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What the Holidays Really Meant… Before They’re Forgotten Again

By MELLISH // Most likely the last thing you'll ever read (or hear) about the recent holidays...maybe the best too. Inspired by Ben Vaughn

Mr. Mellish wants you to listen to this and read along with it.

The end of the year holidays induce a series of emotions and connotations in most people – family gatherings, food, fun, gifts, food, holiday songs, vacation, travel, food, and ……..      dread.

[Cue Ben Vaughn Quintet: “Iiiiiiiiiiiiii don’t want to go hoooome”]

Dread of seeing well-meaning relatives asking about everything we might measure ourselves against – Are you seeing somebody spppeeccciaaalll? For the single.      Soooo, when are you going to settle down? For the involved.      Have you decided on a major? For the undecided college student.      How is that job search going? For the un and under employed.

You can be sure the buttons will be pushed, and the independence gained from distance will be reeled back into childhood status upon return.

The real distance traveled comes from our reaction to the inevitable and familiar.

Hearing the same stories for the countless time balances with appreciation for the few times left with the oldest among us to hear what nobody else in the family will ever know.

And thoughts about how somebody should take it all down.

Cookies seem to go well with reflection, while at the same time infusing the bloodstream with sugar to talk with the next family member.

Sports broadcasts permeate the air.

Sometimes, unknowingly, we ask the same kinds of questions of others, reaching for nice conversation that puts people on the spot.

Family gatherings at holiday times can remind us of those holes in our lives waiting for when we get back home, assuming we even want to go there.

[Cue Ben Vaughn Quintet: “Iiiiiiiiiiiiii don’t want to go hoooome … aaaa-lone”]

Evidently, that’s what Ben Vaughn’s holiday means, if his annual concert in Philly I saw is any indication. That was “I Don’t Want to Go Home” from his new record released at the show – just in time for a fun, dread-filled holiday soundtrack.

The retro, rootsy, quirky rocker behind the music of “That 70s Show,” “3rd Rock from the Sun,” and scores for several films like Swingers leaves sunny, but lonely, L.A. each holiday season to visit family – where he probably gets asked why he hasn’t settled down, and performs an annual concert at WXPN’s World Café Live, a venerable listener supported radio station based out of the University of Pennsylvania.

XPN also happens to be the area station that broadcasts Vaughn’s syndicated radio show, “The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn,” a weekly, hour-long eclectic mix of music featuring rock, blues, jazz, folk, soul, R&B, country, bossanova, movie soundtracks, easy listening and more.

Vaughn’s recording career of more than 15 releases dates back from the mid-80’s, and includes collaborations with Marshall Crenshaw, John Hiatt, the Violent Femmes' Gordon Gano, Alex Chilton, Alan Vega of Suicide, Rodney Crowell, and the impresario behind Joan Jett’s first band The Runaways, Kim Fowley.

The multi-talented Vaughn has produced bands and records from Ween, Los Straitjackets, Memphis rockabilly legend Charlie Feathers, and under-appreciated Muscle Shoals country/soul singer Arthur Alexander -- who was covered by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Elvis, among others.

The man gets around, which seems to be part of the problem, as his holiday concert in 2016 featured the recurring theme of love lost and dread of returning home on his own.

[Cue Ben Vaughn Quintet: “My mind ain’t right, my mind ain’t right, it might not last another lonely night.”]

Vaughn somehow manages to make loneliness sound amusing, as if you’re in on the joke, which takes the edge off of the dread.

In the end, the dread in the holidays is the honesty within ourselves.

The warmth from being with family, and enjoyment from the food, time off, and all that goes with it – the love of others for us, reflects the love we have in ourselves.

Holidays, are only a mirror.

[Cue The Velvet Underground – “I'll Be Your Mirror”]

I'll be your mirror

Reflect what you are, in case you don't know

I'll be the wind, the rain and the sunset

The light on your door to show that you're home

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