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Welcome to my website. I hope you will enjoy the eclectic collection of short stories and essays. They are all very close to my heart, in whichever genre. I always welcome comments and feedback. Once again, I hope you enjoy my site. Thank you.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Vodka and Vermouth

  • ·        Inspired by the song “I might hate myself in the morning” by Lee Ann Womack

Vodka, vermouth.”  This would be his third.

The music played in the background.  “To set the mood?”

He had spent the evening sorting through his old country records; choosing songs to fit his sour disposition.

He lit a cigarette.  He had already gone through more than half a pack tonight.

“You look so good in love.  I wish you still wanted me.”

Outside it was a stormy evening.  No lightening, no thunder; but the haze had turned into a gloomy downpour.  Sitting on his couch in his one bedroom apartment, the steady sound of the raindrops matched his despondence. 

He instinctively mixed himself another martini.

He looked out the window; the soft inundation of the storm upon the ground engrossed his senses.  His light-headiness from the alcohol mixed with the mise-en-scene to compound the desolate solitude.

More sad country records; he spent many nights such as this.  Alone, he would drink martinis to the background of heart-wrenching sounds; magnifying his self-pity.

Lighting another cigarette he once again searched through his collection of music.  Choosing only the most tragic of them all while his inebriation compounded.

Doug Stone, hopefully this wouldn’t be too trite.”

Typical to his own senses, he spent many nights such as this, relishing his misery.

Lighting another cigarette, he thought back.

He had taken her to SantaBarbara.  The ocean that time of year was breath-taking.  It had been stormy that winter, but with the chillness of spring, the scenery was only enhanced.  Driving up the coast the crystal blue water of the coast could be savored.  Her beautiful smile and cheerful demeanor had brought hope with it in his life.  Maybe this had been what was missing?  Work had always been steady, as did every facet of his social life.  He had been living in a sky-rise apartment in the city after promotion and promotion at work that he enjoyed.  Friendship was not hard to find, but a meaningful relationship had been lacking.     

As they were driving up alongside the ocean the conversation had been inconsequential, but the companionship somehow meaningful.  Her smile and her happiness infectiously warmed his heart.  He had learned to find joy in his life.

He poured another drink.  The slight inebriation had crossed to mild intoxication.  He felt comfortable in this setting, as he spent much time alone.  Lighting another cigarette, he continued listening to the rain and to the music on the stereo. 

There were no tears, only a melancholy poise.

They had driven to a spot on the ocean and decided to take a stroll up and down the peer.  Her eyes enticed while all he could give in return was an honest smile.  This love was real.

They walked down the peer eyeing the ocean-side shops and boutiques.  They walked into a spot that held an art gallery. Ocean scenes were expressed magnificently on the canvases.  Monetarily as well-off as he was, it was not a burden to buy her one.  The ocean waves against the rocks magistrated a feeling of ah.

They came to a popular local eatery where they took part in an excellent seafood meal.

Life had never been better. 

As the music played in the background and he finished another of many drinks and thought, “How could I lose her?”

Matching every word to what he felt in his soul, his senses became numb.  Cigarette after cigarette he smoked, thinking of her.

He could call her on the phone?  Sometimes he did.  She was probably busy, but sometimes she still had time for him.  He would call and start by saying hello.  Although it was over, they were still friendly with each other. 

“Can I see you tonight?” he would ask. 

Sometimes she said yes, while other times the phone would just ring. 

One more night?   Would that be enough?  It would have to be. 

He picked up the phone.  With no self-respect, he would call her praying for one more taste of what used to be.

The phone rang.  The phone rang again.  One more time, it rang.  She probably knew it was him.  Would she answer or let it ring?

“Hello,” she said.

“This is Martin.  Are you busy tonight?”

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Top 10 Country Songs ... Christmas Songs

“Top 10 Country Songs … Christmas Songs”

Christmastime comes once a year, the saying goes.  With Christmas comes merriment, sentiment, and spirituality.  Of the rich tradition of Christmas music, much of it is in the country genre.  Moreover, this extensive songbook contains many covers of Christmas standards as well as an extensive amount original material.

Much loved Christmas songs such as Have yourself a merry little Christmas, as made famous by Judy Garland, and The Christmas Song, which is a signature song of Nat King Cole, have been rejuvenated by modern day country singers.  These singers’ renditions have sometimes remained loyal to the tradition of these Christmas standards, while others have received a new life with styles of a particularly country flair. 

This list of Christmas songs includes Christmas songs which are among my favorite in all genres.  Some capture the religious nature of Christmas, some the warmth, and some celebrate the joviality of the season.  However, all have significance of their own as songs with particularly strong lyrics sung with the wonderful renditions of music from great entertainers.

Number 10:        White Christmas by Keith Urban
                          KeithUrban Official Fan Page
                          WhiteChristmas Video

This song is one of the most well-known and well-loved Christmas songs in any genre.  The song has been recorded by a plethora of artists bringing love into the hearts of all those celebrating the season.  The song, not particularly religious in nature, however, captures the sentiment and warmth of the season to those touched by the song.

Number 9:          All I want for Christmas is a real good tan by Kenny Chesney
                          KennyChesney Official Fan Page
                          AllI want for Christmas is a real good tan Video

Christmas music sometimes captures the sentiment of the season and sometimes captures the mood of the season.  This song does so expressing the love for a woman in the context of the song.  This song serves this purpose juxtaposing the chill of winter for summertime good spiritedness.  The light-hearted lyrical styling of this song serves as a unique addition to many of the more traditional Christmas songs.

Number 8:          I’ll be home for Christmas by Vince Gill
                          VinceGill Official Fan Page
                          I’llbe Home for Christmas Video

This song is one of the most sentimental of all Christmas songs.  This country cover stays true to the original recording made most famous by Frank Sinatra.   The smooth and soothing voice of Vince Gill invokes the loneliness that can sometimes be immersed within the Christmas season.  This longing for togetherness impresses the love that sometimes can only be known by loneliness.

Number 7:          Santa looked a lot like Daddy by Garth Brooks
                          GarthBrooks Official Fan Page
                          Santalooked a lot like Daddy Video (Brad Paisley Version)

This country original, first recorded by Buck Owens, is an all but re-write of the traditional children’s Christmas carol, I saw Mommykissing Santa Clause.  It has a particularly country feel and it is full of the merriment of the holiday.  Sung by Garth Brooks in his Beyond the Season CD, his voice and style match the song to perfection.

Number 6:          Christmas Cookies by George Strait
                          George Strait Official Fan Page
                          Christmas Cookies Video
In this song, George Strait’s enjoyment in singing this Christmas song is easily recognized.  The song simply is about enjoying the season.  Rather than Christmas being the theme to the song, it is the setting.  As originally recorded on George Strait’s A Merry Christmas Strait to You Christmas Album, it is a treasure to be found among the many Christmas standards.

Number 5:          Nuttin’ for Christmas by Sugarland
                          SugarlandOfficial Fan Page
                          Nuttin’for Christmas Video

This song certainly does not attempt to proclaim the love of the season.  It does not proclaim the sentimentality of the season.  However, the song’s originality warrants its inclusion on this list.  The comedic nature and suburb lyrical interpretation of Jennifer Nettles set this song apart from most other Christmas songs and the song should remain a perennial favorite for years to come.

Number 4:          Santa Baby by Kellie Pickler
                          KellyPickllie Official Fan Page
                          SantaBaby Video

After hearing Kelly Pickler’s sing this Christmas song all I have to say is “All I want for Christmas is Kelly Pickler.”  This song which was made famous by Ertha Kitt, has been re-recorded in many styles.   Some singers have covered this song in upbeat versions, others in slower, bluesy versions.  However, this cover by Kelly Pickler is the strongest of all and her voice and sensuous styling make it a song to relish.

Number 3:          The Christmas Song by Alan Jackson
                          AlanJackson Official Fan Page
                          TheChristmas Song Video

This well-known Christmas standard was originally recorded by the singer Nat King Cole.  It is enjoyed in its original rendition as a Christmas tradition by many.  Moreover, it has been re-recorded many times by a number of musical artists of all genres.  However, this version of the song rivals the smooth performance of the original recording.  The emotive interpretation of Alan Jackson is the captures the essence is the season and fills the hearts of its listeners with warmth and love.

Number 2:          Have yourself a merry little Christmas by Martina McBride
                          MartinaMcBride Official Fan Page
                          Haveyourself a merry little Christmas Video

Martina McBride’s voice transcends all genres in its excellence.  Its strength and tenderness invoke pining in the hearts in all of its listeners.  Her voice, which is highlighted by the melody, powerfully appeals to the best in the sentiments of the season.   Although the song is not religious in nature, the love expressed in it reflects the best of the Christmas tradition.

Number 1:          Do you hear what I hear? By Carry Underwood
                          CarryUnderwood Official Fan Page
                          Doyou hear what I hear? Video

Carry Underwood is comparably new on the country music scene.  She has not released a holiday album which is traditional to those achieving success in the country music genre.  Her
voice and songbook is strong, with songs crossing the emotive fields of female barroom antics to that of a religious awakening.   However, her strong voice in this song marks it as one of her own.

This song expressly captures the religious nature of the holiday season in a most traditional essence.  The song realizes the love a loving Jesus and transcends to the love which is felt in all of us in the celebration of the holiday.   The song deals not only with this love, but the love with one and other.  It also celebrates the promise of salvation which has been promised with the celebration of Christmas which is the celebration of Jesus and a loving God.

Carry Underwood has recorded other Christmas songs on different occasions, however, none as notable as this.  As a well-known and renowned talent, her career is still in its infancy.  Based on this song and the strength of the rest of her songbook, we can all look forward to more music, more albums, and hopefully a Christmas album with which we can all more fully enjoy and celebrate the holiday season.

I hope you enjoy this list of “Top 10 Country Songs …. Christmas Songs.” and that you listen to them often during this most celebrated of season.  These songs represent the best of Christmas songs, including: songs
of frivolity, songs of love, and songs of spirituality.  During this season I hope this music will help us tap into the love in all of our heart’s which represents the best in all of us.  Keep on open for future “Top 10 Country Song … Collections.”

Thank you.