Stephen T. McCarthy and FarAwayEyes back in August of 2013. It occurs on the 1st and the 15th of every month, and I think it's a fun way to share and discuss music. Each of the bloggers taking part offers their readers a choice of two (or occasionally more) versions of the same song, performed by different recording artists. And the readers get to vote for their favorite rendition.
With it being December, it's also a great time for a battle of Christmas music, or at least in this case, some music which has a tie-in to Christmas (for my BOTB post on December 15th, I'll feature a much more traditional Christmas song).
One of my favorite Christmas things is the TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas. First broadcast in 1965, this animated special of 'The Peanuts' gang drawn by Charles M. Schulz is something I love to see every year. Part of it is tradition -- it's one of the earliest TV specials I recall seeing, and it's been on every year since I was 5 years old. But besides nostalgia, I also love the gentle, warm way it touches on the importance of friends, redemption, acceptance, and it's timeless message about the over-commercialization of the holiday and what the true meaning of Christmas really is.
Composed and performed by The Vince Guaraldi Trio, the soundtrack from A Charlie Brown Christmas is filled with wonderful, timeless songs. In fact, I even featured "Christmas Time is Here" from this soundtrack last year for my very first BOTB post, and so I thought I'd visit it again this year.
In this battle, I'm using one of the most iconic tracks from the album -- the Linus and Lucy theme. It's probably the least "Christmas-y" song since it features no words and seems to have little to do with the holiday other than it's association with this TV special. But it's also probably one of the most well-known tunes from this album -- it went on to become the theme for the Peanuts and virtually every other Charlie Brown special.
I'm not going to use the original in this battle since I think it might win over any contender, but for your reference (and listening pleasure), here is that original jazzy version by the Vince Guaraldi Trio:
Great song, isn't it? I love the vibe, the changes, and the soulful playing -- even if someone doesn't like jazz, they often like this. It transcends genre.
There are a LOT of covers of this song that I could use for a battle, but being a guitarist, I'm going with two very different interpretations of it, both of which are done live.
Let the Battle Begin!
First up is guitarist Gary Hoey, with a live performance of the song. Gary's done a lot of Christmas covers, with several "Ho Ho Hoey" CDs available along with Christmas shows. This might not be a song you would expect to hear Hendrix references, but Gary pulls it off. Here's a live video from 2009:
Another guitarist who covered this song was the phenomenal Tele-master Danny Gatton. During the late 1980s and early 1990's, he typically incorporated it into a medley that ended his concerts -- he'd work in snippets of "The Orange Blossom Special," and many other bits into a blazing song that covered 8 to 10 minutes. Here's a video from You Tube which showcases mainly just the "Linus and Lucy" beginning, done live in Washington DC in 1989. While it doesn't have all the amazing playing that would typically come after, it does focus on the song-at-hand, which prevents clouding the waters of this battle. See what you think:
So now it's your turn to add your input: Which cover do you like better? Gary Hoey's hard-rocking version with the great playing, or Danny Gatton's telecaster-shredding rendition from the beginning of his show-ending medley?
I invite you to listen to both of these and give them each an honest chance. And remember that this is a contest about the music -- not the images in the videos, Please use your ears to judge, not your eyes.
After listening, please vote in the comments as to which version you think is best, or which speaks to you the deepest. Feel free to also share as much as you would like about how any of the above videos strike you, even if it's less than positive.
Then -- afterwards, check out the other BOTB bloggers to vote on their battles:
- Far Away Series (FarAwayEyes)
- Stephen T. McCarthy's Battle of the Bands Blog
- Tossing it Out (Arlee Bird)
- Your Daily Dose (Robin)
- DiscConnected (DiscConnected)
- Mike's Ramblings (Mike Pain)
- Curious as a Cathy (Cathy Kennedy)
- John Hilton (The Sound of One Hand Typing)
- And even Alex J. Cavanaugh sometimes...
Thank you very much for listening and for voting -- come back and visit again next week to find out how the voting has gone. I'll make a post then with my own vote and also announce the winner.
And in the meantime, I hope you enjoy the Christmas season: Its great music, its wonderful traditions, the joy of family, and -- of course -- The True Meaning of Christmas.