Thursday, December 27, 2012
his name is Noel
We’re all very familiar with the story of the first Noel, and have heard countless versions of the song over the years. The song itself is a traditional classical English carol that dates back to at least the 18th century, and possibly earlier. It was first recorded in southern England in 1823. Literally hundreds of artists have recorded it since that time, but my sentimental favorite is the one recorded by Natalie Cole:
The First Noel
Less familiar to us, though, is the MAN named Noel, although he’d be instantly recognizable by his “stage name”.
He was born on December 30, 1937, which means that he’ll be turning 75 years old this year. He was born in Balimore, Maryland, but his retirement home is in the tiny town of Blue Hill, Maine, where he continues to record music in a building that was previously used as a chicken coop.
In case you’re wondering, the area around Blue Hill looks very much like the area known as “Golden Pond”, which makes it an ideal location to spend your retirement years.
His best known compostion is a song that was recorded for his best friend’s 1969 wedding in Minnesota. Because he is a devout Christian, and his friend is a devout Jew, he asked God’s guidance for the music and the lyrics for the song, which were provided to him on a midnight flight between San Jose and Boston. Because he did not feel that he could take personal credit for the song, he set up the Public Domain Foundation in 1971 , which distributes royalties for the song to various charitable causes.
His full name?
Noel Paul Stookey
This is what he looks like today:
And this is what he looked like when he was part of the most popular singing group in America 50 years ago: