Every year at Christmas, I have a little personal tradition. I buy a new Christmas album/CD/single/download thingy. This year, I downloaded my first Christmas music — Christmas Cornucopia by Annie Lennox, plus a free single and couple of other things. Lennox’s album is good, but not as spectacular as I expected. I love her non-Christmas stuff, so I’m a little disappointed. Oh, well.
As I listened to my iPod on the way home from work, I began to think about what I’d put on it as a playlist — what are, say, the top 10 Christmas songs of all time? What do I want to have on my iPod for Christmas every year? Christmas is so many different things, the list “bounces all over the place”. Here’s the list, off the top of my head…
“Silent Night” — played by anybody with only a guitar — Haunting, melodic, spiritual
“Please Come Home For Christmas” — by the Eagles — absolutely THE song that gets me in the Christmas spirit anytime. I love the drum beat, the four piano notes at the beginning, and the whole thing. Incredible modern classic. And I can sing it in the shower.
“Happy X-mas\ War Is Over (if you want it)” — by John Lennon — Starts with the eternal question for me: “So this is Christmas\Well, what have you done?\Another year older\And a new one just begun…” As a Christian, what have I done this year? Then, though I normally hate children being part of a political thing, the singing of “War Is Over\If you want it”. It’s as simple a statement of pacifism as there ever have been. Not bad for a guy that people thought wasn’t Christian.
“2000 Miles” — by the Pretenders — I guess I like things in 4/4 time. This is a beautiful love song with all the right longing that is Christmas. And it’s happy, rather than unfulfilled longing.
“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” — by Perry Como — Not generally one of my favorite singers, but he’s got it here. If and when I’m away from family and friends (which I always am in some way or another). The Chrissie Hynde and Carpenters versions are good, too, but they’re not as good\stylish as this.
“Jingle Bell Rock” — by Johnny Hebbs (?) — The original swinging Christmas song — there are also lots of women doing great versions because it’s written for high voices, I think.
“Sleigh Ride”– by the Carpenters — I love bells and there are some in here, plus the rhythm is great, and the whip noise comes in perfectly. Also the line “by Currier and Ives” just hits it right.
“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” — by Chrissie Hynde \Pretenders — Again, the rhythm, the smoothness of it all, and Chrissie Hynde? Who knew?
“Universal Child” — by Annie Lennox — the best, most spiritual song of the whole CD.
“In the Bleak Midwinter” — by any church choir — just a great song, the right amount of (oddly) dread for an advent season. It has the lines “If I were a wise man\I would do my part.\What can I give him?\Give him my heart”. Christmas for the poor and the child. The essence of the real (first) Christmas.
“O Come All Ye Faithful” — ditto or bunch of carolers — Joyous and serious all at once.
“O Little Town of Bethlehem” — same thing — I like slow Christmas songs, I guess. Here’s one more.
“Peace on Earth\Little Drummer Boy” — by David Bowie and Bing Crosby — The absolutely weirdest duo I can imagine singing a Christmas anything. Yet it works, somehow, and it works beautifully. Who knew?
“Joy to The World” — any group of singers on Christmas Eve exiting a church –definitely not the song about Jeremiah the Bullfrog by Three Dog Night.
And two others…
“Hannukah Song” by Adam Sandler. Not a Christmas song, but the Jewish response to the thousands of them. Absolutely a hoot, and educational, too.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” — by anybody who sings “standards” — the one Christmas song I hate. Wait, I love the music and feel. But the date-rape scene — the woman sings, “Hey, What’d You Put In My Drink?” — sends me through the roof.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now. What do you think?