in 1975 and a substantially revised and extended version for Point Records in 1993. The version which is played by my ensemble was specially created in 1993 to coincided with this last recording.
DOWNLOAD PT. 1
CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS - HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SING!
...the first vocal part of this with the children's voices almost always calms me and makes me very meditative. It is more effective than any ambient record I've ever heard. I feel like this music is SACRED and can cut into the heart of the most jaded and bitter of us.
BONUS STOCKING STUFFER - LINUS TELLS US THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS:
DOWNLOAD LINUS' MONOLOGUE AS AN MP3
oh yeah, and how could i forget this...
Low - Little Drummer Boy (Try not to think of the heterocentric Gap commercial that ruined my impressions of this song for a LONG ASS time. Only now, after truly needing to feel its sonic solitude and icy drone, can I appreciate it.)
The Elektrik Karousel - Well, friends, the new Focus Group album has arrived and it's a belter. I reckon it's Julian's best yet. Read my review of it here.
1 day ago