By Chris Moore:
This is the second installment in my Christmas music playlist series, perhaps my most brilliantly titled one yet! 😉
As you’ll notice, I’ve done my best to present a wide span of time periods and topic matter, including songs that touch on winter in general, the legendary figures of Christmas (such as Santa, Rudolph, Frosty, etc.), and the spiritual music honed in on the “reason for the season” (i.e. the celebration of the birth of Christ).
Perhaps my greatest failing in this list (and, with a subject as broad as Christmas, I am sure to have many) is the lack of traditional Christmas songs, hymns and otherwise. I have two comments about this: first, it is simply a fact that many, if not most, artists have tended to pour more of their creative energy into non-denominational tracks, perhaps hoping to avoid alienating their audiences, and second, there is also a tendency for truly great bands to record some of their best performances on their own original holiday music.
For this reason, you’ll see a lot of contemporary classics of the Christmas genre represented here.
If you’re a person who appreciates and perhaps even prefers traditional music, I would strongly recommend checking out the original Beach Boys Christmas album for “We Three Kings of Orient Are,” which was cut from this list only because “We Three Kings” is included in the BnL/Sarah McLachlan version of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” Brian Wilson recorded some fine renditions of traditional tracks on his 2005 solo release What I Really Want for Christmas, including “O Holy Night,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “The First Noel,” and “Silent Night.”
And, if you can get beyond the gravel in his voice, Bob Dylan gives a bang-up, wannabe 1940’s treatment to many of these tracks, plus “O’ Come All Ye Faithful” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
The track listing below is another assortment of Christmas songs, fast and slow, happy and sad. In fact, starting with the hopeful but tentative tenor of Stevie Wonder’s “Someday at Christmas,” I plugged in several of my favorite somber yuletide tunes: BnL’s “Green Christmas,” the Moody Blues’ “A Winter’s Tale,” and Ben Fold’s Grinch soundtrack offering “Lonely Christmas Eve.”
Don’t fret, though, there are plenty of upbeat tracks to balance it all out. Consider the typically punky/poppy Weezer take on “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” the disaster-averted hilarity of Relient K’s “Santa Claus is Thumbing to Town,” and the Temptations’ excellent and unique arrangement of “Rudoplph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
As always, I hope you enjoy reading through this playlist, and that I’m able in some small way to nudge you toward getting into the spirit of the season, despite how busy or how burdened you may be.
Check back next week for the third installment in the series!
1. “Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)” – Elvis Presley
2. “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” – Weezer
3. “Jingle Bells” – The Brian Setzer Orchestra
4. “The Man with All the Toys” – Brian Wilson
5. “Someday at Christmas” – Stevie Wonder
6. “Green Christmas” – Barenaked Ladies
7. “A Winter’s Tale” – The Moody Blues
8. “Lonely Christmas Eve” – Ben Folds
9. “Away in a Manger” – Johnny Cash
10. “Wonderful Christmastime” – Paul McCartney
11. “Feliz Navidad” – Jose Feliciano
12. “Christmas All Over Again” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
13. “Santa Claus is Thumbing to Town” – Relient K
14. “I Wanna Be Santa Claus” – Ringo Starr
15. “Hey Santa!” – The Wilsons
16. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – The Temptations
17. “Frosty the Snowman” – The Beach Boys
18. “Merry Christmas, Baby” – The Beach Boys
19. “Christmas Evening” – Jim Fusco
20. “Auld Lang Syne” – Barenaked Ladies