I’m known for my annual compilations of Christmas rock n’ roll music. I’ve put together 19 so far, and the very first one back in 1999, was a double disc collection. I don’t know what happened to #20. The time just got away from me this year. My thoughts were elsewhere. I thought about compiling the songs, but I never found a spare moment to listen and vet a collection worth sharing. I tested a few new tracks in my holiday DJ set at a local brewery the week before Christmas, and they all met with a positive response that earmarked them for the 2019 compilation, but that’s as far as I got. My friend Dave even tried to get me jump-started on the project a few months ago with several songs he’d discovered, but I never got around to pairing those excellent recommendations with other tunes from my vast collection of worthy accomplices. Of course just when you think no one noticed or even cares anymore, a sister or a friend pipes up and says, “Hey, did you mail out your 2019 Christmas Comp? I haven’t gotten mine in the mail yet.” Uh-oh…
Well, traditions are important, and I’m a big proponent of keeping them alive because more often than not, they mean more to people than I ever imagined. So I guess I can find some spare time during the next few days—between taking down the tree, putting away Christmas decorations, and re-shelving all my liquor after another successful New Year’s eve cocktail extravaganza—to work on the 2018 Compilation of Christmas Past. Of course the big question these days is…digital download or CD?
In the past, I’ve also used this forum to share some of my favorite Christmas songs in the lead-up to December 25. However, like my annual Christmas CD, finding time to sit down and write about holiday music never really presented itself either. I have a rough draft for a song of the day that I meant to publish on Christmas, but I never put the finishing touches on it. That happens sometimes with the more timely missives, and I’d rather be deliberate and polished vs. rushed and forced. Hopefully I’ll remember the incomplete draft amongst all my digital scraps and notes so I can finish, and post it next year.
In the meantime, since I missed the roll-up to Christmas, I’d like to spend the early days of 2019 acknowledging some of my favorite “new year” songs. First up, is “New Year’s Day,” by U2. For me, this song has always perfectly captured the quiet that seems to envelop our house, the neighborhood, and even the world, on the day that follows a raucous eve of celebrating. I’m not referring to the necessity for an achy hangover-quiet, but rather the stillness that seems to pervade the dawn of a new year where we can put the past—for better or worse—behind, and move forward with healthy resolutions, renewed efforts and revitalized hope that good things can be improved upon and bad things can be revoked. “New Year’s Day” was the first single from the band’s 1983 album, War. It was also a huge, international hit that “altered the trajectory of their career forever.” Bono has said in interviews that he actually wrote the lyrics on the spot, channeling Lech Walesa and the indomitable spirit of the Polish Solidarity movement. Nevertheless, at the beginning of each year I find myself predictably playing this song because I still find its advocation of understanding and transformation in an era of global unrest to be timeless and inspirational. Yes, all is quiet on New Year’s Day…but not for long. Happy New Year everyone. It’s January 2, 2019. Let us begin again. (Please use the comments box to share your thoughts.)