Monday, December 1, 2008

Holiday Music

Happy December!

I traditionally wait until the day after Thanksgiving to start listening to my own holiday music collection. But pretty much from the day you start cooking your turkey and dressing you can count on hearing holiday music in all of the stores, malls, elevators etc. and everywhere you go you're subjected to this zombie-state inducing onslaught.
This year I inadvertently got an early start to the Christmas music exposure because the radio station that I wake up to every morning started playing holiday songs on November 13! Every year, Warm 106.9 exclusively plays only holiday songs (well they say "holiday" but it's really Christmas songs; I haven't heard a Channukah one yet) until the end of the year. In years past they've waited until a decent part of November to start this monotonous torture (I mean seriously they repeat the songs on a daily basis) but this year they turned the insanity up a notch starting so soon after Halloween.

My KRWM station has reminded me of the holiday songs that I love and the ones that I hate. And over the past few days as I've gone through my own holiday music collection I've weeded out songs that have lost the magic and encountered new music that are destined to be classics in my holiday library.

Classic Favorites:
  • Pretty much anything by Andy Williams but especially "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and "Do You Hear What I Hear" (Andy's is the only version of "Hear" that counts IMO).
  • "A Charlie Brown Christmas" by Vince Guaraldi. Nothing better. Period. Guaraldi's "Greensleeves" reminds me of my mom so much that I get very verklempt listening to it.
  • "Christmas Potrait" from the Carpenters. Reminds me so much of my childhood that for me it's the definition of "holiday nostaligia".
  • "These Are The Special Times" by Celine Dion. I know I know...but seriously hear me out. This holiday album is amazing (except for the version of Feliz Navidad - see below). And don't give me grief for calling it a classic. It is.
  • "This Christmas" by Donny Hathaway. Only his version of this please.

New stuff and Uncommon oldies that I dig and can't do the season without:

  • Any and all versions of the song "Christmas Waltz". I don't know what it is about this tune but as I hear the beginning "frosted window panes..." I am immediately in a better mood.
  • In that same vain, I've never heard a version of "My Favorite Things" that I don't love. But damn Barbra Streisand for putting this on her Christmas album 3o years ago and turning it into a holiday song. What would Oscar Hammerstein think?
  • James Taylor's versions of "Some Children See Him" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas". The first is a song that I only knew from Andy Williams but Taylor's version released a couple of years ago is so wonderful. The latter is a song that has generally worn out its welcome with me and jeezus have you ever really listened to the words? Very depressing. But Taylor's version (he changes the lyrics a little) manages to be poignant and hopeful.
  • Kenny Loggins's "Celebrate Me Home" and Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne". I lump these together because, well because in many ways, Dan and Kenny are like the same 70s bearded sensitive songwriter dude. But also because these two songs remind me of my mother.
  • "Last Christmas" by Wham! and "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses. 80s classics that if I don't hear? It ain't Christmas.
  • "All I Want For Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey. So infectious and awesome.
  • New millenium Folk girl holiday music from the likes of Mindy Smith, Brandi Carlile, Jessie Baylin, Sara Barleilles and the like.

And now a brief list of holiday songs that I can't stand and never have to hear again:

  • Feliz Navidad - Makes me homicidal.
  • Silent Night - so grating. No version sounds good to me.
  • Little Drummer Boy - ditto. All versions make me want to "par rum papum pum" on somebody.
  • Wonderful Christmastime. I used to love this McCartney tune and I never understood what people hated about it. I don't know when that changed; now I seriously can't hear more than one measure without getting a migraine.
  • I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. Seriously? I wish I could go back in time to prevent this song from being written. See also: "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth".
  • Pretty much anything that I consider "kiddie Xmas". Like crap about Rudolph, Frosty, blah blah blah.
  • Most Xmas "novelty" songs. I don't care to hear about grandmas getting run over by reindeer or chipmunks singing, or any of that other shit.

Now I'm off to listen to Lou Rawls's version of "Christmas Is". Have a great December!

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