She'll Grow Back: Guestpost: Carolyn Sills - George Bailey

Friday, December 18, 2009

Guestpost: Carolyn Sills - George Bailey

And here's Travis (previously 1 2) to tell you about his favorite Christmas song of 2009:

On a whole, 2009 was not a great year for many people. One of the few bright spots is that Mark introduced me to the first new Christmas song to enter my top 10 list in a long time. Since I put my list on this blog last year, Mark has graciously offered me the opportunity to write about the new song, "George Bailey" by Carolyn Sills (official MySpace) (and a little bit about my favorite movie).

Despite the new age of hope in Washington, 2009 may well be remembered as the year the "Great Recession" peaked. So this year when we settle in to watch the greatest Christmas movie of all time, we might find a greater connection to the problems of Bedford Falls. A movie filled with bank runs, market panics, and subprime mortgages seemed quaint and archaic until they were in our news. The grand historical events of the movie were not yet historical in 1947, so they served as a backdrop for George Bailey's life the same way they had for the lives of the original audiences. Watching near the end of the last century, we saw a man in a strange time, living through events without peer in the modern era. Over the last few years, however, we have had a taste of the times of George Bailey, and now we feel some of the outrage at bankers and some of the fatigue of years of war.

It is interesting, then, that Carolyn Sills ignores all of those parallels, all of the historical backdrop, and even the main conflict of the movie in her song, "George Bailey." Instead, she writes a rocking Christmas love song from a fan, who lives through Mary Bailey. Taken on its own, the lyrics have Mary Bailey singing, until Ms. Sills speaks for all of us, singing that every Christmas George Bailey makes her cry. The lyrics are great, but so is the music. Capturing the seemingly forgotten classic Christmas rock sound (the echoing drum and cymbals lead in told me right off this would be special), "George Bailey" could have been recorded in 1959 as easily as 2009. Great lyrics, great music and a great subject all add up to an instant classic now in my top ten Christmas songs of all time.

As a bonus, the official video for the song takes the style of the iconic "George Lassos the Moon" drawing and transforms it into a early Disney style animation. The animation focuses on Mary Bailey refurbishing the old house, and pressing the various objects of the house into service to help out. The whole video has a great energy and manages to seem not as much intentionally retro as it does appropriate.

I have not watched It's a Wonderful Life for this year - I hope instead to see a screening at our local theatre on Christmas Eve. Until then, this song is in any playlist I create.

Carolyn Sills - George Bailey
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