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Hello everyone! Well, I guess 2012 was not my year for blogging. I had so many things going on at once that it quickly became impossible to post here. I make no guarantees about this year, but I'll certainly make an attempt to get some more content up here - it will all depend on what I find and how much time I have to write about it.
I've actually already started downloading some Christmas music this year, but I haven't listened to any of it yet. A couple of months ago I discovered that my local library subscribes to Freegal, which lets me download up to 3 songs a week from what seems to be a very extensive catalogue - "thousands of artists, tens of thousands of albums, and millions of songs," according to the site's FAQ. After spending the first 6 weeks downloading a couple of Patti Smith albums I didn't have on CD, I decided to start looking for Christmas music on the site, thinking that it would be best to start soon since there are now only 13 weeks left before Christmas. Since that gives me the chance to download 39 songs, I should be able to snag at least a few nice albums in time for Christmas.
The first Christmas album I started downloading from the service is Shawn Colvin's Holiday Songs and Lullabies, which has been on my wishlist for years, ever since I heard her version of "Love Came Down at Christmas" on a bootleg I downloaded. A couple of other albums I'm planning to download are Jimi Hendrix's Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (which only has 3 songs, so I can grab them all at once) and Martina McBride's White Christmas. I've actually had the latter album for a number of years now and it's one of my all-time favourites, but my copy is the original release with 10 songs on it; over the years I've seen it reissued a couple of times with more and more songs each time - my plan is to download the 6 songs that I don't have and combine them with the ones I do have to cobble together my own version of the latest version of the album.
I don't know how useful this post will be to most of you, as I really have no idea of how widespread the Freegal service is. Hopefully at least some of you have access to it - check with your local library to make sure. I have actually been hoping that we could do some crowdsourcing here - if anyone is aware of any good Christmas music on the site, please leave a comment about it here or send me an email, and maybe we can compile a list of the best Christmas music available on Freegal while there's still time to download at least some of it in time for this Christmas.
The Brantley Family Band have returned with their ninth annual Christmas album. This year it's just a one song single ("Jingle Bells"), but with good reason - their twin boys Bo and Sam were born on October 11, so they have understandably had their hands a bit full this year. Amazingly, though, Bo and Sam actually play a small but very cute part in the song, which continues the band's tradition of being a diverse and eclectic take on an otherwise familiar song.
You can download "Jingle Bells" and all the rest of their songs at the Brantley Family Band website. If this is your first time hearing about the Brantley Family Band, you can also read what I wrote about them in past years: when I first discovered them, their 2010 album, and their 2011 album.
Finally, if the band happens to read this, let me take this opportunity to say congratulations, Merry Christmas, and thanks once again for all the great music!
Longtime readers of this blog will likely know by now that one of my favourite downloads each year is Sofia Talvik's annual Christmas song. Every year since 2007 (the year this blog was started, coincidentally, although I didn't discover her first Christmas song until my second year), she has released an original, heartfelt, bittersweet, and thought provoking Christmas song. This year's song, "One Last Wish for Christmas" is "a story about love, loss, and afterthought at Christmas." It is heartbreakingly beautiful, and like many of her songs, it stays with me long after I've finished listening to it.
You can download the song using the little widget at the bottom of this post. If, for some reason, that doesn't work, you can get it directly from her website.
Sofia also has a Christmas calendar in the form of an email list, If you sign up for the list, you'll get a daily email with a little gift in it - for example, the first gift was actually this song, and today's gift is a video showing how to make a really neat looking gingerbread house, complete with a printable template. If that sounds like the kind of thing you'd be into, sign up now to get the rest of the gifts delivered straight to your inbox.