Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy

Since we are currently in Advent time, I reckon it’s safe to start talking about Christmas again.

My all-time favourite Christmas song is Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy by Bing Crosby and David Bowie. my all-time favourite Christmas song. It’s hard to believe that they recorded it 45 years ago. It’s not just a song about the yuletide festivities and presents and the birth of Christ, but it is foremost a song of hope for a peaceful planet.

The duet was one of Crosby’s final recordings before his death in October 1977.

Following the special’s broadcast during the 1977 holiday season, “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” went unavailable for many years. It was eventually released as a single by RCA Records in November 1982 and was a commercial success, peaking at number three on the UK Singles Chart. It was Crosby’s final popular hit. It became one of the best-selling singles of Bowie’s career, with total estimated sales of over 400,000 in the UK alone. The song has since become a Christmas classic in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom and has been referred to by The Washington Post as “one of the most successful duets in Christmas music history.”

“Peace on Earth, can it be? Years from now, perhaps we’ll see. I pray my wish will come true. For my child and your child too.”

He’ll see the day of glory. See the day when men of goodwill
Live in peace, live in peace again.”

David Bowie talks about his six-year-old son. That, of course, is Duncan Jones, director of movies like Moon, Source Code, Warcraft and Mute.

sources

https://musikguru.de/bing-crosby-david-bowie/songtext-peace-on-earth-little-drummer-boy-1052778.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_on_Earth/Little_Drummer_Boy

Sinterklaas in World War II

One thing that always surprises me in any war, particularly World War II, is that so many aspects of normal life still happened. The Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas (St Nicholas aka Santa Claus) on December 5, but he usually arrives in the country in mid-November.

This is one of the celebrations which continued during World War II. Following are just some impressions.

Mobilized Dutch soldiers were surprised by a visit from Sinterklaas and his servant. The good saint hands out surprise gifts to the soldiers in December 1939.

Commando troops of the Commando-Brabant/Regiment Commando-Brabant during the Second World War. Soldiers of the 8th company during a Sinterklaas celebration in December 1944.

Sinterklaas or collaborator? Visit of Arthur Seyss-Inquart to the Leerdam glass factories, where a large St. Nicholas party was organized for poor Leerdam children. Here Sinterklaas shakes hands with Seyss-Inquart.

Seyss-Inquart was the Reich commissioner for the German-occupied Netherlands. he shared responsibility for the deportation of Dutch Jews and the shooting of hostages.

sources

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/arthur-seyss-inquart

Christmas in Westerbork

At first glance when you look at the picture it doesn’t appear to be extraordinary. There is an officer clearly giving a speech. There are a few Christmas trees at the back so it appears to be some sort of Christmas do.

The officer is Albert Konrad Gemmeker he was a German SS-Obersturmführer and camp commandant of the Westerbork transit camp.

He was considered the friendly face of Nazi evil. Known as a decent commander, who insisted that he never knew what happened to the Jews in camps such as Auschwitz. Yet during his reign at the Dutch camp, around 80,000 Jewish people were deported to Auschwitz.

On 19 December 1942 Gemmeker threw a Christmas party, or rather a Julfest (Yule feast).

The venue for his party was Westerbork. According to some survivors, a line of shiny new cars had pulled up to the camp, with several high-ranking SS officers and their mistresses or prostitutes, either way not their wives. Officers like Aus der Funten and photographer Breslau, Untersturmführer Hassel, who was there with his wife.

The big hall in Westerbork was filled with SS staff celebrating. What makes it even more disturbing is that their food was cooked and served by some of those 80,000 Gemmeker would later send to Auschwitz, to be murdered.

sources

https://www.rug.nl/news/2019/05/kampcommandant-gemmeker-jarenlang-bevreesd-voor-nieuwe-rechtszaak?lang=en

https://anderetijden.nl/aflevering/406/Kerstmis-in-Westerbork-

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Die Hard, Christmas movie? “Yippee-Ki-yay” or “Yippee-Ki-nay?”

Die Hard, a Christmas movie? Yippee-Ki-yay or Yippee-Ki-nay?

Every year around Christmas time there is the question “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?” Personally, for me, it is not Christmas until I see Hans Gruber fall off the Nakatomi building.

However, I appreciate that that will not get everyone in a festive mood. So, let us look at what constitutes a Christmas movie. According to sites like the Hollywood reporter and cheatsheet.com a Christmas movie must
• Be set around Christmas
• Have a Christmas setting, things like decorations, a tree etc.
• Christmas music and carols
• Festivities
• A topless woman, oh no wait that is a different list, I should have checked that twice.
Die Hard fulfils all those criteria (including the topless woman).
To compare with a classic Christmas movie like White Christmas?
Die Hard takes place entirely during the Christmas holidays, while only the first and final scenes of White Christmas are set during the holiday season. The entirety of Die Hard is also at a Christmas party, while only the end of its 1950s counterpart is.
Therefore, the only conclusion can be that Die Hard is a Christmas movie. In fact, it is probably the most multicultural Christmas movie of all time. It is set in Los Angeles in a Japanese-owned building, which is taken over by German, French, Chinese, and Italian terrorists.

Christopher Lee-Heavy Metal star

We all know Christopher Lee as Count Dracula, or as the Sith lord Count Dooku. Some of you may even know him as the evil wizard Saruman from the Lord of the Rings. Others may know him as the dentist father of Willie Wonka.

Few will know of his real life heroic exploits during World War 2 ,where he was attached to the No. 260 Squadron RAF as an intelligence officer where he was a liaison officer for the Special Operations Executive.

Even fewer will know him as a Rock star, Heavy Metal star even, yet he was.

Lee became a fan of metal in the early Seventies when he first heard Black Sabbath, whose guitarist Tony Iommi reciprocated the respect the actor had for his band and the genre it spawned. In a 2013 promotional video for one of Lee’s own albums, he told Iommi, “You are the father of metal,” to which the guitarist replied, “But you’re the one that started it, really, because we used to go watch Dracula and the horror films you did and that’s what influenced us.”

He worked together with Heavy Metal acts like Rhapsody of Fire and Manowar.

In late 2010 it was announced that Manowar were to rerecord Battle Hymns for a November 26 release. The album, Battle Hymns MMXI, was drummer Donnie Hamzik’s first studio recording with Manowar since the original 1982 Battle Hymns release. Orson Welles having died 25 years before, the narration during “Dark Avenger” was recorded by Sir Christopher Lee.

But prior to the Manowar’s re-release of “Battle Hymns” Christopher Lee had already released his first album.

“Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross” is a symphonic metal concept album . It was released on 15 March 2010. This was Lee’s first full-length album. It tells the story of Charlemagne, the First Holy Roman Emperor. The album’s promotional MySpace page garnered over 20 million hits globally The album features 2 metal bands, and a number of guest vocalists playing the different roles in the story. Music was composed by Marco Sabiu. A music video for “The Bloody Verdict of Verden” was released in June 2012.

Christopher Lee was 90(yes that’s right 90) when the single was released. That must surely make him the oldest Rocker ever.

He had released two albums previously. His first one “Christopher Lee Sings Devils, Rogues & Other Villains” released in 1998 was not Heavy Metal albums.

His second album “Revelation” from 2006 was a cover album and did include some heavy metal tracks. like “The Toreador March”.

In 2012 and 2013 he released two Christmas albums .titled “A Heavy Metal Christmas” (2012), and “A Heavy Metal Christmas Too” (2013).

2013 must have been a busy musical year for Sir Christopher lee, because he also released the follow up to “Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross” that year, titled “Charlemagne: The Omens of Death”

It was his fourth and final album and was released on 27 May 2013,his 91st birthday It is a sequel to his album Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross (2010). The music was arranged by Judas Priest’s Richie Faulkner, and features prominent Guatemalan guitar virtuoso and World Guitar Idol Champion Hedras Ramos on guitar, as well as his father, Hedras Ramos Sr, on bass.

This must make Sir Christopher Lee the coolest man on earth. He would have been 99 today. Alas he died on June 7, 2015, aged 93. But the man live a truly full life.

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The lesser known Christmas songs

Most radio station are flooding the airwaves with Christmas songs at this stage, and there is nothing wrong with that. I love Christmas and especially love the music that goes with it.

However I do find that the same songs get played every year, there are songs which get very little airplay but are just as good as any other.

Below are just a few of them.

Jim Croce-It doesn’t have to be that way.

Fay Lovski -Christmas was a friend of mine

Dan Fogelberg-Same old lang syne

All About Eve -December

Stevie Wonder-What Christmas Means to Me’

Johnny Cash-I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

And although it is a new song it has already become one of my all time favourites

Sandra-Mae Luc -Where is Christmas Now.

Happily ever now- My interview with Sandra Mae Lux

Music suits the savage beast and when you have a very talented and skillful musician playing great music it can really lift your heart.

This is my interview with Sandra Mae Lux about her album Happily ever now.

Enjoy, there is a nice Christmas treat at the end.

A very Dickens Christmas meal.

Dickens

In the mid 1800’s Lady Maria Clutterbuck published a cook book called “what shall we have for dinner?” An introduction was written by Sir Charles Coldstream.

It was a cook book typical of the Victorian era. The book did not necessarily instructions how to cook a meal it was more a book of menus. like the one below a menu for the winter time and possibly for Christmas.

menu

You will have difficulties in finding more works by Lady Maria Clutterbuck or the writer of the introduction ,Sir Charles Coldstream. They were in fact the pseudonyms of Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine Dickens.

It is unclear when Catherine Dickens cook book was first published but a second edition was published in 1851.

Catherine

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2, however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thank you. To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the PayPal link. Many thanks.

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