Newsletter
From John Farrell
December 2004
Seasons Greetings Friends,

Thanksgiving Day Has Come and Gone

I hope you and your family had a peaceful and healthy Thanksgiving. We had a relatively quiet feast at our house. Since Ann Marie and I are both from large families we often have Thanksgiving at someone else’s house, but my 92 year old mom lives with us and she is finding it very difficult to get out so we decided to celebrate at home this year. Mom’s caregiver Gladys, an angel from Ghana by way of the Bronx, also lives with us. Katie was home from college. My sister Joan and her family, and our new, next door neighbor all joined us so we had a houseful for dinner. Ann Marie prepared a delicious turkey dinner and everyone helped in some way. We had lots to eat, good conversation, some singing and card playing, a late night game of charades, and a short, chilly walk under a nearly full moon. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all and this was a reflective, joyous and relaxing one. And now the season of light begins.

What’s New?: Release of NEW Christmas CD Concludes Nearly Ten Year Project

My new Christmas CD “Season of Light, Hope and Peace” is being manufactured as I write and will be ready to ship by December 1. I began writing Christmas songs in 1994 and each year I write one or two new ones. When I had enough to do an album we began to record some of the songs. One problem I had getting the CD done was that I would only get in the mood to work on Christmas songs during the holiday season. Another challenge was that the list would change as I decided to add or remove certain songs. The result was that each year we would work on a new song or two but didn’t have everything we wanted until now. By 2001 we had recorded eight songs and decided to produce a limited number of CD’s for family and friends knowing that more songs would be added in the future. We ended up reprinting a couple of these small runs and at times our kitchen table became the assembly line as we cut out and inserted lyrics and artwork and put CD’s together. While those times were memorable we’re all delighted with the new lyrics and artwork and won’t miss the assembly phase too much. The splendid watercolor painting on the new cover was done by artist friend Gini Frank Fischer. It is our house at Christmas time. My Dad who passed away in 1994 loved to decorate the house and we have carried on the tradition.

The recordings on the new CD include the original eight songs remixed plus five new ones. Working with dear friends Jeff Miller and Jon Bates the recordings have been compiled into a collection that flows together smoothly. Jeff and Jon are amazing musicians and engineers, and most importantly, great friends.

Each year as the earth slips into darkness again we come together as friends, family, and faith communities to look for the light within ourselves and each other, and to await the birth of a child. We also come together to sing, give thanks, and hope and pray for peace on earth. Thank you for making music a part of your celebration. If you’d like to hear some of the songs on the new CD please go to www.johnfarrell.net

Listed below are the contents of the album and brief descriptions of the songs.

SEASON OF LIGHT, HOPE AND PEACE

1. It’s Snowing!
A song about the first snowflakes and the beginning of the holiday season. It’s also a wish that it will keep snowing long enough for school to be canceled. Includes a verse and chorus of “Jingle Bells.”

2. One by One
A Thanksgiving song that recounts some of our many blessings. I include
simple sign language when I do the song in concert. Signs are on the website www.johnfarrell.net

3. Hot Chocolate and Diplomacy
Each year we go to “Sam’s Tree Farm,” where we cut down our Christmas tree. While we’re there we critique, debate, cajole, argue, complain and coerce before we eventually arrive at the decision. In the end, hot chocolate and a contorted democracy carry the day, and of course, the tree always looks fine once it’s home and decorated.

4. It’s the Christmas Play
Inspired in part by the book “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” and in part by the many school programs I’ve attended through the years. The song imagines some of the many things that can and do go wrong during the holiday show. Ends with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

5. Dear Santa
Three letters from children asking Santa, “How do you do it?” including questions about How do you get to every house? How do you make all the toys? Where do you live? Etc. Each of Santa’s replies ends with the line “I can do it because you love me, and because you believe I can.” The kids’ voices on this one are exquisite! (Please forgive the bragging, they’re our kids)

6. Let’s Go Caroling
Singing about singing, this medley includes “Deck the Halls,” “Away in a Manger,” and “There Was a Little Baby.”

7. A Little Bit of Scrooge
One of our Christmas traditions is a trip to New York City to see the decorations and visits the sights. We have gone to see the musical version of “A Christmas Carol,” two times. After last years show I wrote this song acknowledging that along with the season of joy there are plenty of reasons to be “grumpy and annoyed.” Lyric includes “We buy too much, we want too much, we eat too much too. We throw stuff away just because it isn’t new…” In the end its Ebenezer’s decision to give it away that redeems him.

8. Christmas is Coming
We’ve sung this at several church celebrations. As I wrote the song I was thinking about how Christmas comes in so many different ways to people in so many different situations. The song contrasts a small village with the bustling city; the family in the mansion on the hill with a family of eight in a third floor apartment; and a lonely old man singing carols in a nursing home with a new mother singing “Silent Night,” to her infant child. To all of them “Christmas is coming, turning darkness to light...”

9. I Should Close My Eyes
I vividly remember how hard it was to get to sleep on Christmas Eve and all the sounds I heard in and outside the house. This is that remembrance which drifts off into a dreamlike musical journey.

10. Gotta Get Going
“Each year things get hectic as the seasons roll around. Days fly by like shooting starts, leaves fall to the ground. Weeks just seem to disappear like snowmen in the sun…” You think you’re busy, imagine Santa and his helpers on Christmas Eve. The band really lets go on this one as Jon, Jeff, and Dana boogie like the jolly old elf and friends. Makes you want get up and dance.

11. Birthday of a Child
“When you wake up Christmas morning filled with love and hopes so high, remember what we celebrate is the birthday of a child…”

12. Christmas in the Trenches
For years I have listened to, been moved by, and sung John McCutcheon’s gorgeous song about an impromptu Christmas Eve truce that really happened during WWI. Unfortunately, the song is as relevant and timely today as it was when the truce occurred. I say unfortunately because we still haven’t learned that “on each end of a rifle we’re the same.” This song may seem a bit out of place in that I didn’t write it and it’s not about children at Christmas, but it’s been a part of our holiday season for years and needs to be heard by as many listeners as possible. Many of you may know the song heard it.but perhaps it will be a gift to some. It certainly was a gift to me the first time I

12. Season of Light
This simple “round” reminds me what the season is about, particularly the line “Waiting for the child to welcome us home.” The need to reconnect with a sense of wonder about the natural world combined with the faith, hope, trust, and longing for peace and love that children experience during the holidays is something the world can’t get too much of, especially now.


THANK YOU OFFER on NEW CD! 3 CD’S FOR $30 INCLUDES SHIPPING

To thank those of you who have so kindly shared my music with your friends and family we are offering you the chance to purchase 3 copies of the new CD for just $30. This price includes shipping and handling. Mary Jain sends orders out immediately and she ships everything first class mail so you will receive CD’s soon after you place your order. If using the mail-in order form WRITE THANK YOU OFFER 3 FOR $30 on the order form and send just $30 for the 3 CD’s. If you would like more than 3 CD’s calculate the price at $10 each. That will also include shipping and handling. We’re hoping to be able to do the 3 for $30 offer for credit card orders too.

BRONX ZOO HOLIDAY LIGHTS PERFORMANCES

On the evenings of December 3, 4, and 5, I will be performing at the Bronx Zoo’s Holiday Lights event. My shows will be at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 at the Zoo Center. The Holiday Lights are spectacular and events include a play version of The Polar Express as well as storytelling, live reindeer and camels, thousands of lights and much more. For information and directions visit
http://bronxzoo.com/426208/5266141

HOLIDAY CONCERTS TO BENEFIT HANAHOE CLINIC will be at DANBURY HOSPITAL

December 11 I will be doing two concerts to benefit the Hanahoe Children’s Clinic. The concerts will be at Danbury Hospital at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. For reservations, more information, and directions go to http://www.johnfarrell.net/04-Hanahoe.htm or call Mary Jain at 1-800-928-4007

TOLL FREE NUMBER AND ONLINE CREDIT CARD ORDERING

You can now reach Mary Jain at a toll-free number to discuss bookings, order CD’s, or just chat. That number is 1-800-928-4007. You can also now use credit cards to place orders online. I have been slow in setting this up but I have been persuaded that this is a convenience that will helpful and appreciated.

HOLIDAY WISHES

On behalf of Mary Jain Dayger, Ann Marie, and our family I wish you and your loved ones a holiday season filled with love, good health and joy. We also wish that 2005 will be a year in which more people will act and pray for greater compassion, forgiveness, love, justice and peace for all of God’s creatures everywhere, not just for ourselves. We live in a time of great bounty in our country but a time of even greater need around the world. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with us.

Keep a song in your heart!

With love and thanks,
John

P.S. I’m going to begin sending a monthly newsletter. I will try to be brief, but as you know brevity isn’t a strength of mine when it comes to writing. If this newsletter is unwanted and an annoyance to you, please send us an email with the word “UNSUBSCRIBE” in the subject line. Send the email to
[email protected] and Mary Jain will remove your address from the list. My apologies if you have received it in error.

John Farrell
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