Just Stay With Me…

It’s a gray day here in the Boston area.

Rain is forecast for Christmas Day, which will probably melt the snow that fell last week.

Lot of folks are curtailing their holiday plans and modifying — or outright cancelling — long-standing family traditions in response to the fact that hospitals around the USA are again overloaded with Covid-19 cases.

And the infection numbers just keep rising…partly due to all the traveling that folks did a few weeks ago during Thanksgiving.

And the refrigerated trailer trucks parked outside of hospitals continue to fill up with the bodies of folks who have died — with no friends or family members at their side — as a result of this public health tragedy.

This is sad on so many levels.

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

Even in the best of years, winter holidays can be a very difficult time for some of us.

I read a couple of blog posts by my fellow bloggers this morning while I was avoiding other tasks on my “to do” list.

Clare from North Suffolk in England shared a bit about the challenges her family is facing this year, especially those who already experience high levels of anxiety about life here on planet earth.

She writes: “The damage all this isolation and lock-down is doing to so many people, physically, mentally and financially is unimaginably great…”

Another deep breath in.

And deep breath out.

Clare’s blog post reminded me of this song, written by John Meyer (in the audio player above).

I do not remember when I first heard “After The Holidays.”

Judy Garland performed it on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1968 — and many copies of that performance can be found on YouTube.

I am guessing that it was included on some sort of Judy Garland compilation CD — released long after her death in 1969 — which I ended up listening to…

Here is Judy in 1963, photographed by Richard Avedon.

The man who wrote the song, John Meyer, had an intense, three-month-long relationship with Judy when he was starting his career as a writer.

He chronicles it in a very vivid book he wrote called Heartbreaker.

I think his relationship with Judy ended when she got serious about another man, Mickey Deans.

Here she is with Mickey in London during their wedding on March 15, 1969.

Judy was living with Mickey in London when she died on June 22, 1969.

It is my understanding, after reading many books about Judy Garland, that she often did not like to be left alone.

Mel Torme — a wonderful singer who also co-wrote “The Christmas Song” — wrote a book about his time working on Judy’s TV series.

In it he talks about becoming a member of “The Dawn Patrol” — a select group of staff members who would take turns spending the night with Judy and reassuring her that her show was going well.

Loneliness is certainly something that most of us have experienced at one time or another.

And loneliness during the holidays can be particularly excruciating.

By a sweet coincidence, while I was avoiding things on my “to do” list, I also found a video on YouTube about two dogs, Taco (a chihuahua) and Merrill (a pit bull mix), who were dropped off at a shelter together and did NOT want to be seperated.

In hopes of finding someone who would be willing to adopt both of them, the people who worked at their shelter started sharing posts via social media about their special bond.

They ended up being adopted by a family who started a Facebook page about them, because so many other people wanted to know what had happened to them.

Hurrah for this one, small, canine happy ending!

I also would like for this blog post to have a happy musical ending.

So I am including links to several songs which pianist Doug Hammer and I have released this month to various musical platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music.

You can click here to listen to our version of “We Need A Little Christmas.”

You can click here to listen to our version of “Winter Wonderland.” 

You can click here to listen to our version of “The Christmas Song.”

You can click here to listen to our version of “Silver Bells” (which was featured in a recent blog post).

And you can click here to listen to our version of “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.”

Thank you to Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons for the images in this blog post.

Thank you to Doug Hammer for his gifts as a pianist as well as a recording engineer.

Thank you to John Meyer for his beautiful song and to Judy Garland for being the first person to breath life into it.

And thank you to YOU for reading and listening to another one of my blog posts!

May your holiday season be filled with comforting music and light.

39 thoughts on “Just Stay With Me…

  1. Will, you have written a marvelous, sentimental post with beautiful words, songs, and images without teetering into the maudlin. That is very hard to do. Thanks for this gift this morning. Happy holidays and to a much better 2021. Pat

    • You are very welcome! Perhaps it was related to last night being the winter solstice (as well as a friend who suddenly needed to have heart bypass surgery yesterday afternoon), but I was feeling very aware of the dark side of our winter holidays… And the song “After The Holidays” is like a mini-opera — full of emotion. A peaceful, delicious holiday season to you… and may 2021 bring more tender (and fewer explosive) emotions back into our lives!

  2. A lovely, poignant song, Will, thank you.
    This is a very strange and sad holiday season in a very strange and sad year. But thank you for sharing that happy canine story and happy holiday songs.
    Wishing you and yours a happy holiday and a brighter new year.

    • Yes. I wanted to acknowledge some of our sad, scary feelings but not remain stuck in that emotional territory… The days are now officially getter longer (at least in the northern hemisphere, right?) as the light returns again! A creative and delicious and restful and inspiring holiday season to you!

    • Thank you, Brad! You are wise and kind to remind me to relax, play, and refresh my body and soul. I DID play frisbee with my sweetheart last week before our last snow storm turned everything a bit slippery (now slushy…) And I am not leading Music Together classes for the next three weeks; so that is a bit of a break. Maybe I need to get out into the woods for a long walk or two (which would be a bit different than walking around my neighborhood full of cars and trucks and snow blowers and tree chippers and utility vehicles, etc.) I HAVE discovered a cemetery about a mile from my home which is much larger than it appears to be from the road. And it turns out to have a stream (which is buried for much of its transit through our town) along one edge AND a tiny wetlands which feeds into a nearby lake (although there is a road running around the lake; so one starts seeing and hearing cars again on that edge of the cemetery…) I haven’t walked over there since our most recent snow fall. So I will add that to my holiday “to do” list. May you, too, pause and relax and play in the days/weeks ahead! P.S. Am I remembering that you started a new job not too long ago? How is that going?

      • Thanks Will. I’m glad my suggestions might stir you to rest and play. Please no “to do” lists! 😃 The cemetery sounds like a nice and quirky city oasis. The new job was a fail, but I found another as a courier that is working so far. Peace and hugs to you and yours.

  3. Such a thoughtful post, Will. I am still reeling from my doctor dying of Covid-19 as he cared for his patients. It breaks my heart to see the lines of people waiting for food. Hopefully it will be lines of people to get the vaccine soon. Here’s to 2021

    • Oh, my goodness. I recently experienced my beloved GP retiring, but the actual death of one’s doctor is a horrifically sad. I am very, very sorry to read your news. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. I can only begin to imagine the ripples of loss that must be spreading through his community of patients, co-workers, friends, and family… And the lines of people waiting for food ARE also heart-breaking. I saw one person interviewed on TV who explained that she had once volunteered at an organization where she was now getting food assistance. Those of us who have a roof over our heads and food to eat these days are truly blessed… May there be millions lining up for the new vaccines in 2021! A gentle, peaceful and healing holiday season to you and yours!

  4. Thanks for the holiday cheer and music! After the sad story of Judy Garland and your heartfelt rendition of her song, you have brought us back to a positive place. Hoping the next year will bring us all good vibes!

    • Thank you, thank you and thank you!!!! As you may remember from some of my previous posts, the music business is more and more about streaming services — which pay very poorly but potentially reach a lot of people. Right now I am simply grateful to be sharing songs I love with others who might enjoy them, too…

      • Will, just an fyi, I have the premium pandora radio, and even when I signed into my account and tried to listen, it wouldn’t let me access the music. I ended up going to spotify to listen.

      • Thank you for this feedback! Pandora has a process where — in addition to the songs being sent directly to them by the distribution company I am using — I ALSO have to submit them directly for “curation.” I have done that with the first four songs I released, and I need to do the next few… If accepted by their curators, then I think the songs become available on the higher (paid) levels of Pandora. It is a perfect example of how complicated this process can be. Interestingly, since Pandora is now both a non-interactive AND and an interactive music service (since they added a level with interactivity to compete with Spotify), they have to pay their royalties via two different organizational streams… THANK YOU for your listening persistence!!!

      • Sounds complicated and a real nuisance to have to wade through for the artist. Glad the end result is being accessible to so many listeners.

        You are welcome, Will. I really enjoyed how you did “Just Stay With Me.” It brought tears to my eyes.

      • Music does have a wonderful way of connecting us with our emotions! That song has brought tears to my eyes for many years, and I am honored that it brought tears to your eyes, too. On a much more mundane note, I need to start a spreadsheet to keep track of what I have done for each song — submitted for consideration on Spotify playlists, submitted to Pandora for curation, registered at Library of Congress in DC, signed up with SoundExchange (a non-profit which collects money for the copyright holders and performers of a particular sound recording), etc. Here’s to new spreadsheets in 2021!!!

  5. A lot to chew on here, but I’ll just comment on a little.

    Covid doesn’t really hit home until it happens to someone you know personally, as i learned several days ago from an obit in the paper that a former long-time neighbor (one of the best I’ve ever known) died of Covid at age 72.Shockingly sad, to say the least.

    On a lighter note, your mention of Mel Torme reminds me that I’ve owned his autobio for many years, but it’s been sittin’ on the shelf for so long that I don’t remember if I’ve ever read it…..and what better time than Christmas time to take it down from the shelf and either refresh my memory or read it for the first time.

    Merry Christmas!

  6. Yes. When a friend or neighbor or family member or doctor we know gets ill — and maybe even dies — the reality of the threat of Covid-19 develops a sharp and intimate focus. We will be grieving (and/or bottling up and trying to forget) these losses for years and years to come… I have only read Mr. Torme’s memoir from his time working on Ms. Garland’s TV show. I hope he wrote a much longer one about his entire life (which I, too, would love to read!) A peaceful, musical, literary, hopeful, delicious holiday season to you and yours!!!!

    • I should have mentioned the title of Torme’s autobiography: IT WASN’T ALL VELVET. He was, of course, known as the “Velvet Fog,” hence the title. At 384 pages, I’m sure it’s long and complete enough to tell you everything you’d love to know about him and his life.

      Thank you for the thoughtful holiday wishes, and I wish you and yours the same.

  7. You sing this so beautifully! Of course, I adore Judy, but the Johnny Carson clip sure can’t hide her decline. Whereas you, you are into oatmeal and herb tea and are just getting started!

    • Yes. In some ways it is amazing that she stayed as functional as she did for as long as she did given the various substances she ingested over the years… I will stick with oatmeal and ginger tea for the time being (and remind myself for the umpteenth time, “There but for the grace of g-d go I…” Let’s see if we can cultivate more patience and empathy in 2021!

  8. Hello, Will; what a wonderful post. I’m certain that your silky smooth rendition of ‘Just stay with me’ will bring warmth to the hearts of all who hear it. It did mine.
    Have a wonderful Christmas, Will, take care.

  9. Will, you always bring so much heart and love and joy to your readers. Thank you! Music is what makes the world go round, and you share the best of it. Yes, this has been a hard year. I see my grandchildren on Zoom, and each time if feels like it’s been forever. I am feeling sad, but I should be feeling grateful for technology that allows me to see them. I think there are many Judy Garlands today who are terribly lonely. I wish they could all hear you sing and wear twinkle lights. You have a great gift. Merry Christmas, Will!

    • Thank you, dear Jennie. I wear your praise very humbly and gratefully. It is perhaps fitting that 2020 should bestow upon us an unusual, warm, rainy Christmas. I just watched a great special on PBS about the 12 Days Of Christmas (starting today) in Tudor England. For them the revelry and feasting was just beginning on Christmas…culminating at 12th Night. May you have a restful holiday season!

      • You’re welcome, Will. It really does seem fitting this year that Christmas was warm, very rainy, and very windy. I will have to find the PBS special. Best to you in the coming New Year!

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