There was always one song. The ultimate carol, sung at any time. Gathered round the kitchen table, dozens of cousins singing in harmony, the odd tuneless wonder lost in the chorus.
I have multiple versions of this- acoustic, choral, jazzy, religious… Each one brings something else to that table, to my feeling of family, community and fun.
Like me, the old man was not a singer. He loved music but couldn’t make it. He wasn’t the one punched by the priest for singing badly, but he could have been. He loved the great soul singers (screemin wimmin) and when I first heard this, he was who I thought of.
For all the folk in the kitchen, and for all the folk we miss, Mahalia Jackson.
Happy Birthday old man.