Friday, December 12, 2014

My Musical Advent Calendar

"We Call It Christmas" /
Keb' Mo'

Instead of a glitter-spangled scene with doors for every day of December, how about a daily treat from my iTunes holiday playlist?

And now for something completely different -- a song that's actually about the Christmas spirit, courtesy of that master updater of the blues traditon, Keb' Mo'.  In this season of ugly politics and social unrest, we could all do with a little more of this.

It's true, Keb' Mo' has a weakness for peace-and-love messages (witness his covers of "Imagine," "For What It's Worth," and "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding"), but as a child of the 60s, that's a bandwagon I'm happy to climb onto with him.  Cliched as it easily could sound, I hear nothing but sincerity in his call for "All about peace, no fighting anywhere / Knowing there's enough for everyone to share / And a heavenly choir comes over the land / Fills each and every heart with something we all understand." Do you really want to be the Grinch who argues with that? 

Keb's so PC, he even adds, "We call it Christmas / And it's known by many names / We call it Christmas / And it's for everyone all the same."  So let's get past the labels and back to the important thing: the spirit of love this season can bring if we're not too pig-headed to ignore it.

I'm guessing this is a Keb original -- it sounds like his trademark easy-listening blues sound. (I mean easy-listening in a good way -- I adore Keb' Mo's music and I urge you to listen to more of it.) I found this track on a 2000 Sony Christmas compilation titled Christmas Calling; my less-than-exhaustive research only turns up one other version, which is a Little River Band cover in 2011. Theirs is pretty sweet, too, but this original's laid-back folk-blues arrangement, along with Keb's warm voice and light touch, delivers the message flawlessly. It's a song you can sink gratefully into and, at least for a moment, hope -- believe -- that he's right.

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