I’ve always liked Christmas music, except like some other good things, there’s too much of it. Start playing the stuff about two weeks before the holiday and that’s plenty, fine, thank you. At least the radio stations in the area don’t start the 24 hours of the songs until Christmas Eve and that’s fine. I make an exception to the caroling though. Can’t get enough of that.
Most of the holidays at my house when I was a kid were fun. It was a chance to see relatives that hadn’t been around the rest of the year, and there was always a big meal and the anticipation of presents. I remember one year when I was about 10 that was the best Christmas and the worst ever. Mom had been laid off from work just in time for the holidays, and warned me and my two older brothers that Christmas was going to be canceled, or at least delayed, that year. There was enough money for a nice dinner, but nothing left over for presents. I, being the youngest, was disappointed, but I accepted it.
Then, somehow, my family scraped together a few coins and found a little variety/grocery store that was open late on Christmas Eve. At the back of the store was a bin of old 33 vinyl records. You could tell that they were discounted because there was a round hole punched through the label. They bought three Christmas albums and wrapped them up for me and put them under the tree. I remember two of them: an album by Lorne Greene, of Bonanza fame, and one by Jim Nabors. (Who knew he could sing?) They were terrible, but we played the records while we ate our Christmas dinner and had a great time. End of story. God bless us everyone. But I hung onto those records for most of my adult life.
Here’s a look at this year’s batch of Christmas music, both old and new:
Aimee Mann and her husband, Michael Penn, have come up with a moody collection called “One More Drifter in the Snow.” It’s a little morose, but I like it. Of course, one of my favorite Christmas songs is Elvis singing “Blue Christmas.”
Sarah McLachlan is one of my favorite singers, even though her arms are a little flabby. On “Wintersong,” she plays out a bevy of holiday traditional songs best enjoyed in front of a roaring fire.
My favorite song by Peggy Lee is “Is That All There Is?” On “Christmas With Peggy Lee,” she gets you in the spirit with all of those tried and true numbers that you’ve heard so many times before, but really don’t mind hearing them again. You’ll be baking the cookies, trimming the tree, and waiting snuggled up by the fireplace waiting for Santa to arrive. Is That All There Is To Christmas?
Smooth-as-silk Lou Rawls recorded his last album simply titled “Christmas” right before his death from cancer in January. He can still lay on that Christmas style ala Nat King Cole.
Country music artists and Christmas music go together like mashed potatoes and gravy. Or maybe it’s more like corn grits and flapjacks. Anyway, if you can’t make the Andy Williams show down in Branson, Missouri this year, check out Brad Paisly and his “Brad Paisly Christmas” CD, or how about “Redneck Christmas,” with sure-fire hits like “Xmas In Jail.”
If your Christmas diet includes whiskey and cigarettes, then you’ll love “Christmas With The Rat Pack.” Or how about Dean by himself singing on “Christmas With Dino.” There’s even a rumor going around that he didn’t spike the eggnog while recording it.