September in the Rain

The leaves of brown came tumbling down,
Remember, in September in the rain.
The sun went out just like a dying ember,
That September in the rain.

Rod Stewart, September in the Rain

It’s been a wet few days here in Tucson. But not even our Indian summer monsoons could compare to the tears that rained down from Congressional Democrats last night. At the end of an undoubtedly Bourbon-soaked evening, Democrats lost disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner’s solidly blue Congressional seat to Republican Robert Turner, 47% to 53%. The White House made an effort to put its spin on the results, but the point remains the same: if Brooklyn and Queens aren’t safe for the Dems, what districts are?

Unlike the unreasonable folks over at HotAir, I won’t read the results as anything other than what they are – an epic repudiation of President Obama’s failed policies that all but portends a historic GOP victory in 2012 and beyond. Objectivity aside, it strikes me that when there is a Republican Congressman from New York City (New York City!?), it’s either a sign of the apocalypse, or the sign of a burgeoning political tsunami. I’m hoping for the latter, but I think there’s some evidence that it may be the former.

First, the New York Times, ran a reflective piece musing about the travails of living the authentic life. Alas, given that no one at the New York Times is actually authentic about anything, the article does little more than state the obvious. For the curious, the essay sagely observes that the image we project to others is little more than our perspective of how we want others to see us. Startling, I know. According to the NYT, this indicates that no matter how much we change our looks, or how ardently we attempt to conform to social mores, at the end of the day, we’re all about as authentic as a James Frey autobiography. Somewhere in Hell, Michael Jackson is rolling over in his grave singing “Black or White.”

I suppose matters could be worse. At least many of us have, or will have, the comfort of a stable relationship/marriage to fall back on when times get tough. Unless, of course, you reside in the 2/3s of the country typified by the American South and the American West. These decidedly red states, where God’s faithful foot soldiers defend the citadel of marriage from the onslaughts of gay barbarians – these red states boast the highest divorce rates in the country. The hypocritical-evangelical-Christian meme is tired at this point, so I won’t go there. But I recognize that, with the exception of Kim Kardashian, people aren’t perfect. Still, maybe it’s time to give the gays a chance at being miserable too? Fair is fair.

With New York turning red, marriages yielding to divorce, and weeks passing without a post, one might think your humble blogger has become more jaded than ever. This simply isn’t true. I start my day with a cup of Joe (that’s coffee, not Biden), and look for the good in the world.

One source of inspiration for me is the performance of the Oklahoma Sooners football team. OU was recently ranked the No. 1 team in the land for a record-setting 100th time, besting Notre Dame, Ohio State, and USC, coming in lightyears ahead of Texas. Second, returning to the topic of marriage marriage, I was also encouraged to see that roughly 86% of all Americans now approve of interracial marriage, or as they say in Tennessee, miscegenation. Should my wife and I ever decide to have spawn, they’ll grow up in a much more tolerant society than the one Gary Coleman did, and that’s a good thing.

But then I learn about products for children such as the Thudguard Infant Safety Helmet, and my hope for humanity languishes once again.

The aim of the Thudguard is to soften the blow, so to speak, while children are learning to walk. This, of course, begs the question, how in 7 million years of human evolution did we ever get by without the Thudguard? God only knows what the poor kids will do once they’ve out-grown their helmet. Walk without one? I realize if you’re Rick Perry, the question may be a little different since the Earth is only slightly older than 5 thousand years. But even a creationist must consider how inexorably different history would have been. Imagine if Goliath was wearing a Thudguard when he fought lowly David? I’m not just saying, I’m just saying.

After reading about the Thudguard, I immediately recalled the poetics of former hip-hop sensation Aaliyah (RIP), and wondered how the lyrics of her song Try It Again might change given the advent of so ingenious a device. Perhaps we wouldn’t encourage folks to try it again, so much as we would encourage them to be extremely careful while trying it the first time. Naturally, I promptly horrified myself by wondering whether Thudguard made an adult version of the helmet, and how much it might cost. If there’s a moral to any of the above, it’s probably that less is more.

For all my hemming and hawing, I don’t think the apocalypse will be here any time soon. My Dallas Cowboys still haven’t won a football game, meaning that Hell hasn’t frozen over – unfortunately for the King of Pop. To celebrate the non-event, tonight, I will enjoy a quiet glass of wine with the wife who really is as close to perfect as anyone I actually know. I will be thankful that my marriage is well on the positive side of 50% of marriages in our great and blessed land. And I’ll probably block http://babysfirstheadgear.com/ in my bank account’s security settings.

But assuming my own happiness isn’t enough to chase away your blues, as always, let not your heat be troubled. Things could always be worse. We could be living in Beijing.

Song of the Week: Free the Toronto Nine

This latest song of the week is an unusual one, brought to you courtesy of the Sylvan Street jazz band, titled Free the Toronto Nine.

The song is unusual in that I really don’t know much about the Sylvan Street jazz band, and I honestly have no idea who the Toronto Nine are much less any idea as to why they need to be freed. I suppose the title could be a vague reference to the nine people who attended the Toronto Blue Jays’ last home game, in which case all nine need to be set free, indeed.

Obscure titles aside (is there really any other kind of title for the songs found in jazz albums), I’ll be damned if the music video of the song doesn’t make Tucson seem like a pretty hip place to live. The vid was shot in a number of locations around town, and does a striking job of making Tucson seem like, well, a real city.

Enjoy!

Song of the Week: Bella Notte

I’m only a bit embarrassed to select the following as my song of the week. Taken from Disney’s Lady and the Tramp, and reincarnated this week by the mighty Fox Network’s Glee, our song of the week underscores the inner sappiness of yours truly.

Bella Notte first graced audiences ears in the 1955 animated classic Lady and the Tramp. The nostalgic among us may recall the music and the scene where Lady and the Tramp share their first kiss over spaghetti.

Immediately, the music and the image became iconic, setting unrealistic romantic expectations for generations.

Despite, it’s rather famous provenance, the song has not enjoyed great commercial success. A part of the song’s history is a protracted legal battle in which recording artist Peggy Lee sued Disney over the rights to the song when it began marketing VHS cassettes in the late 80s. It’s really a shame. A cover of the song by Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra would have been amazing.

As if to make up for is scant performance history, the song made an appearance recently on the hit show Glee as a part of the series season finale set in New York, New York. The scene in the program tries to capture a similar romantic vignette between the punctilious Rachel Berry and former star quarterback, now glee club member Finn Hudson. For those who care, Rollingstone has a summary of the episode here.

I’ve only seen two episodes of Glee, but the cast’s performance of the song was just terrific. The music is romantic just as a New York evening should be, while the lyrics typify a forthright ode to enchantment itself. Sung by a men’s quartet, everything from the harmony to the tempo is perfect about this song. When the performance concluded, I had cold chills. It’s just that stunning.

I’ve embedded the Glee performance of the song below. A music only version can be found here, and here. Lyrics follow after the jump. Enjoy!

http://www.hulu.com/embed/n8lL8T_JbRw1pRH77ntN4g/742/853

Bella Notte
As performed by the Cast of Glee

Oh, this is the night
It’s a beautiful night
And we call it bella notte

Look at the skies
They have stars in their eyes 
On this lovely bella notte

Side by side with your loved one
You’ll find enchantment here

The night will weave it’s magic spell
When the one you love is near

Oh this is the night and heavens are right 
On this lovely bella notte

This is the night
It’s a beautiful night
And they call it bella notte

Look at the skies
They have stars in their eyes 
On this lovely belle notte

Side by side with your loved one
You’ll find enchantment here

The night will weave it’s magic spell
When the one you love is near

Oh this is the night and heavens are right 
On this lovely bella notte

Song of the Week: My Song Is Love Unknown

Easter BloomsIt’s Good Friday here in Tucson. Outside my office window, the blue palo verde trees are alive with buds of yellow, their annual bloom timed almost in celebration of Easter weekend.

It’s always a bit difficult for me to write about Easter. Putting into words an expression of the Divine has been mankind’s great struggle for centuries, across a multitude of disparate fields ranging from art to law.

But as a recovering choir member, my favorite reflections on God have always been through music. I’ve only recently discovered the Pax Plena Song of the Week, but it has made a significant impact on the way I think about Jesus, and his death on this Good Friday, in particular.

My Song is Love Unknown is not a new hymn. Written in 1664 by Samuel Crossman, an influential Anglican minister and eventual Dean of Bristol Cathedral, the original music was set to a tune called “Wesley” from a much earlier era. But the most famous iteration of the hymn’s music was composed by John Ireland in 1918 – a tune aptly titled, “Love Unknown.”

Crossman’s words, in essence, are a collection of ruminations on Jesus’s death. As with most hymns, and much of aesthetics generally, the beauty of the lyrics is their simplicity.

Seven stanzas strong, the song begins with a meditation exploring one’s personal insignificance vis-à-vis Jesus’s timeless act of sacrifice. In the opening strains, Crossman wonders, O who am I, that for my sake my Lord should take frail flesh and die? Although simply stated, Crossman’s question is really the mystery of the Gospels. Indeed, this ‘love unknown’ is exactly what humanity still hasn’t quite figured out, some two thousand years removed from the event.

Other stanzas of the song include refelctions about the trial of Jesus (stanza 3), and the freeing of Barabas instead of Jesus (stanza 6). But the most interesting aspect of the hymn is the theme of friendship that runs throughout the lyrics.

Toward the begining of the piece (stanza 2), Crossman acknowledges Jesus’s Divine origins, but rather than leaving the Son of God in abstraction, Crossman simply calls him “my friend.” But O, my friend, my friend indeed, who at my need his life did spend. In concluding the piece (stanza 7), Crossman again returns to the theme of friendship. After proclaiming the risen Christ, Crossman is not content to leave Jesus to the Heavens, but describes Jesus as simply a “friend” in whose company he longs to spend his days. This is my friend in whose sweet praise, I all my days could gladly spend.

The compelling thing about Crossman’s emphasis of friendship is that when two people are friends they bring no obligation into the relationship. Typically, a person considers another to be a friend because they want to, not because they have to.

When this dynamic is applied to a relationship with Jesus, and by extension God, the result is a beautiful expression of ‘love unknown.’ I suppose, in this way, Crossman actually gives definition to the abstract. The ‘love unknown’ in Crossman’s hymn becomes something that is quite familiar: the Love Unknown is the relationship of friendship itself – one between man and He who came to die for all mankind. And assuming one has free agency, one loves Christ because one wants to, not because one has to.

In all, the song is a perfect song of the week for this Good Friday, and Easter weekend. In keeping with Crossman’s theme, my Friends, please enjoy a beautiful performance of the hymn below by the Choir of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London.

My Song Is Love Unknown
By Samuel Crossman (1664)
Arr. by John Ireland (1918)

My song is love unknown,
My Saviour’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take frail flesh and die?

 

He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed-for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend, my Friend indeed,
Who at my need His life did spend.

 

Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then “Crucify!” is all their breath,
And for His death they thirst and cry.

 

Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight,
Sweet injuries! Yet they at these
Themselves displease, and ’gainst Him rise.

 

They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they save,
The Prince of life they slay,
Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
That He His foes from thence might free.

 

In life, no house, no home
My Lord on earth might have;
In death no friendly tomb
But what a stranger gave.
What may I say? Heav’n was His home;
But mine the tomb wherein He lay.

 

Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.


Song of the Week: Swanee River

The Pax Plena Song of the Week will doubtless be a familiar one in the great American songbook. Written by composer Stephen C. Coster in 1851, (Old Folks at Home) or Swanee River has long been a staple of American music.

Though the melody itself has been criticized for its supposedly racist undertones, the lyrics actually tell the story of world traveller long displaced from his home. Such a tale would be fairly innocuous, but for the African-American vernacular incorporated into the lyrics, and the use of the word “darkie,” presumably in reference to other Blacks in the chorus. As an example of Foster’s use of the African-American vernacular, in the original score, Foster used the words “ribber,” “ebber,” and “mudder,” to refer to the words river, ever, and mother respectively. While the move is decidedly politically incorrect, there really isn’t anything inherently racist, or even offensive about the song. In fact, even the use of the word ‘darkie’ can arguably be interpreted as an paean to inclusiveness – particularly when Foster could have used much more loaded “N-word.” As the platitude goes, context is crucial.

Controversy aside, what makes the song interesting is the soaring story the lyrics tell through Foster’s music. The song follows the plight of a wanderer who has travelled far away from home, only to realize that the grass isn’t necessarily greener elsewhere. As the music swells, the bard yearns for home, and the old folks, and brighter days past.

In truth, I suppose I hear some of my own thoughts when I listen to the piece. In many ways, having been removed from Cotton County, Oklahoma nearly ten years come September, I too feel a bit as if I have been ‘up and down the whole creation’ sadly roaming, longing for home all the while. What Foster manages to do is capture these sentiments in pithy language, setting them against one of the most emotional scores in music history.

And really that’s what makes a musical selection great: the best renditions take our unspoken thoughts and put them to a melody that captures our feelings at a particular moment in time. Listening to the song, one can nigh feel tears welling up from the deep within as the singer longs for sunny days spent with siblings, and with a mother that departed this life long ago. Though the lyrics are the vehicle for delivery, the emotional punch is packed through foster’s arrangement.

With that, please enjoy, the Pax Plena Song of the Week, Swanee River. Lyrics and music appear below, and a series of performances of the piece follow.

8 Old Folks at Home

Bing Crosby is always the gold standard for any musical performance. Naturally, his rendition of Swanee River from the Kraft Music Hall Shows of the 1930s and 40s is stellar.

Aside from Crosby, the first notable performance of the song is actually an improvisational piece called the “Swanee River Boogie” performed by Albert Ammons. Ammons’s fingers tickle the ivories in a way that only a jazz musician can.

A second performance of the song is performed by Luca Sestak, a German teenager, and a certifiable, piano prodigy. Sestak’s performance is enough to make yours truly wish I were good at something – viz., anything.

One final, notable performance of Swanee River comes from the Alvin and the Chipmunks Show from the 1980s and 1990s. The trio perform a riff on the old minstrel performances of the 1850s, with Dave Seville playing the straight-laced interlocutor, and the Chipmunks playing a tripartite amalgam of Tambo and Bones.

This isn’t to say the clip is politically correct – in fact, it’s almost difficult to fathom any cartoon today producing similar programming – but the jokes are wonderfully terrible.

For example:

Dave: Good evening, Gentlemen. How are you feeling this evening?

Alvin: How am I feeling, Mr. Interlocutor?

Dave: That’s right, Alvin, how are you feeling?

Alvin: With my fingers, Mr. Interlocutor.

Chipmunks: Yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck.

 

Song of the Week: Make a Mistake

The Pax Plena Song of the Week reminds me of a steamy New Hampshire summer, and Fourth-of-Julys past spent along the Charles River in Boston. Released in 2003, Brad Paisley’s Make a Mistake was an instant favorite of mine the momenet I heard its ornate guitar work, and upbeat lyrics, lo so many years ago.

The tune is simple and easily sung, like most Brad Paisley tunes. But in many ways it’s exactly this simplicity of country music that makes it at all interesting.

Rant: Let’s face it, if you want to listen to generic pop music all you need to do is pirate the latest Justin Bieber album, or the musical excrement we call Lady Gaga. I say ‘pirate’ because if your music taste is poor enough to actually pay for it, well, I can’t help you and your head will probably explode once you click video below and listen to real music. Suffice it to say, given how country music is the veritable, polar opposite of everything “pop” and generic, it’s little surprise that yours truly gravitates towards it – not unlike Charlie Sheen gravitating toward a train wreck. Moths to a flame, as they say.

Anyway, the lyrics of the tune tell a simple story of a boy urging a girl he likes to “make a mistake” with him. It’s a bit cliché admittedly, but so is a lot of what we enjoy about relationships. We’ve all seen the movie where the lovelorn girl tells her beau their romance cannot be because it would surely be a mistake. Paisley’s song is the beau’s rebuttal.

Rescuing the song, perhaps from itself, is Paisley’s nothing less than amazing handiwork on the guitar. The strumming and picking on both the melody and the chorus are stellar. Until hearing this song, I honestly did not comprehend how fast the human finger can move. I thought my 10-words-per-minute typing was impressive.

At any rate, there’s only so much that I can say on behalf of a song that is eminently qualified to speak for itself. With that, please enjoy the extended edition of Make a Mistake, featuring an extra three minutes of Brad Paisley making the guitar his bitch.

 

Make a Mistake
By Brad Paisley

You over think things
You say what if we’re not meant to be
Well you know what so what
Make a mistake with me

Nobody goes through this life and does
Everything perfectly
We’re all gonna fail so you might as well
Make a mistake with me

Sometimes baby when we take
A chance that has this much at stake
We look back and in hindsight
What seemed wrong looks more like right

So I say worst case we’ll be left with
Lots of good memories
This chance we have well it’s worth that 
So make a mistake with me

I’m tellin’ you the right thing to do
Is make a mistake
Make a mistake
Make a mistake with me

Song of the Week: Ain’t Got a Dime to My Name

The Pax Plena Song of the Week became an instant favorite when I heard it while watching the 1942 Hollywood classic, Road to Morocco. By the by, Road to Morocco has been called the most stereotypical film ever to come out of Hollywood. This, of course, makes it a must-see film for anyone with a sense of humor.

Sung by the greatest singer that ever lived, Bing Crosby’s Ain’t Got a Dime to My Name is a whimsical musing on the things that are important in life. And despite grappling with fairly weighty subject matter, the song is wonderfully light and fun.

In the film, Crosby’s character Jeff Peters has just sold his cousin “Turkey” Jackson (Bob Hope) into slavery. Having been properly chastised by his long-dead aunt (also played by Bob Hope), Bing walks the streets of the nameless Moroccan city looking for his cousin. I won’t spoil the ending, but slavery has been mighty kind to Turkey.

Like any cousin with the voice of an angel, Jeff Peters begins to sing Turkey’s favorite song in order to draw Turkey’s attention, and facilitate his rescue. Enter the song of the week.

The genius of the Jimmy Van Heusen-arranged piece is that it combines Crosby as the lone soloist with an airy jazz assortment typical of the era’s big band music. This gives the song a smooth, swing feel that immediately focuses the ear on Crosby’s singing. From there, the performance is pretty much effortless, despite the silly dance number Bing performs in the middle of the song.

The piece itself has a balanced mix of brass and wind instruments, that are accented nicely by an up-tempo percussion line. The gem of the song is brief jazz harp solo after the fourth stanza.

The lyrics, written by Johnny Burke, tell the story of an impecunious person who ‘ain’t got a dime’ to his name. But rather than sinking into the depths of despair, the man glibly replies, “ho, hum.”

The incongruity of the response makes the song especially fantastic. For most, money will always be a worry of sorts. But the song reminds listeners that a ‘shady ole tree’ can be as tremendous a luxury as ‘shirts made of silk.’ The point is as well taken now as it was then. The roots of our consumer culture, apparently, run quite deep.

True to form, the song concludes with the simple observation that the singer will ‘never get rich.’ This prompts the greatest line of ho hums in the entire song.

Please, enjoy the Pax Plena song of the week, Ain’t Got a Dime to My Name (Ho Hum) as performed by Bing Crosby.

Ain’t Got a Dime to My Name
By Bing Crosby
Ain’t got a dime to my name,
What a terrible shame
Ho Hum, ho ho Hum.

Just found a hole in my shoe,
And my stockin’ shows through
Ho Hum, ho ho Hum.

I know that when you’re as free
As a bird in a tree, life is a wonderful whim.
Look at the crank with his dough in the bank,
Don’t you feel sorry for him?

Rolling along at a loss,
Never gathering moss,
Ho Hum, ho ho ho hoo Hum.

(Take it!)

I’m no terrific success,
I often worry I guess
Ho Hum, Wo ho ho Hum.

I like a shady ole’ tree,
Whats a matter with me?
Ho Hum, ho hohoho Hum.

There’s nothing quite as grotesque,
As a man at a desk,
Looking outside at the sun,
Shirts made of silk,
And a diet of milk,
Maybe he thinks he has fun.

I’ve got the vagabond itch,
Guess I’ll never get rich
Ho Hum, ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho hmm…

Song of the Week: L-O-V-E

Since today is St. Valentine’s Day, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate song of the week than Nat “King” Cole’s L-O-V-E.

L-O-V-E was recorded on a sunny Wednesday afternoon on June 3, 1964 in Hollywood, CA. Having listened to the song in numerous movies, and in my own music collection, whenever I hear L-O-V-E I can’t help but think of a ride I once took down Hollywood Boulevard en route to the Capitol Records building, palm trees swaying against sun-drenched skies.

Isn’t this basically how love feels? Every cloud has beauty. Every kiss is an exciting mystery. It’s as if the skies were painted blue by God Himself, just for you. This feeling of wonderment associated with ‘love’ is what Cole’s song captures so well.

Oddly, what makes the piece work is the almost imperceptible crescendo of the music. As Cole begins his etymology of love, the initial lines are soft, if not sultry. As Cole delivers line after classic line, the music builds, interspersed by trombone vignettes, and trumpet solos. By the time Cole bellows that ‘love is made for me and you’ the music is enthralling enough to actually believe him.

The song itself is performed in a masterful legato style that is every bit as smooth as Cole’s baritone voice. The sound is one unique to the artist combining elements of Jazz with Cole’s provenance as a big band singer. At the end, the music almost has a dixieland band feel, concluding the song splendidly.

And what to say about the lyrics? The lyrics have really almost become their own definition of love. At the very least, it seems fair to say that Cole’s lyrics are the most famous acrostic in history. But perhaps the more intriguing part of the song is the way Cole’s simple melody has come to inform our consciousness of what love is and means.

Cole’s song reminds us that two people in love can ‘make it’, damn the odds and divorce rates. It reminds us that love is really all we can give to someone else. And it reinforces what is most important about our relationships. Sure, we can buy presents. We can devise exotic vacations. We can even share a delicious meal, or a fine wine. But all of these things involve something external to the self. Love, on the other hand, is all we can actually give of ourselves to another.

With that thought in mind, just because I ‘love’ my readers, please enjoy this very special Valentine’s Day song of the week, L-O-V-E as performed by Nat “King” Cole.

L-O-V-E
By Nat King Cole

L is for the way you look at me 
O is for the only one I see 
V is very, very extraordinary 
E is even more than anyone that you adore can…

Love is all that I can give to you 
Love is more than just a game for two 
Two in love can make it 
Take my heart and please don’t break it 
Love was made for me and you

L is for the way you look at me 
O is for the only one I see 
V is very, very extraordinary 
E is even more than anyone that you adore can…

Love is all that I can give to you 
Love is more than just a game for two 
Two in love can make it 
Take my heart and please don’t break it 
Love was made for me and you 
Love was made for me and you 
Love was made for me and you

 

Song of the Week: Haven’t Met You Yet

The Pax Plena Song of the Week is a bit of an enigma to me. I enjoyed the song when it was first released, but the video of the piece is perhaps even more endearing than the song itself.

When Michael Bublé’s Haven’t Met You Yet was released in August 2009, the first thing that caught my attention was how clear Bublé’s vocals were throughout the piece. This wasn’t a surprise really. In fact, it was very much befitting the performance one would expect from an international music sensation. But I had grown accustomed to hearing Bublé singing softer, more contemplative songs in his earlier work (see here). I was pleasantly surprised to hear how fun the music of Haven’t Met You Yet was. Accented by a driving beat, and bright chords, the melody aptly captures the whimsical thoughts conveyed by the lyrics.

The song tells the story of a lonely bard, making promises to the love of his life. Pledging his persistence, devotion, and commitment, the singer is poised to enjoy a love that lasts a lifetime, but for the seemingly insignificant detail that he has not yet met the love of his life.

The thoughts communicated in the song are familiar ones – at least to anyone who has ever wondered whether there is a ‘better’ half of them out there. But what’s unique about the message of this song, in particular, is the light-hearted way the question is communicated. Far from being a forlorn, brooding inquiry, Bublé treats the matter with a lot of hope, and for better or worse (depending upon your experience) with a lot of optimism.

The qualities of the song’s music are amplified in the song’s music video.

The basic concept of the music video is that of a smitten Bublé meeting the love of his life in a random grocery store. The stunning blond he meets, of course, is none other than Bublé’s real-life fiancée Luisana Lopilato After meeting the woman of his dreams, the video illustrates Bublé’s thoughts on the future he expects to have with the girl he has fallen for at first sight. In a nod to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the music video culminates with a high school band performing for the couple in the supermarket, while the entire motley of customers, cashiers, and employees join the mini parade.

Above all, this song is fun. It reminds even the jaded among us that love is something to be hopeful for. Per usual, Bublé’s performance is amazing. Luisana Lopilato’s doe-eyes, and golden tresses don’t hurt either.

Besides, who wouldn’t like to fall in love while a ticker-tape parade swirls about?

Haven’t Met You Yet
By Michael Bublé

I’m not surprised, not everything lasts
I’ve broken my heart so many times, I stopped keeping track
Talk myself in, I talk myself out
I get all worked up, then I let myself down

I tried so very hard not to lose it
I came up with a million excuses
I thought, I thought of every possibility

And I know someday that it’ll all turn out
You’ll make me work, so we can work to work it out
And I promise you, kid, that I give so much more than I get
I just haven’t met you yet

I might have to wait, I’ll never give up
I guess it’s half timing, and the other half’s luck
Wherever you are, whenever it’s right
You’ll come out of nowhere and into my life

And I know that we can be so amazing
And, baby, your love is gonna change me
And now I can see every possibility

And somehow I know that it’ll all turn out
You’ll make me work, so we can work to work it out
And I promise you, kid, I give so much more than I get
I just haven’t met you yet

They say all’s fair
In love and war
But I won’t need to fight it
We’ll get it right and we’ll be united

And I know that we can be so amazing
And being in your life is gonna change me
And now I can see every single possibility

And someday I know it’ll all turn out
And I’ll work to work it out
Promise you, kid, I’ll give more than I get
Than I get, than I get, than I get

Oh, you know it’ll all turn out
And you’ll make me work so we can work to work it out
And I promise you kid to give so much more than I get
Yeah, I just haven’t met you yet

I just haven’t met you yet
Oh, promise you, kid
To give so much more than I get

I said love, love, love, love
Love, love, love, love
(I just haven’t met you yet)
Love, love, love, love
Love, love
I just haven’t met you yet

Song of the Week: Silent Night

Brown Baptist ChurchUnlike many families, the Fodder Family Christmas is traditionally held on Christmas Eve. Some of my earliest memories of life come from Christmas Eves spent in the drafty Brown American Indian Baptist Church, just five miles south of Walters on Highway 5.

(Incidentally, this is the same church where I met my wife at the tender age of 13).

As did many of the children, I had a sense of dread as we lined up to participate in the annual Christmas Program. Like criminals waiting to be executed, we somberly walked down the narrow aisle toward the front, parading before the stained glass windows and our adoring families, badly reenacting the birth of Baby Jesus. Invariably someone would fall, see their mother, or make a b-line for the exits in the middle of the procession. And every other year or so, the odd child would simply stand on the stage and cry, giving my mother/director fits.

Of course, nothing matched my personal dread, standing before a packed congregation, and reading the Christmas Story from the book of Luke, usually chapter two:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
(Luke 2:1-2 ESV)

Not to brag, but I have sometimes been asked how I developed what scant public speaking skills I have. My stock answer is that nothing steels the soul quite like reading the Christmas story to a church full of Baptists on Christmas Eve.

And let’s face it, if you can learn to properly pronounce “Quirinius” while speaking in public, well quite nearly anything can roll off the tongue.

Brown Church, Stained Glass WindowAt any rate, my big relief came when the bell tolled, sending a signal to Santa Claus that the torture of the children was over.

Bounding through the front door, parading past the stained glass windows, Santa Clause came with a big bag of presents for all the boys and girls – whether good or bad, much to my chagrin. That particular moment always struck me as an incredible teaching opportunity to stiff the kids that had screwed up our Christmas play.

Santa seemed to think better of it.

Of course, this came as little surprise. Santa Claus was always one to let the odd bit of mischief go unpunished. I knew this first hand. After all, the part of Santa Claus was played by my Grandfather who was generally quite keen to turn a blind eye to the trouble-making caused by his grandchildren.

Many years have passed, and Grandpa Fodder has long since relinquished his role as Santa Claus in the Brown Church Christmas Program. I suppose hip replacement surgery makes it somewhat perilous for squirming children to sit on his lap these days. But the Christmas tradition soldiers on every Dec. 24th.

Papa's Living Room, Christmas 2004Church services were followed by our family Christmas at the Fodder Family Farm. Our stockings hung neatly above the cramped living room. Toys packed deep within the branches at the base of the Christmas tree. Nothing compared to the smell of the cedar as we entered the house. The scent was even more satisfying, knowing that I had helped cut the tree from a grove near the creek behind our house.

After Christmas dinner, pie, and coffee (I began drinking the nectar of the gods around age five) it was finally time to open presents. As the living room became a wasteland of wrapping paper, I could always look forward to the pouting face of my youngest sister when she did not get the Bratz Doll of her choice.

Chelsey - I Hate This Bow

But what I remember most about the Church service, and our family gathering was the music. From the church singing carols in unison, to the small cd player tucked into the corner of our living room, it was always the Christmas music that set the spirit of the evening. Christmas would surely have been memorable and special without the sounds to match. But with them, the evening was perfect.

Among the pantheon of hymns, no song stood out more in my mind than the timeless Christmas Carol, Silent Night as performed by Bing Crosby. I could wax eloquent about the song’s timelessness, and the depth of meaning it communicates. But the carol’s genius is in its brevity, and its profundity in its simplicity. A simple song, for a simple message of redemption that mankind will never fully grasp.

The Bing Crosby version of the Silent Night, circa 1947 is the gold standard for the song. Crosby’s performance is notable for its starkness. A simple white backdrop and a boys choir are all that accompany the voice more widely associated with Christmas than any other.  The carol will almost certainly blare from the iPod player as we open Christmas presents Friday night, in the same cramped living room you see above. For if Christmas isn’t about tradition, then nothing is.

With that, please enjoy the Pax Plena Song of the Week: Silent Night as performed by Bing Crosby. Lyrics follow after the jump.

Silent Night, Holy Night
By Bing Crosby

Silent Night, Holy night, all is calm, all is bright
‘Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in Heavenly peace
Sleep in Heavenly peace

Silent Night, Holy night, shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from Heaven a far
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia
Christ the Savior is born
Christ the Savior is born

Silent Night, Holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace