New Year’s Songs: George Winston, “The Snowman, Walking in the Air”

I’ve always liked George Winston since his first Windham Hill days. (Speaking of Windham Hill, I used to see Will Ackerman deliver albums to Plowshare Books on University in Paly in the Seventies.) I had a couple of his albums; then in moving around a lot, and with the switch to CDs and digital recordings, and not being able to afford stuff, I wasn’t always able to reclaim everything.  I have Linus and Lucy.  I had December.    This instrumental has made me remember what I liked about Winston’s work.

What is this piece?   It’s actually from a British cartoon based on a children’s holiday book called The Snowman.

The Snowman is the tale of a boy who builds a snowman one winter’s day. That night, at the stroke of twelve, the snowman comes to life. The first part of the story deals with the snowman’s attempts to understand the appliances, toys and other bric-a-brac in the boy’s house, all while keeping quiet enough not to wake the boy’s parents. The two then venture back outside and go for a ride on a motorcycle, disturbing many animals: pheasants, rabbits, a barn owl, a fox and a brown horse.

In the second part of the story, the boy and the snowman take flight — the song “Walking in the Air” appears at this point. They fly over the boy’s town, over houses and large public buildings before flying past the Royal Pavilion in Brighton and a pier and then out into the ocean. They continue south past many sights and animals. Flying into the aurora australis they reach their destination.

The two wander hand-in-hand into a snow-covered forest and attend a snowmen’s party, at which the boy is the only human. They meet Father Christmas and his reindeer, and the boy is given a scarf with a snowman pattern.

The story ends after the return journey. However, the sun has come out the next morning and the boy wakes up to find the snowman has melted. The boy begins to wonder if the night’s events were all a dream, but he discovers that he still has the scarf given to him by Father Christmas.

Father Christmas is the British equivalent of Santa Claus.

I love the idea that the story is pulled off with no dialogue whatsoever, except for the singing and the music.   Makes me think of a very silent film.  It’s very quiet, and you could say, introspective. Which is something that has been lost during these holidays, and sometimes, during these hard times, and this awful weather causing headaches, destruction, and in some cases, even death. Looking within at the cusp of a New Year, and appreciating and celebrating wonder and  imagination.  We forget.

I think it’s funny when the boy and the snowman fly past a cruise ship full of drunk passengers…shades of the New Year approaching.

There aren’t very many New Year’s songs as there are Christmas songs, but I think that this is just as apropos.  Some may think Windham Hill music is rather Muzak for yuppies or Boomers–um, I don’t.  It has its place.

I am going to get some George Winston soon.

~ by blksista on December 31, 2010.

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