Identify the Mystery Song

I pride myself on my knowledge of arcane musical facts. (Music trivia is the only game I have the confidence to play for money.) I’m also pretty good at identifying songs, or so I always say. So when Miles sent me tapes of the WLS Holiday Festival of Music and told me that he had been unable to identify one of the songs, I was pretty sure I could help him out. Yeah, right. I can’t identify it either, so I’m turning to you. The mystery song starts the mp3 below. It’s a choral piece, but I don’t know if it’s a pop song or something older. The quality of the recording makes it hard to pick out the lyrics. Still, I’m hoping somebody might recognize it. If you do, let the class know in the comments. Prize for doing so: the hearty handshake, the pat on the back, and the knowledge that you’ve helped a friend of this blog figure out something that’s been bugging him for 27 years.

The aircheck below also includes the complete WLS newscast heard just before 2AM on Thursday, December 25, 1980. It contains that Christmas radio-news staple, the report from midnight mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, as well as a story about midnight mass in Chicago and an update on the U.S. hostages spending their second Christmas captive in Iran. All that’s missing is a story that seems all too common in Christmas news reports, about the fatal fire or traffic accident somewhere—although it surely can’t be that those stories are more common on Christmas, just more tragic. The newscast wraps with a frigid weather forecast. The reporter, Bob Conway, is still on the air in Chicago today, anchoring overnights at WBBM.

As I’ve written previously, there’s something romantic about being on the air on Christmas. Radio people are like cops, firefighters, and hookers, in that we stand at our posts willingly, doing what we do, 24/7/365, in case somebody needs us. And this year, for the first time in 10 years, I’m going to be on the air Christmas Eve, doing the midday shift (10a-3p, US Central) Monday on 93.1 The Lake.

It’s where I belong.

One Other Thing: Searching for information on Bob Conway, I was reminded that each year, WBBM runs a fabulous series looking back at news events in Chicago, the country, and the world on Christmases past. A bunch of them are archived here.

One Other Other Thing: I’m not going to get around to producing a Christmas podcast this year, but I’ve reposted last year’s here. It’s about 27 minutes of fat-free and (mostly) sugar-free holiday goodness.

One Final Other Thing: Thanks to Any Major Dude With Half a Heart for mentioning this crappy blog as one of the nominees in its Blog of the Year category earlier this month. I didn’t win, but that’s OK: Echoes in the Wind did, and I think that’s great, even though whiteray likes “Same Old Lang Syne.”

WLS Christmas Morning 1980 just before 2AM

3 thoughts on “Identify the Mystery Song

  1. After tireless research, I believe the song is from an opera called “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” I haven’t been able to locate the exact title, but it’s a start.

  2. Miles

    That’s wild because every time I play that song for someone to identify, I always mention that it sounds like something from “Amahl and the Night Visitors”. If Willie also thinks it’s from “Amahl”, I will definitely investigate further. Jim, my endless thanks for putting the call out on this tune.

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