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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2005-12-22

Leading Off: The Christmas Spirit … Year Round
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter
I love Christmas music. No, I mean I REALLY love Christmas music.

Ever since Apple came out with iTunes, my music listening habits have changed. In the morning when I fire up my desktop Mac, the first application I launch is iTunes. When I am working in my office, I listen to music … editing shoots, replying to all the email I get, researching projects on the web … a lot of the time what plays reflects the mood I am in.

What I listen to could be anything ranging from the Ahn Trio to (Buckwheat) Zydeco … with the Beatles, Fiona Apple, George Gershwin, Morris Day and the Time, the Red Hot Chile Peppers and Tower of Power in the middle. (Right now I am listening to Chet Baker's "Let's Get Lost" …)

But when my mood is not what it should be and I want to cheer myself up, I click on my iTunes "Christmas Songs" playlist. It doesn't matter what time of year it is or how bleak my disposition, Christmas music always brightens my day.

When I am stuck in traffic on the 405, running late for a shoot in the South Bay, I plug my iPod into my truck's stereo and scroll the click wheel to "Christmas Tunes." My panic and angst just melt away.

Music tames the savage beast? You bet.

So now that it is really Christmas time, what better way to start off our last issue of '05 than with my "Sports Shooter Christmas Tunes" playlist?

Photo by
"Jingle Bell Rock" Bobby Helms
You can find this classic on several soundtracks, most notably "Home Alone". Helms, primarily a country music artist, recorded this ditty in 1957 and it has been a Christmas must-have ever since.

"Run, Run Rudolph" Chuck Berry
There is a funny commercial parody on a NASA project that sent artifacts from our planet into space, hoping that somewhere out there other beings would find it. The kicker is a message back to earth from space that said "Send more Chuck Berry…" I know they sent "Johnny B. Goode" but this would have been cool too. You can find this in the great compilation "Chuck Berry: The Chess Box". Many other 50's greatest hits albums also have this tune.

"Little St. Nick" The Beach Boys
The trademark harmonies are there and you can almost see the waves crashing at sunset on Hermosa Beach and the Wilson Brothers around a fire singing this funny, sweet little number.

"Sleigh Ride" The Ventures
I guess I'm showing my Southern California bias here, but if I have The Beach Boys I gotta include this instrumental cut that opens The Venture's Christmas album.

"Blue Christmas" Elvis Presley
This was a tough call because I love the Leon Redbone version of "Blue Christmas". I could go with Elvis' "Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me" or his rendition of "Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)" … but I had to go with THE classic.

Photo by
"Santa Baby" Eartha Kitt
It seems sex singers all have to record this ditty. Marilyn Monroe recorded it. As did Madonna, Faith Evans and Holly Cole.

"Let It Snow" Diana Krall
From her new Holiday record, Diana Krall turns in a very nice up-temp version of this classic song backed by the Clayton Hamilton Orchestra.

"My Favorite Things" Tony Bennett
And since we're in the Big Band mode, Tony Bennett's swinging version of "My Favorite Things" fits in perfectly here. A tight orchestra arrangement and a cool vibraphone solo you can close your eyes and see Tony belting this out in Rockefeller Plaza with the snow falling all around him…

"Jingle Bells" Frank Sinatra
My daughter Emma loves this song … especially the chorus singing: "I love those J-I-N-G-L-E bells OH!"

"Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" Manhattan Transfer
I've always loved Manhattan Transfer. Tim Hauser's solo in the middle and Janis Seigel cracking up at the end just makes this sound like they're having fun.

"Let It Snow, Let It Snow" Aaron Neville
Man, I can listen to Aaron Neville all day … and this cut from the "Soulful Christmas" is great to listen to no matter what the date on the calendar.

"Honky Tonk Christmas" Alan Jackson
All right, all right … I'll admit that I do like some country music. Some country music. I guess covering the Country Music Awards a couple of times with my buddy Bob Deutsch gave me a little appreciation for pickin' and twang. A little more rock-a-billy than straight country "Honky Tonk Christmas" is classic Alan Jackson … just enough country for the boots and Stetson crowd but mainstream enough for the likes of me.

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" John Mellencamp
There have probably been a million versions of "I Saw Mommy.." recorded in history. From the God-awful (Jackson 5 and Beach Boys) to pretty good (The Ronettes , Dion and an instrumental version by Joe Sample). But John Mellencamp's playful singing and the folksy arrangement was one of the highlights of the first "A Very Special Christmas" collections.

Photo by
"Rockin' On Top of the World" Steven Tyler
One of the highlights of last year's animated "Polar Express" was a 20 second scene at the end of the movie with the Aerosmith front man belting out this rocker.

"2000 Miles (It Must Be Christmas Times)" Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders
Guitars, Chrissie Hynde singing and this great lyric:

He's gone 2000 miles
It's very far
The snow is falling down
Gets colder day by day
I miss you

I can hear people singing
It must be christmastime
I hear people singing
It must be Christmastime


What a great song to close the Pretenders' best album … 'Nuff said!

"I'll Be Home For Christmas" Carly Simon
If I didn't have a Carly Simon song on the list my wife Deanna would probably lock me out of the house! Actually this version of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" is simple, sweet and tender, just Carly singing with an acoustic guitar for accompaniment.

"The Christmas Song" Nat and Natalie Cole
Through the art of studio technology, father and daughter sing THE classic Holiday song. I know … I am a sentimental softy at heart.

"So This Is Christmas (War Is Over)" John Lennon & Yoko Ono
More of a plea for world peace than a Christmas song … produced by Phil Spector and released in late 1971, it is still one of the most played Christmas songs during the Holiday season. The song begins with John and Yoko whispering "Happy Christmas…" to their children and ends with the children singing the chorus.

I know I've left a lot of great Holiday songs off of my "Sports Shooter Christmas" playlist. It was tough leaving out Randy Travis' version of "Jingle Bell Rock" (I wanted to limit the list to only one version of a particular tune), Elvis' heart-tugging "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town".

I wanted to include as many different styles as I could and I am sure many of you will find my tastes a little conservative. And you won't find the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Jessica Simpson or trash/potty-mouth songs on this list.

I was also tempted to include Cheech & Chong's funny but touching "Santa Claus and his Old Lady" but decided to include only music.

That's the fun part of this, putting together a list of the music I love to listen to that helps keep my spirits up when I am not really feeling that Holiday Spirit.

So turn up the volume and Happy Holidays!

* * *

Our end of the year edition of the Sports Shooter Newsletter features a users report by Dan MacMedan on Canon's new 5D digital camera. Chip Litherland recounts the emotional and technical difficulties covering the Carlie Brucia murder trial.

Reed Hoffmann checks in with his digital New Year's resolutions. Trent Nelson gives us a peek into the trunk of his car in our regular "In The Bag" feature.

We all know that the sidelines at football games are getting out of hand and what's going on at Oakland Raiders games is the subject of Gregg Trott's first article for Sports Shooter. And Rhona Wise writes about when a news story hits close to home … too close … and who you balance your job as a journalist with being a victim.


Acknowledgements
As always, thanks to Special Advisors & Contributors: Deanna & Emma Hanashiro, Brad Mangin, Rick Rickman, Rod Mar, Vincent Laforet, Trent Nelson, Jason Burfield, Grover Sanschagrin, Joe Gosen, The Photodude, Reed Hoffmann, Anne Ryan and Bob Deutsch.

Thanks this month to: Dan MacMedan, Chip Litherland, Greg Trott and Rhona Wise.

I welcome any comments, corrections, suggestions and contributions. Please e-mail me at bert@sportsshooter.com.

The Sports Shooter Archives as well as tons of cool resources and information can be accessed through the Internet at http://www.SportsShooter.com.

Use of the content of the Sports Shooter Newsletter is prohibited without the expressed written permission of The Big Kahuna and the author of the article.

Opinions, rants, raves, insults and praise whether intend or not, are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sports Shooter and public sensibilities.
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