Darlene Love - "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"
Before there was Mariah, there was Darlene Love. She was the voice america wanted to hear, but because of mismanagement it took many years for her to gain her due. She was the lead vocalist on so many of the Ronnette’s and Crystal’s records in the 60’s and yet never received credit. Still, she pushed forward and became the kind of musician that other singers want to be.
She gained prominence in the 1960s for the song "He's a Rebel," a No. 1 American single in 1962, and was one of the artists who performed on the celebrated Christmas album A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, produced by Phil Spector in 1963. She is ranked number 84 among Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Singers.
As a minister's daughter, she grew up listening to gospel music and was a dedicated member of her church in San Antonio,Texas. She began singing in her church choir at age ten. During choir practice she caught the attention of choir director Cora Martin. After singing for Martin she was asked to go to the Music Mart where she sang and did some broadcasts; Love's career began there. As it was her first musical experience, it was also the main influence for her to pursue a music career. Those who knew her described her vocals as "the voice of a nightingale." She claimed, "(singing in) the choir was a big influence on my life. I call it my learning ground. Singing in the choir, I learned harmony."
She appears in the documentary film 20 Feet from Stardom (2013), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to win the Academy Award for best documentary at the 86th Academy Awards.
In the film, Love revealed that she had signed with Spector as a solo artist after the success of "He's a Rebel", and had recorded "He's Sure The Boy I Love" with the impression it would be released as her first single as a solo artist. However, Spector instead used Love's recording and released it as the newest single for The Crystals without informing Love. She only learned of the switch when she heard a DJ on the radio announce that the single was "the newest Crystals record".
Subsequently, Love recorded "Today I Met The Boy I'm Gonna Marry" which was released as a single by Spector, and now featured Love's name as the artist. She says that Spector offered $3,000 for her rights to the song. And though he said it was going to be a hit, she took the money. But, in spite of that decision, she said that she has continued to have a career because people have loved hearing her sing her songs.
The film provided an in-depth illustration of Love’s musical career. Although she was exploited by Phil Spector and had not been credited for her hit song “He’s Sure The Boy I Love,” Darlene Love never gave up. Her perseverance and passion for the music provides inspiration for other back up singers like Judith Hill. Her hard work and dedication is one of the main reason’s why she was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
This week is also special to me because it’s the week of the true winter solstice. It is the day that some people celebrate instead of Christmas. They may celebrate Saturnalia, or Yule, and it means something truly beautiful to me. Much like the story of Christ (a divine being) coming down from the heavens to earth to show people the way, with the winter solstice, ancient pagans believed that the Supreme Being, or universal consciousness brought the sun back to the earth. The solstice is the the shortest day of the year, and as such, it means that until the summer solstice, every day brings a little more light, and a little more sun. It speaks of divinity coming down to earth to light our path a little more brightly for the rest of the year, coming to us when we need it most, when it is the darkest around us.
This is such a mantra for me “More Light” that the solstice has become very special. So with more light I send this one out to those in their darkest moments. We all have them and we all need to believe that more light is being brought to us right when we need it.
So today, with Hope in my heart and every finger and toe crossed for happy ending, I choose Darlene Love’s iconic “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) as my, let your heart be merry and bright, sing on silver sailor, wish upon the Christmas star, song for an, open your heart and let the love come in, with every day let me become the man I need to be, every sling and every arrow was only something I’ve had to suffer through to get me to you, Monday.
I’m also giving you the Mariah version ... because it’s incredible, and filled with joy, and more joy in the world is what we NEED right now.