The retail world has ruled my Christmases for 20 years now. That means that before Halloween we are thinking about and starting to set up holiday displays (my apologies to all those after Thanksgiving purists!). And even though many people think it starts too early, I do enjoy the Christmas music season. I admit that I do sneak and listen to the radio stations that play holiday music early. Compiling my list of favorites, I noticed that they were all sad songs. That was a little weird for me, because although I am capable of my “Ho Ho Ho Your A&#” moments, I am usually a pretty optimistic person. In any case, here are some of my favorite holiday songs:
Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley
My mom tells me that this was one of my early faves. For Christmas one year she gave each of us (my six brothers and sisters and I) a Christmas kit, which included ornaments, decorations, Christmas cards and a cassette tape of each of our favorite holiday albums. Mine was Elvis Presley’s It’s Christmas TIme. Now it can be yours too!! I love this video! Check out the great tambourine playing.
Grown Up Christmas List by Amy Grant
Amy Grant is my sister Judy’s favorite holiday singer (she has been known to play those albums throughout the year). This is such an amazing song, really capturing the spirit of giving and caring and global thinking that my parents passed on to us.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Judy Garland
There are definitely more famous performers that have covered this song (from one of my favorite Christmas movies, Meet Me In St Louis), but I love the original because the lyrics from the movie, “…until then we’ll just have to muddle through somehow”, describe me at Barnes & Noble on about December 21st.
I’ll Be Home For Christmas by The King’s Men
I thought I would see what kinds of interesting performances were out there for this song. This one is an a cappella version from the King’s Men on FiveStoriesUpSeries, a web music series that features performances on top of a five story parking structure.
Christmas Shoes by John McNicholl
Yes, this song tugs at the heartstrings. This story happens in one form or another in many households in my childhood neighborhood. My mom has always made Christmas so special for us every year, even as adults. That is why my family gives generously to organizations in the Near West Side of Syracuse (where we grew up) every Christmas instead of giving each other presents, to give Christmas to people who have so little this time of year.
The River by Sarah McLachlan
So many people have covered this song with talent and grace, including the writer. the incomprable Joni Mitchell. My favorite performance is by Robert Downey Jr. on the show Ally McBeal (yes, I own the Christmas CD!) Here is a stunning performance by Sarah McLachlan.
Merry Christmas Baby by Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band
OK, so I am not sure how this song would rate on the sadness scale. I just know that with the blues riff, it should qualify. Here’s a rousing version from Bruce and the E Street Band. It’s great to see Clarance Clemons again, and hey, doesn’t that guy on the bass look just like Peter Tork from The Monkees??
Please Come Home For Christmas by BB King
This song has been around since the 60’s. The most widely known version is by The Eagles, which is definitely one of my faves. This video is also one I love, by B.B. King. Gotta love the blues, even at Christmas.
In The Bleak Midwinter by James Taylor
The melody is so peaceful and soothing yet the lyrics so haunting. Not a traditional carol by commerical standards, I do think it reflects the spirit of the season. I try to post live performances whenever possible on this blog (thanks, youtube!!) but I couldn’t find one for this song. Enjoy the pastoral scenes accompanying the music:
Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg
This is definitely one of songs special to me. The bittersweet moment where they can appreciate what they had together without acrimony is a moment I wish for everyone who ever had a breakup.
Auld Lang Syne by Mairi Campbell
For this song, I decided to go traditional. This is Mairi Campbell and company singing the original Scottish lyrics. She performed this song in the Sex And The City movie, where it accompanied a sweet montage of all the characters and what they were doing New Year’s Eve.
I wish for all of you a season full of wonder and blessings. And music!!