Recap: I was challenged by one of my friends in EMU Choir to participate in one of those “14 Songs in 14 Days” kind of things, where you list or discuss 14 pieces of music that have had a profound impact on your life! Seeing as to how I have an abundance of time on my hands that I’m using only semi-usefully to this point in the quarantine/ isolation, I figured why not step up my game a bit and use this challenge as the theme of a blog post series. For the entire series, click here.
Today’s song will bring to an end the posts about songs from my early childhood that had a profound impact on my life, as tomorrow I’ll start to transition to a little bit of the “in-between-times” (I’m thinking specifically of this as the middle/high school age range). But before we move into the “not-quite-a-child” and “nowhere-near-an-adult” times, let’s celebrate one more song that brought me (and my sister, and perhaps an entire generation of kiddos in the early 1990s!) unabashed joy…so much so that my family entertained our seemingly insane requests to tape it from the radio, local Martin radio station WCMT 101.3 FM.
That song, of course, would be the first hit off Mannheim Steamroller’s 1984 (!—how did we not learn about them, at least in Martin, until the early ’90s?!?!) 6x platinum album Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, “Deck the Halls.”
Just go ahead and let that YouTube video start rolling. I’ll wait.
I simply cannot adequately express the SHEER THRILL of hearing that song on the radio for the first time.
“You mean…Christmas songs… can sound fun? Funky? Synthesizers?!
Nevermind I had no idea what a synthesizer was at age, like, 5. That’s beside the point. I was in awe. We really did wait for it to come on the radio and then recorded it to cassette tape, like people did in the days when the Internet was still in its super infancy and if they didn’t sell things at Walmart or in a catalog, we likely didn’t know about it in Martin, TN. I still sometimes think that the end of this particular track is supposed to be followed by the radio interlude music (or maybe it was an ad or a station identification?) that came on right after “Deck the Halls” on our recorded cassette. Because, naturally, we just kept recording the radio station until the cassette ran out of tape! I still remember the song where it ended (and then we started anew on the “B” side of the tape)… good ol’ Johnny Mathis’s “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Before Pandora became a thing, I don’t think I’d ever heard the entire version of his song before… the tape side ended right around the 1:35 mark, during the brass interlude!
Eventually, of course, my family went on to purchase all (I think?) of the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas albums as they were released, even switching at some point to CD! We listened to those albums in the car (see the Day 2 post for more on just how long those car rides were!) every Christmas season so much, I’m amazed they never broke. These albums stayed with us year after year, holiday drive after holiday drive, right up until I went to college and met Karen, who—also being the same age and having a musically responsible family—ALSO loved and owned ALL the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas albums (and her mom still has a lot of their non-Christmas, classical albums, which I never knew were a thing until Karen and I met!) It is now our tradition to start listening to the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas albums, in chronological order of their release, every year on our drive home from Thanksgiving, which is the appropriate time for Christmas music to begin (fight me on it…) This song just sticks with you—for life!
Oh, and in case you thought we were done here…. Oh…no, no. I JUST FOUND OUT TONIGHT while searching for a YouTube video of the audio (for ease of sharing the audio recording with you) that Mannheim Steamroller made music videos in the ’80s and it’s either the greatest thing I ever seen (well, okay at least since binge watching all of Stranger Things earlier this year—can you tell I’m on a bigtime ’80s kick right now?) or incredibly scary for small children. I’ll leave it up to you to decide!
TTFN! Can’t wait to see what craziness we find ourselves in tomorrow!