One of the reasons I haven’t been adding many new posts here in 2009 was that I’ve been doing more on Facebook. Yeah, I know, as stated on the homepage: I suck. I wont proclaim that I’ll post more updates here in 2010 but I will aggregate some of my FB stuff. To that end, let me begin with my 12 favorite Christmas songs as posted on Facebook but with more information (and not necessarily in order). I know that the true 12 days of Christmas are from December 25th through January 6th (The Epiphany) but I wanted to count down to the big day as we currently celebrate it. Music is my favorite part of the Christmas Season. This list is long overdue (and far too short).
Day 12: A non-traditional and a great start to any holiday season! I heard it first on 33rpm long-play record – John Denver & The Muppets – A Christmas Together – When the River Meets the Sea. The song was written by Paul Williams for Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas which is another one of my Christmas favorites.
Day 11: A non-secular classic today. When making my Christmas “mix tapes” back in the day, I excluded Jingle Bells because most recorded versions were too childish. Then I heard this version on an oldies station by accident and it became a favorite. Sing, clap or stomp, just make a joyous noise for Fats Domino’s version of Jingle Bells!
Day 10: Carol of the Drum, better known as The Little Drummer Boy with words and music by Katherine K. Davis. Check out the interesting side bar on the link – the song dates back to 1941. This is the “original” recorded version arranged and sung by the Harry Simeone Chorale.
Day 9: Oh Holy Night – my favorite traditional and the first song ever broadcast via radio. Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Ignore the video. Just listen. The true beauty of this song is its legendary history. My favorite line is usually not sung: “Truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace.“
Day 8: With snow on all of our minds, I have to go with White Christmas. Written in 1940 and introduced two years later in the musical Holiday Inn, not the 1954 movie of the same name. I love Bing’s version, but The Drifters have way more fun with it. Their video can’t be embedded so I present the always fun animated version.
Day 7: Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song – Although its been sung many times, many ways, it was written by Mel Torme in 1947 who was just trying to keep cool one hot summer. Nat changed it slightly by adding the strings section and the song became one of the biggest hits ever. I couldn’t imagine Christmas without it!
Day 6: Another old stand-by – Burl Ives singing Holly Jolly Christmas. I still love the 1964 “claymation” movie where most of us heard this song for the first time. This one was written in by Johnny Marks who, though Jewish, wrote many other Christmas classics including Rudolph, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree and Run Rudolph Run.
Day 5: It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas as sung by Bing Crosby. “But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be on your own front door.” Every year I make a pilgrimage to some remote forest in NJ and harvest the annual sprig of Holly. This year I visited the maritime forest on Sandy Hook with my wife and a good friend of ours. Good times & happy memories!
Day 4: Happy XMas – John Lennon with the Harlem Community Choir. Yes, the song is titled “XMas” not “Chirstmas”. “So this is Christmas and what have we done? Another year over, a new one just begun.” Actually a protest song but the message is simple – Peace. On Christmas day remember the man but honor his message.
Day 3: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas works beautifully in duets. One of my favorite versions features Bing Crosby & Frank Sinatra but that isn’t one of YouTube’s favorites. This version features two performers which I dearly miss. …”Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.” I tried to not go back to the well with my most favorite Christmas Album of all time… although the lyrics have changed a lot over the years, I could only find recordings where Bing misses a lyric (He says Self instead of Heart) so I go with what works.
Day 2: From the Emmy Award winning Charlie Brown Christmas Special – Christmas Time Is Here by Vince Guaraldi. “Christmas time is here. We’ll be drawing near. Oh, that we could always see such spirit through the year!” This video features an excellent edit of the special and includes Linus’ monologue (Luke 2:8-14). The inclusion of this word-for-word reading originally horrified CBS executives but Charles Shultz insisted saying “If we don’t tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?”. Read more of the interesting history here.
Christmas Day: John Denver & the Muppets – Alfie the Christmas Tree. Anyone that knows me probably had a good inkling that this would be my final song. It’s one of John Denver’s favorites and it was inspired by the Muppets that helped him perform it. Merry Christmas! The video features the entire segment of the special including a duet with Kermit. Great stuff.