It’s that time of year again– certain radio stations are playing Holiday music around the clock. Here are some of my faves, most of which can be found on iTunes or Amazon mp3 downloads, etc:
#1 – “Footprints” by the Barenaked Ladies. This is an original song by Barenaked, off their Barenaked for the Holidays album, a collection of classic and original Christmas and Hanukkah songs (one of the absolute best holiday albums out there). A cozy and sweet song about a man, the object of his affection, and snow.
#2 – “Greensleeves” as performed by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. A smooth, pared down jazz rendition of an old (so old you could probably call it olde) tune. Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas is a must-have album–I listen to it year-round, but it makes my holidays extra happy. Technically not a Christmas song, but the popular carol “What Child Is This” is set to the “Greensleeves” melody, so the tune is often associated with the holidays.
#3 – “Les Patineurs” also known as “The Skater’s Waltz” as performed by the Mantovani Orchestra. Originally inspired by a skater’s glide, elements in composer Émile Waldteufel’s piece are meant to remind the listener of winter and snow and ice. Mantovani’s light orchestra version…well, it’s just so quaint and happy.
#4 – “25th December” by Everything but the Girl. A beautiful introspective tune with Christmastime epiphanies of both melancholic and hopeful natures, and the desire of a now-mature man to connect on a meaningful level with his father.
#5 – “Petit Papa Noël” by Tino Rossi. Don’t worry if you don’t speak or understand French–the melody and the sounds of an early recording get the mood across well enough. The heartfelt plea of a child asking Father Christmas to remember to fill his little shoe with a gift when he descends from the sky.
#6 – “Mi Burrito Sabanero” A traditional Spanish-language Christmas carol, usually sung by children. A first-person account of someone strumming his little guitar, happily singing and riding his donkey on the road to Bethlehem. Growing up in Miami, there was no way to avoid this Christmas classic–in school, on the radio, anywhere. In all honesty, it’s not Christmas in South Florida until local radio station Power 96 first plays it in early December. “Con mi burrito sabanero, voy camino de Belen…”
#7 – “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” by John Lennon. Most covers of this song by other musicians have an undistorted, perfectly on-key, glossy studio-finish quality; this is why all remakes of it are awful and don’t measure up to the charming, slightly messy, full-of-heart original.
#8 – “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” as originally sung by Judy Garland. The heartwarming sad & happy Christmas song.
Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow…
Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.
#9 – “In the Bleak Midwinter” as performed by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Find and listen, please. There are simply no words.
#10 – “Christmas Day” by Dido. The lyrics suggest a bygone era: a young gentleman rides by on a winter’s day, and stops at the house of some strangers for a brief respite by their homefire. He admires one of the young girls, paying her sweet compliments and finishing by promising her, “I shall return for you, my love, on Christmas Day.” So she waits and waits, childlike and starry-eyed… Gorgeous song. Its story of a girl promised to be swept away by her lover sort of reminds me of the wonderful late 80s film A Summer Story, which is based on John Galsworthy’s poignant short story “The Apple Tree.” Seriously, make some time: read the story, then watch the film, then listen to the song. Probably best you do this in private; you may shed a tear or two.