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Song Spotlight: Auld Lang Syne (special New Year's edition)

[Note: As of October 4, 2009, the Fisher album is unavailable.]

Given the nature of this blog, I think it is pretty much a given that posting will be somewhat sparse now that Christmas has come and gone. I will probably make an occasional post if I have some news to share or if I happen across a really great find, but things will definitely not be as active here as they have been for the last couple of months.

With that said, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you who have been reading this blog from the bottom of my heart. I have had a lot of fun checking on the stats for my site feed on Feedburner every day and seeing the number of subscribers increase steadily. I also feel truly humbled to know that this blog has been read by people from all over the world, and I hope that the music I have featured here has touched at least some of you as much as it has touched me. Thank you, and I hope that you will all keep your subscriptions active, as I still have a huge amount of free Christmas music that I have not yet been able to feature here, plus I am sure that 2008 will bring more treasures which I will feature as soon as I find them. I'd also love to hear more from my readers next year, so I will be encouraging interactivity a lot more than I did this year.

I would also like to invite all of you to visit a new blog that I have started, entitled Totally Free Music. My initial intention is to have it be a more general version of Free Christmas Music and feature links to free music of all types, along with my own brief reviews and opinions about the music. If you have enjoyed getting free music from this blog for Christmas and would like to continue getting free music throughout the year, I will be happy to be your guide at Totally Free Music. I hope to see you there!
All right, and now on to this blog's very last spotlight of 2007. "Auld Lang Syne" is a song that will very likely be familiar to anyone who has been through a New Year's celebration, even if you may not actually know the words to it. In fact, for years I thought of it as only "that New Year's song", having heard it in countless TV shows and movies that feature a New Year's celebration. Since I have found a few versions of it in my search for free Christmas music, I thought it would only be appropriate to feature it here.
  • An orchestral version by Frank Pido (done on a computer) can be found at the Garritan Christmas Music Player. It's track 19 on the 2004 album, which is about 3/4 of the way down the page.
  • A faster, noisier version by A Beautiful Lotus can be found on Christmasasaurus vol. 2.
  • A more traditional version with vocals can be found on Fisher's December album.
As a bonus, I'll also include the lyrics here so that you may actually be able to sing along with this song the next time you hear it. I got this set of lyrics from Wikipedia, which also features the original lyrics by Robert Burns as well as a pronounciation guide.
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne ?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
And surely I’ll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine (dinner time) ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that 2007 was a good year for you. Here's to hoping that 2008 will be even better. Happy New Year, and happy listening!



Multiple Album Spotlight: Garritan Community Christmas Album (vol. 1-4)

This was originally going to be about volumes 1 to 3, but I just checked the website and found that volume 4 is now available. So, you can check out the Garritan Christmas Music Player website and download your choice of 4 volumes of the Garritan Community Christmas Album.  With nearly 80 songs between the 4 albums, I realize that many people probably won't get a chance to listen to all of it this year, depending on when you stop listening to Christmas music. But that's okay - you can download it now and have it ready for next Christmas; in fact, I don't think I've managed to listen to all of the first 3 volumes yet, let alone the latest volume.

So, what exactly is a Garritan Community Christmas Album? Basically, each song on these albums is made by a single person on a computer making use of Garritan libraries, which contain samples of real musical instruments. All I can say is that these samples sound very authentic and have been put to great use by the artists on these albums; to my ears, these sound like real orchestral recordings (or a big band recording in the case of 2006's "Ding Dong Jazzily on High"; I'm not sure if there are other recordings that stray from the orchestral format). All in all, these albums make for a very pleasant listen and are well worth downloading.

If this sounds interesting, please head to the website and download whatever you want. Liner notes, cover artwork, and CD labels are also available to download. If you act quickly, you may also be able to get a free copy of the latest CD (for the price of postage).

As always, thanks for taking the time to read, and I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and happy listening.

URLs: http://garritan.com/Xmas.html


Album Spotlight: Beautiful and Unique Snowflakes

[Note: this album is no longer available.]

Patrol magazine has made its first annual Christmas sampler, Beautiful and Unique Snowflakes, available for free download. It consists of live recordings and B-sides (all of which were either previously released as free downloads or are unreleased live recordings) by a number of contemporary artists. Here is the complete track listing:

1. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” Coldplay
2. “O Holy Night,” Andy Zipf
3. “White Christmas,” Keane
4. “Blue Christmas,” Bright Eyes
5. “O Holy Night” (Live), The Corrs
6. “Do You Hear What I Hear?”, Plain White Ts
7. “Carol of the Bells,” Thrice
8. “If There Is A God”, (Live) Smashing Pumpkins & Radiohead
9. “Majesty Snowbird” (Live), Sufjan Stevens
10. “She Came Home for Christmas” (Live), Mew
11. “White Christmas” (Live), Coldplay
If even one of those artists and/or songs looks interesting to you, I would highly recommend heading over to Patrol's site and downloading the album. Who knows, you might discover a few future favourite artists in the process.

I hope this Christmas is shaping up to be a great one for you and those you care about. Merry Christmas, everyone!

URLs: http://www.patrolmag.com/index.php?id=172


Album Spotlight: Sarah Brown - Emmanuel

I have a beautiful album for you today. Sarah Brown's Emmanuel is a collection of traditional Christmas carols performed on piano, with Sarah's vocals ringing clearly on top of the often upbeat and lively piano arrangements. The end result is a truly uplifting collection of music, which may be very refreshing if you have found some of my recent featured albums to be a little too eclectic for your taste. Emmanuel is definitely an album for the whole family to enjoy at this time of year.

Highlights? There are a lot on this album, but if I had to narrow it down to a few I would say "What Child is This?", which is done in an arrangement I have never heard before, with a completely different vocal melody than I am used to; "Hail the King", which features percussion and soaring vocals; and "Good King Wenceslas", which is done instrumentally. The real standout for me is "Christmas Medley", a piano tour de force which winds its way through songs like "The First Noel", "I Saw Three Ships", and "Away in a Manger". The transitions between the individual sections are very well done, and at over 9 minutes in length, the medley is something that really needs to be heard to be believed.

If you end up listening to the album, I would, as always, love to know what you think about it. Also, with only 4 days left before Christmas, we're really running out of time for featuring more music here. I still have a few things I would like to post about, but if there is something you would like to see featured here - a song, an artist, anything at all - please let me know either via email or in the comments, and I will do my best to find something that matches what you are looking for. Merry Christmas, everyone!

608 South - Treeline Christmas (one more time)

[Update: These files are no longer available.]

After being informed that the files on my website had exceeded their bandwidth, I decided to find another way to share 608 South's Treeline Christmas album with anyone who wants to hear it. This time, I decided to use zSHARE, a site which offers free file hosting. Hopefully it will have more bandwidth than Google Page Creator sites. Here are the links that you can use to download the files:

  1. Caroling
  2. Come Immanuel
  3. Away in a Manger
  4. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  5. Long Expected Jesus
  6. We Three Kings
  7. All Rejoice
  8. What Child is This
  9. O Holy Night
  10. I Heard the Bells

Since this is my first time using zSHARE, I would love to know how it works out for people. Please leave a comment for any feedback you might have, whether positive or negative. And also, please let me know what you think of the music.

Merry Christmas!


Album Spotlight: Winter Wishes

I hope you have been enjoying the great variety of musical styles that have been featured so far on this blog. I feel like my musical preferences have been expanding thanks to some of the Christmas music I have been listening to lately. Over the past couple of days I have really come to appreciate an album that I originally downloaded last year but didn't really get into at the time. That album is the Silber Records compilation Winter Wishes, which I would like to feature today.

The single most striking feature about this album is the variety of musical styles found on it. From an a cappella version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (recorded via voicemail) to a cover of Prince & the Revolution's "Another Lonely Christmas", the album winds its way throught many different moods. There are beautiful renditions of "Silent Night" and "Carol of the Bells" as well as a reinterpretation of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" in "dream number nine (recurring)". The bulk of the album consists of original songs from the Silber Records roster; my favourites of these include the beautiful "Snow Angel" and "In the Snow", as well as the percussion- and synth-driven "Another Journey by Steamboat".

The best thing about such a varied album is that most people should be able to find at least a couple of songs to love on it. I have listed some of my favourites above; what are yours? I am also now interested in checking out more music from many of the artists featured on this compilation; perhaps some of them may end up being featured on my other blog throughout 2008. For now, though, please head on over to the Internet Archive and download a copy of Winter Wishes; make sure to take a look at the liner notes there for more information about the music.

Merry Christmas and happy listening!


608 South - Treeline Christmas (redux)

[Update: The 608 South website has never come back online, so I have decided to remove the files from my own site as well.]

Last week's featured album, 608 South's Treeline Christmas, is currently unavailable as the 608 South website is still down. In order to enable peple to hear this wonderful album, I have decided to take an unusual step and host the files on the Free Christmas Music website. If you are interested in listening to the album, please visit its new home on the Free Christmas Music website. If 608 South's website ever comes back, I will remove the files from my own site and redirect readers there. But for now, as far as I know this is the only place on the web where this album is available.

As always, I would love to know what anyone thinks of the album. If 608 South happens across this entry, thank you for the wonderful music, and I hope to see your website back up and running soon. Merry Christmas!


Free Album: Seriously Westcoast Vol. 2 - Happy Holidays (limited time only)

NOTE: as of December 16, 2007 at 11:59 p.m., this album is no longer available for free. I know some of you happened across this post a little late to get the download; in order to avoid missing any future time-limited offers, please subscribe to the blog's feed (also available via email) and always be amongst the first to read each post.

Hi again. I know it's only been a few hours since the last post, but this free download is only for a very limited time, so it definitely needs to be mentioned now.

Seriously Westcoast Vol. 2 - Happy Holidays is being given away for free by the Vancouver Sun this weekend. The offer started at 12:01 EST and continues for 48 hours from that time. This is a compilation of Christmas music from artists on the Nettwerk Music Group label. Here is the entire track listing:

Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
The Weepies - All That I Want
Sarah McLachlan - Silent Night
Matt Wertz - What Child Is This
Lily Frost - Skating On The River
Oh Susanna - Go Tell It On The Mountain
Medieval Baebes - The Holly & The Ivy
The Be Good Tanyas - Rudy
Barenaked Ladies - Elf's Lament
Melissa McClelland - O-Holy Night
Jars of Clay - Hibernation Day
Jenny Owen Youngs - Things We Don't Need Anymore
Martha Wainwright - Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year
Kyle Andrews - Under The Misteltoe
Leigh Nash - The First Noel
Sarah McLachlan - The First Noel (DJ Shah Remix)

Sound good? You bet! Head on over to the download site, enter your name and email address, and download away. As always, I'd love to read what you think about this in the comments.

Merry Christmas!


Album Spotlight: MiMi Loves Xmas

I have a rather unique album for you tonight. This is a Christmas album that is so far outside the realm of "normal" Christmas music that I can't even properly describe it; at the same time, I am utterly intrigued by it and have found myself unable to stop listening to this strange, beautiful music.

The album in question is called MiMi Loves Xmas. My first word upon hearing it was "whoa", and that sense of wonder continued as I listened to the rest of the album. Most of the tracks are not "songs" in the conventional sense, but rather soundscapes that nonetheless bear a vague resemblance to Christmas music. Perhaps the most recognizable song on the album is "Silent Night", which sounds as if someone took the titular Christmas carol and filtered it through Radiohead's Kid A album to deliver a rendition unlike any other. As for the rest of the album, words really fail me, so you'll have to check it out for yourself; I can guarantee you that the experience of listening to this album will be 21 minutes unlike any you've ever experienced.

If you end up liking the album, why not let me know by posting a comment, and I'll see if I can find some more music like it to spotlight here.


Album Spotlight: 608 South - Treeline Christmas

[Update: as you can see from the comments, this website went offline pretty much right after I made this post.]

Today's featured album comes to us from Buena Vista, Colorado-based 608 South, "a worship band for God's pleasure". Treeline Christmas is actually one of the more varied Christmas albums I have featured here. Vocally, it is a mixture of male, female, and children's vocals. There is occasionally some spoken narration, including a child narrating part of "Away in a Manger"; the contrast between the adult and child voices on that song is very nice. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "We Three Kings" are both instrumentals featuring some surprisingly good guitar playing; both these songs are among the highlights of the album. All the variation makes the album feel a bit like a Trans-Siberian Orchestra album, only mellower and without an overarching story. Overall, the album is fairly upbeat and is a very pleasant listen.

Go download Treeline Christmas and let me know what you think of it. Until next time, happy listening!


New Content: A-M Classical

There's not really much information on the site about what exactly A-M Classical is, but the Christmas Carols page there has a wonderful collection of, well, Christmas carols. Like the last couple of features on this blog, most of the A-M Classical songs are all very mellow and relaxing and performed on a solo instrument; with a single exception, the instrument this time around is an organ.

There is a total of 20 songs currently available from the site. Almost all of them are traditional Christmas carols, and the sound of the organ gives them a stateliness that few other instruments could match. The lone exception is a lively, ornate version of "Jingle Bells" played on piano; it is one of the highlights of this collection, and it is also different enough that I hope a collection of piano music is in this site's future. A message on the site does say that more will be uploaded throughout the Christmas season.

For the time being, though, this is a very nice collection of relaxing Christmas music. Head over to A-M Classical and check it out for yourself.


Album Spotlight: John Conahan - Rhodes Christmas

Continuing with the relaxing mood established with yesterday's featured album, today's featured album also manages to be one of the more unique Christmas albums I've ever heard. So far on this blog we have had albums consisting of solo guitar and solo piano music; John Conahan's Rhodes Christmas features nine Christmas songs performed on nothing but a Fender Rhodes piano, plus another two songs that also feature vocals. The mood throughout the entire album is very mellow and relaxed, and the sound of the Rhodes piano will help you to feel warm on even the chilliest of winter days. I listened to it whilst sipping a cup of tea as a snowstorm raged outside my office window today, and it seemed like a perfect soundtrack to what was going on.

The music on the album is a wonderful mix of old and new. There are traditional Christmas carols like "Silent Night" and "Greensleeves", modern standards like "The Christmas Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", and even a couple of Vince Guaraldi numbers from A Charlie Brown Christmas ("Christmas Time is Here" and "Skating", both of which are among the highlights of the album). The two vocal songs are covers of "When the River Meets the Sea", from the John Denver & the Muppets Christmas Album, and Joni Mitchell's "River", another highlight of the album.

Once again, if you feel like this time of year is too hectic and leaves you feeling drained of energy, take some time to chill out and throw on some relaxing music. I think that Rhodes Christmas would make a great choice for such a situation. Please let me know what you think of it.

If you like the relaxing mood of the last couple of albums, be sure to check back soon, as I'll be featuring more relaxing music this week before I move on to other types of Christmas music. As always, thanks for reading, and I sincerely hope you are enjoying the music I feature on this blog as much as I do.

Album Spotlight: Barbara Gallagher - Love Came Down at Christmas

I have some relaxing music for you tonight. Barbara Gallagher's Love Came Down at Christmas CD features beautiful solo piano performances of 12 Christmas songs. I believe that this album would sound lovely if listened to while a storm rages outside as you relax by the Christmas tree, with a cup of your favourite hot beverage in one hand, a roaring fire in the fireplace, and your loved ones next to you. There are a few upbeat songs, such as "People Look East", but for the most part the entire album is very soothing and relaxing. My favourite song is the last song, which is a beautiful medley of "Away in a Manger" and "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear".
So if you want some Christmas music that will help put you in a relaxing mood (and, let's face it, I think relaxation is something that many of us could use more of at this time of year, despite out best intentions), please give Love Came Down at Christmas a try and let me know what you think of it.
Thanks for reading, and I'll be back soon with some more music along the same lines.