By Chris Moore:
Living for years with a friend who made it his business to know, love, and compile Christmas music, I’ve never really taken much ownership of the hundreds of holiday songs that are on my iPod, many of the older and/or more obscure selections having been discovered through him. Of course, there are certain albums that I look forward to hearing every year. These albums are collections of music that really help me get into the spirit of the season, ranging from classics like the Beach Boys’ sixties Christmas album to 2004’s Barenaked for the Holidays.
The problem I encountered last year was that the albums were easy to isolate in my iTunes, but the individual tracks from artists that I only listen to at Christmas time were more difficult to call up. Some of the more legendary singers are easy to remember, like Bing Crosby and Burl Ives, but it is still inconvenient to flip between artists after every song or two.
This year, I was struck by the desire to hear the songs I missed last season, so I woke up early this morning to sort out all the yuletide tracks. In the end, I had 340 songs in a playlist titled simply “Christmas Collection.” Now, this is an excellent list to play on random when friends or family come over, or when you’re simply looking to mix it up.
But it could also be a drag to suffer through all your least favorite versions of your favorite songs or to keep hoping a song you’re thinking of is coming up next.
Thus, I sorted out my favorite songs into a separate playlist. After I had picked through all 340 tunes, I found myself with 70 songs. Still too many, so I forced myself – forced! – to cut out ten more. With sixty remaining, I set about separating them into three more manageable lists of twenty each.
This is volume one of the creatively titled “Christmas” playlist series!
In this first playlist, I’ve included some of my absolute favorites, like the Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick” and the Moody Blues’ “Don’t Need a Reindeer.” I’ve also added some lesser known but equally excellent holiday themed tracks, like Clarence Carter’s “Back Door Santa” (a song I definitely did NOT fully understand when I first heard it at age 12) and Relient K’s “I Hate Christmas Parties.” One of the most difficult decisions for me here was whether to use the original and unarguably classic Band Aid version of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” In the end, I went with the BnL version, which is on the whole much more listenable, as it’s louder and clearer.
When they remaster the Band Aid version, I may need to revisit this playlist…
I’ll be back with more commentary on the tracks in specific and my process overall next Saturday, so be sure to check back for volume two!
1. “Little Saint Nick” (Single Version) – The Beach Boys
2. “Christmas Vacation” – Mavis Staples
3. “Don’t Need a Reindeer” – Moody Blues
4. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – Barenaked Ladies (Band Aid cover)
5. “Back Door Santa” – Clarence Carter
6. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” – Darlene Love
7. “Holly Jolly Christmas” – Burl Ives
8. “The First Snow” – Mike Fusco
9. “Winter Wonderland” – America
10. “Come On Christmas, Christmas Come On” – Ringo Starr
11. “Blue Christmas” – Elvis Presley
12. “I Hate Christmas Parties” – Relient K
13. “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” – John Lennon
14. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – Judy Garland
15. “Christmastime (Oh Yeah)” – Barenaked Ladies
16. “Christmas Time is Here Again” – The Beatles
17. “Christmas Don’t Be Late” – Alvin & the Chipmunks
18. “Run Rudolph Run” – Chuck Berry
19. “Here Comes Santa Claus” – Bob Dylan
20. “The Christmas Song” – Nat King Cole