Christmas Music

I grew up in a very musical home. Dad played the Violin, Mom played Piano and Organ, my brother played Trumpet, then piano and organ and I played drums, Saxophone and Baritone when I broke my left pinky. Dad listened to old country, mom listened to easy listening, Boston Pops and Opera, my brother covered the Beatles and other groups from the 50’s to the late 60’s and I finished it off with Rush, Queen, Aerosmith, Kiss and Chicago.

Christmas Music was always big in our home. From the day after Thanksgiving, mom’s multi-record console Stereo was stacked with multiple Christmas Albums. We did everything from “The Mormon Choir,” to “Big Crosby,” to “The Grasshoppers.” If mom was in a really snarky mood or mad at one of us kids, we got a whole afternoon of “Mario Lanza” and “Luciano Pavrotti” always on the loudest setting possible. While both are solid singers, they are murder to two kids stuck in the house.

Fast forward…the decade is the 1980’s, and I was working at the mall, selling all sorts of overpriced electronics for Radio Shack. I was one of two lead salesmen in the store and we had a blast. He’d sell a stereo, I’d sell a stereo, He’d sell a television, I’d sell a television. One of the things we had to sell was a pair of Mach 1 speakers. These things were huge and put out one heck of a sound. The trick was to find the perfect music to demo them. Someone suggested Mannheim Steamroller’s “Christmas Album.” “What’s that?” I said, I had not heard of them. One of the guys had a copy in his car, so he went to get it while we set up the Mach 1’s and our best stereo right by the door, which sat directly across from the food court.

We put in the disc and cranked up the stereo. What came blasting out of the speakers was some of the coolest music I had ever heard. Everyone in the food court stopped talking and some of the people started dancing. Within 10 minutes we had a store full of people and sold 4 stereos with speakers. We also had a visit from The Mall Cops. They demanded we turn the music down and stomped away. We waited till they were about half way down the mall and then cranked it up again. Mall Cops can run. This time they talked to our manager who promptly reminded them that Radio Shack was paying rent on two locations and as soon as we could, we would be setting up a second stereo at the second location too. We turned down the music a little and kept selling

For those of you who are not familiar with Mannheim Steamroller, they have been around a long time now. They have a website you can visit http://www.mannheimsteamroller.com There you can read about the group, see where they will be on tour and have some fun. You can also visit their store. (Note: I have not been compensated in any way for this endorsement.) I found a few selections up on YouTube but they were pretty poor copies. So much for YouTube protecting Copyright.  This is my favorite among their albums. Especially the “Deck The Halls” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” tracks.

51S1MZgB6qL_200x200

No matter what kind of Christmas Music you like, put some on! It’s already half way to Christmas!

Tis’ the Season

“Black Friday” has come and gone and the whole country is now ramping up into the Christmas Season. You notice I DID NOT say Holiday Season. I am not Politically Correct and I don’t celebrate anything but Christmas and even that I keep to a minimum any more. The family is scattered and many of them have died off. There are no great gatherings at Grandma’s house, so no more going over the Mahoning River or through the woods of Mill Creek Park. Home was a suburb of Youngstown, Ohio and Grandma’s House was on the East Side of Youngstown, just above the valley and the Steel Mills.

I do try to keep traditions alive. I eat some sort of Turkey Dinner, I always watch “The Christmas Story” and “The Home Coming” and if I can help it I never miss watching, “White Christmas.” One the other side, I watch “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty The Snowman” and “It’s a Charlie Brown Christmas.” Linus fixing up that crappy little Christmas Tree brings tears to my eyes year after year.

Music is another major part of Christmas for me. There’s nothing Cooler than Manheim Steamroller’s first Christmas Album. Spin that followed buy some Burl Ives, “Holly Jolly Christmas” and finish out the set with the Grasshoppers singing, “The Christmas Song.” “Christmas, Christmas Time is Here, Time for Joy and Time for Cheer, We’ve been Good but We can’t Last, Hurry Christmas Hurry Fast”…… I like a lot of the Church oriented favorites too, “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night” in both English and German and if I really want to get the blood stirring, I throw on The Mormons singing, “The Hallelujah Chorus” and turn the volume way up! Some of the best music has been produced for Christmas, not Kwanzaa and certainly not Hanukkah. Though I suppose there are some Jewish Favorites available if you are looking for such fare.

Gift Giving is another Holliday Tradition. Like anyone, I get a kick out of getting things and I also like to give things. Do you have someone you don’t know what to give them?  How about a website? Or maybe a customized family picture. A year worth of Genealogy help and research, These are all things available at Doug’s Country. Don’t miss the Store Page! I’ve got a really cool picture of the Space Shuttle there and a very nice John Wayne Print.

Have a Merry Christmas!  For the rest of you, I hope what ever you celebrate turns out nice too!

Music and the Internet

After Pornography and this year’s election cycle, I can’t think of a topic that generates more controversy than music on the Internet. While I am not a composer, my older brother is so I learned the in’s and out’s of Copyright a long time ago. When I started writing, I found out generally the same rules applied to my writing creations. Barring fair use provisions, with proper citation, you should ask me permission before copying any of my writing for use somewhere else.

Let’s get back to music. Tradition held for a while that some of the major music download sites existed under the vague gray area veil of “Fair Use”. While that lasted for a while, the major organizations that protect artists finally got irritated enough to let lawsuits fly. They managed to take down a couple of large file sharing sites, but at the same time they managed to tick off a lot of music fans.

I’m old enough to remember when Radio Stations and record shops were the only two real sources of music unless you went to a concert. So, if you wanted a free copy of anything, you had to copy someone else’s record or tape or try to make a recording off the radio. Luckily, I had a radio with a built in cassette recorder, so a simple push of the record button and I was in business. I not only recorded music, I recorded some of the old radio shows being broadcasted and many of the “Larry King” interviews when he had his late night show on the “Mutual Broadcasting System.”

Fast forward to the Internet. When designing web sites, I often get requests to add music to sites. I have to explain, to legally do this requires more hoops than it is worth to jump through, unless they have produced their own original music production and not just done a “cover” of someone else’s copyrighted work. While this breaks some of the enthusiasm, it saves both the client and I a truck load of hassle.

Now all this being said, if you really want to include music in your site, you can do it illegally, or you can check YOUTUBE and see if something is there in Video/Music and either link to it or EMBED it in your site. Understand! This is illegal too, but if you want to take the risk, then you can give it a shot. One technical problem you will encounter with this is of YOUTUBE Zaps that particular video; you end up with a dead link or a lousy looking dead embed box on your site.

Keep something else in mind, if you place music directly on your site in a sound file, that adds a huge load to the file size. Video is even worse. So, if you do want to add these things to your site, host them somewhere else and link to them or embed them. That way the bandwidth load goes against the other site and not yours. If you read my article about YouTube you will see where I linked to several files. I could have also embedded any of them in the blog.