Friday, February 01, 2008

De 20 mest önskade julsångera (EMI-Sweden)

Of all the CDs I received as Christmas presents last year, the one you see here is the most special for many different reasons.

My friend Scott McMeen was travelling on business through Sweden shortly before Christmas last year. While shopping at a Swedish version of Target, he discovered this CD and thought it would fit in perfectly with my Christmas music collection.

Scott's family and I have been close since my first encounter with First Presbyterian Theater nearly four years ago. His wife Deb was one of my first co-stars in 2004 and took me under her wing immediately. Deb and I played two at-odds married Cub fans in the play "Bleacher Bums":

Then in 2006, I decided to act again in a play and discovered Deb and I were co-stars again. I played an Italian tenor (think Pavarotti) while she played a rich dowager (think Margaret Dumont) in the play "Lend Me A Tenor":

Scott and Deb's daughters (Courtney and Kelly) have babysat my children, helped me out at the theater as stage managers and light board operators, and even travelled with me last year to the Chicago version of "The Fest For Beatles' Fans".

In late 2006, Deb was diagnosed with leukemia and began chemotherapy. With her endless optimism, we all knew it was a matter of time before Deb would be released and auditioning for another play.

However, the playwright in the sky had other ideas and we lost Deb on March 19, 2007. At the funeral, I was named an honorary pallbearer and was the last speaker at her memorial service. I asked the assembled congregation to give my fellow co-star one final standing ovation with shouts of "bravo" - a fitting sendoff to a fellow thespian.

"De 20 mest önskade julsångera" is yet another addition to the growing number of Swedish Christmas songs in my collection. Some of these Christmas songs have come from Anna-Lena Lodenius' amazing comps, others have come from new album finds from the vinyl bins, and now this.

Sung in Swedish by well established Swedish artists (Ingmar Wixell, Ung Ton, Rolf Björling), many of these beautiful Christmas melodies take on a whole new life. "Nu så kommer julen", "En dörr på glänt", "Tomtarnas vaktparad" and especially "Sjömansjul på Hawaii" (a Swedish Christmas song about Hawaii?) are extremely catchy and the tunes will rattle around in your head after hearing them.

The standout tracks are "O, helga natt", "Bjällerklang", or "Stilla natt". To hear "O Holy Night", "Jingle Bells", and "Silent Night" in Swedish is priceless. It's amazing how much more wonderful these songs sound when sung in a foreign language.

EMI issued this compilation and it's available through their Swedish website (look at the top row middle to find this one).

Tack så mycket for the CD Scott! Looking forward to some of that award-winning guacamole at your Super Bowl party this weekend!


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