Holiday treasures Christmas JUST A SONG BEFORE I GO




This is the end, beautiful friends.  For all intents and purposes, this will be my final post, here.  As I’ve mentioned before, the domain has been renewed, in case there’s something you want to go back to, but I’ve always intended to step away by October 26.  I might post an update to Not The List, at some point.  And, who knows, I might even do one of our annual Stubby’s House mixes a few days before Christmas, but otherwise…

So I’ve chosen to close out on a single, since singles are one of those things we attempted to cover and since it allows me some focus.

Christmas singles come in a multitude of flavors.  There’s the Holly Jolly joyful Christmas single, that’s all toys and Santa and celebration.  There are the singles that use the holiday as a vehicle for discussing love and relationships.  There are singles of nostalgia and singles that look forward with hope.  There are religious singles and secular singles.  And then there are singles like “The Little Things” by Athena Sorensen and The Merry Shout that appeal to our better angels.  “The Little Things” officially releases on November 8 on Mosaic Rain Recordings.

Athena Sorensen, usually billed as just Athena, is a Contemporary Christian artist, currently based in California.  Some years ago, she suffered from an auto-immune disease and the healing process brought her closer to God.  Her voice is the epitome of beauty mixed with power.  Athena spent several years in Hawaii and, if you’re listening, you can hear some of that influence in her vocals (the way speech professionals can pick up on all the places you’ve lived in your life, even if you think yourself accent free).  And she’s been singing long enough to have put out several Christmas albums, including “Jesus Is The Meaning” and “Christmas Around The World” (the latter of which is a name-your-price download at Bandcamp, though all proceeds go to help feed the hungry…so consider tossing a few coins in the pot, please).

​Musically, “The Little Things” takes me right back to my early 70s AC/Soft Rock days when I’d wake up to “Joy” by Isaac Hayes or “Walking In The Georgia Rain” by Sonny Geraci & Climax or anything by David Gates & Bread on WRLB.  And, like those days, the song starts soft and warm and builds, aided well by the performance and arrangement of The Merry Shout, who start off as background singers and finish as a heavenly choir (without ever going over the top to full on Edwin Hawkins territory).  Yes, the song builds, but never loses it’s warmth.  It’s like a Christmas morning that reaches that moment of peak wonder and joy and then…just stays there.


But it’s the philosophy of “The Little Things” that makes me choose it as my swan song.  If you’ve been on this Earth as long as I have, you’ve pondered the eternal question of why we are here in the first place.  And it doesn’t matter what you study or where you search to find the answer.  All of the world’s religions and all of history’s great philosophers have reached the same conclusion.  They may phrase it differently, but the answer is always the same, in essence.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.  “If you want a better world, be a better person”.  “Do the right thing”.  It’s all the same answer.

​My favorite iteration of the principle comes from the television show Angel.  For those who know their television (and their vampires), Angel was a vampire with a soul…fighting evil for redemption in the hopes of one day winning the right to be made human again.  In the Season 2 episode “Epiphany”, Angel realizes that he can never defeat evil, for there is always new evil to take its place.  And he realizes that fighting for the reward of redemption is kinda missing the point of it all.  It’s actually selfish.  Redemption isn’t earned through grand gestures, but from the little things…the things we do without thoughts of reward.  “If nothing we do matters,” he says, “then all that matters is what we do.  ‘Cause that’s all there is.  What we do now. Today.  The smallest act of kindness is the greatest thing in the world.”

Let me leave you with one more example of what we’re talking about, here.  (As the man at the soup kitchen says to Captain Kirk in “City On The Edge of Forever”, “You expect to eat for free or something?”).  Once upon a time, I had a very good friend.  He passed away not long ago.  But he was the one who taught me this principle in theory and in practice.  When we’d be hanging out and it became necessary to, I dunno, just go to the store or pick up a pizza or something, he’d physically gird himself.  Hey, we’re just going to the store.  Why all the prep work?  Because it was important to him that he left anyone he interacted with with at least a smile.  It was important to him that he made the life of anyone he encountered just a tiny bit better, even if only for a second.  It was, he felt, the reason for his existence.  And he always doubted he’d be up to the task.  But he always was.  (Miss you, Mike.  Thanks for all the little things.). 

So, yeah, it’s been fun talking about Christmas music with you for all these years.  But, among many, one reason I found myself so drawn to Christmas music in the first place is because it seems to be the one time of year when the message is able to reach us.  The true meaning of life.  “It’s not how big a gift you bring/It’s all about the little things”.  It’s even more important in these times, when so much of our interaction with others is “virtual” and with people as divided as they seem to be.  Know this: everyone out there is just like you…alone, if you want to boil it down to the basics.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  We have each other.  Or we could have, if you’ll just see the world that way.  You can change the world, make it better.  It’s not as hard as you think.  It’s the little things.  “Step out your warm house/Help someone without”.  And, if you can carry that spirit one day out of the year, couldn’t you at least try to do so every day?  I have faith in you all.  I believe you can.

“The Little Things” from Athena Sorensen and The Merry Shout drops November 8.  You’ll find it on Amazon, iTunes, GooglePlay and wherever fine digital downloads are sold.

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