Thursday, December 03, 2015

My Musical Advent Calendar

"Let There Be Peace on Earth" /
Vince Gill

I'm so tired of the shooting. So tired of the killing. Beirut, Paris, San Bernardino, and those are just the latest installments. So in this season of what we expect to be joy and love, can't we PLEASE put some urgency behind the call for a stop to all the madness? #nomoreguns

I'm embarrassed to admit that I know next to nothing about singer-songwriter Vince Gill, who (I now learn) has won 20-some country music Grammys. Blame my old C&W blind spot, tripping me up again. A flurry of interweb research tells me that he's an Oklahoman, started out in bluegrass, was in Pure Prairie League in the early 1980s, is married to Amy Grant, and is currently doing duets with my country-music main squeeze Lyle Lovett. And he has a voice like butter. So how has this guy been so completely been off my radar all these years?

True to his country roots, Vince Gill is apparently a great believer in the Christmas album: This is the title track from his first one, in 1993, but he's released three others since then. I don't hear anything cheap or cynical here, though. The arrangement is tastefully simple, with Gill's earnest voice front and center through all the inspirational chord changes. And then his daughter Jenny -- who must have been, what, twelve at the time? -- chimes in, just as earnestly.

This song may be a holiday chestnut, but it's one with a good back story.  Written in 1955 by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller, it reflects her turnaround from near-suicidal despair after a failed marriage. That's a hard-won wisdom, which is probably why there's nothing smug or self-righteous about its message of worldwide brotherhood. Basically, it keeps coming down to the unavoidable: If we want change, we have to be personally responsible for it. "Let there be peace on earth / AND let it begin with me."

Sign those petitions, go to those rallies. Don't just sit on your hands, people.  Let it begin with you.

PS  A little bonus -- not a holiday song, per se, but a song that's been rattling my brainpan all day...

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