Winter rests her heavy hand on the shoulder of Autumn, and Autumn relents -- sad, relieved, anticipating the end of the next Summer.
And even with cheery songs, happy faces, gaily lit and decorated surroundings...
There is much in it of Hallowe'en.
This is because, like Autumn, a great part of the beauty of Winter is its darkness.
And, as in the season just ended, we celebrate as Autumn People -- chilling tales of chilling nights, howling winds, icy caverns; frozen bed chambers in forgotten manors; ghosts, mysteries, madmen and monsters.
A thousand generations of long nights endured in the deadest, chilliest, hoariest time of the year have inspired the imaginations of artists, authors, musicians, tale-tellers all over the world to ponder how fragile we can be, how hardy and hale and so easily turned to children in the face of the Great Mystery -- the year's end, the land's seeming death that is Winter.
And still so much beauty in which to find warmth, peace and light.
It is good to be back here at the Skull & Pumpkin.
It has been some time.
I see that no one has disturbed the dust, the cobwebs... the darkness.
Thank you all.
In light of the coming Other Holiday, I thought it was time to change out the ol' jukebox and add a touch of yuletide tunage to our publy party.
Of course, we always begin our jukebox with The Great Pumpkin Waltz -- it is the official theme song of the S&P. We always end it with Pumpkintime, our official incidental music.
Tonight I have added a piano piece from my own repertoire, recorded with the help of violinist Bobby Tillery. From the Stage (L) wings between shows at the Welk Theatre in 1999, comes our short interpretation of Ryuichi Sakamoto's haunting theme from the 1983 film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.
A difficult film that still manages to end with a kind of smile.
The next song has been here before, and I will always add it in December -- the Joni Mitchell song River, performed by James Taylor, available free at his website as a Christmas gift for his fans back in 2006.
It is simple, elegant, and sad... and therefore delicious.
And then, something I just had to share with you all, and for which you will all be so grateful that I expect boxes of coal mailed to the house -- a truly glorious version of Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer which I knew was going to be on our player as soon as I heard it done by Taiwanese pop group Cai Mi Mi & Five Petals (or Mimi Chai & the Five Petals or just Mi Mi Cai or Chai Mi Mi or The Five Petals or just Five Petals but since there are SIX of them, who in hell knows?)...
Their version of Rudolph comes from a 1968 album and I wish I had the rest of that vinyl.
Still searching. Christmas is coming.
And not coincidentally, our jukebox says it is here.
Of course, we begin with a Peanuts tune, so I had to add Vince Guaraldi's ultra-classic, ultra-jazz-trio cut Christmastime Is Here from the so-famous-and-classic-it's-in-our-DNA-since-1965 holiday TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas.
And then, because I cannot shake the feeling that a deep, long winter is repetition of a nearly Zen-like scale, I felt I should end our jukebox additions the same way I began them -- with a piano and violin duet.
This time, it is Barbra Higbie and Darol Anger playing their beautiful dance True Story, from their 1982 album Tideline.
Falling, falling, falling...
I surely hope That Other Holiday treats you right this year. It's certainly bearing down quickly enough.
For now, a wintry nap is in store.
Do stick around and listen, read, dig through the archives.