Wednesday, December 05, 2018
Mary Mayo--The Magic of Christmas (1956)
Mary Mayo's voice is lovely, and the LP gives us "completely new" songs by Fay Tishman (lyrics) and Marjorie Goetschius (music). The songs are described as the duo's "creative reaction" to "the string of silly and meretricious Christmas songs which have dominated seasonal music for the past several years," and certainly titles like No Room at the Inn and Mary's Lullaby suggest a daring new approach to holiday songwriting, one completely free from cliche. Just take the lyrical genius of The Christmas Bells Are Ringing: "The Christmas bells are ringing, The world tonight is singing."
From the notes: "The title of this album collection comes from the essential idea in the work of Mrs. Tishman and Miss Goetschius (the wife of musician Emery Deutsch). What they wished to express in their songs were all the varied aspects of 'THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS.'" I'm impressed. Too few songwriters even make an attempt to express the varied aspects of the magic of Christmas. Also from the notes: "NO ROOM AT THE INN tells dramatically of the denial of comfort to the Virgin Mary and the humble circumstances of the barn that sheltered the birth of the Blessed Babe." Really? It's not about botched Holiday Inn reservations? Oh, right--Christmas. Got it.
"The Star in the East led The Three Wise men to the little cradle in Bethlehem." If these songs don't get better, in a little while, I'm gonna pitch this LP in the circular file. No, just kidding.
So maybe the songs are pap. Maybe they're not completely worthy of Mary's talent, but that's no reason for me to be a Scrooge about it. Surely, the cover is charming enough to warm even the coldest heart. I especially like the cluttered left side, with the little girl blocked by the presents, the yellow lettering, and the fake tree branch. The barely readable titles over the chintzy, pipe-cleaner tree makes for a nice touch, too, and the tinsel is so creatively arranged. There's Mary in the middle, her face turned away so we can't see it, and that's cool, because personally I don't like seeing the singer's face--it takes a little mystery out of the experience. And I love the way the cover is less about Mary than the back of the guy's jacket. Another plus: the songs are short.
Click here to hear: Mary Mayo w. LeRoy Holmes--The Magic of Christmas, 1956
A King Without a Crown
No Room At the Inn
The Lonely Shepherd
I Bow My Head
Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men
The Christmas Bells Are Ringing
The Star in the East
The Magic of Christmas
Each Christmas Remember
God Bless You, Little Children
The Angels Lit the Candles
The Magic of Chrismtas --Mary Mayo w. Orch. and Chorus conducted by LeRoy Holmes (MGM E3452, 1956)