With it finally being after Thanksgiving, I feel more comfortable with the idea of listening to Christmas music now (it concerns me that they start the Christmas stuff – music and decorations and whatnot – the day after Halloween now). To that end, I’ve put together a playlist of my favorite holiday tunes.
1. The Royal Guardsmen, “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron”: not a holiday song per se, but I had this Christmas tape growing up that had a whole series of songs about the conflict between the German World War I flying ace and everyone’s favorite cartoon dog, so I’ve always associated the song with Christmas.
2. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (Live)”: growing up in a household devoted to ye ole Classic Rock, this song was always something of a Christmas gimme.
3. Barenaked Ladies, “Green Christmas”: even if it came from that atrocious Grinch remake, the song itself is pretty good and a nice encapsulation of the Grinch story. And funny, to boot.
4. Bing Crosby, “White Christmas”: isn’t this just sort of a no-brainer when it comes to Christmas? I mean, the holiday season without this song isn’t the holiday season, really.
5. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Christmas All Over Again”: doesn’t really do anything that Petty and the Heartbreakers don’t do on pretty much every song they’ve ever released, but when your sound is that good, it doesn’t have to. Lyrics are a little goofy, but there’s a lively tempo, a sense of warmth and humor, and Petty gives us his Christmas list at the end (surprisingly devoid of illicit drugs, even).
6. The Eagles, “Please Come Home for Christmas”: using an R&B-style rhythm for a Christmas song is pretty clever, actually.
7. Vince Guaraldi Trio, “Linus and Lucy”: even though the song wasn’t written specifically for the Charlie Brown Christmas special, it’s sort of synonymous with that particular special and just way too much fun not to include.
8. Death Cab for Cutie, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”: I’m allowed at least a couple of random indie songs on the list, right?
9. Dean Martin, “Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!”: not as ubiquitous as the Bing Crosby number, but it still ranks up there as one of the all-time greats.
10. Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlin, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings”: what’s probably must surprising about this track is just how bouncy it is. This tune swings, baby!
11. Burl Ives, “A Holly Jolly Christmas”: Burl Ives is pretty synonymous with Christmas, y’know? Not having a Burl Ives song on here would’ve been a crime.
12. Over the Rhine, “All I Ever Get for Christmas is Blue”: an indie Americana tune that’s mellow and sad. Very pretty.
13. Bob Dylan, “Must Be Santa”: zydeco Dylan Christmas song? How could this not be pure, distilled awesome?
14. Thurle Ravenscroft, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”: another of those classic Christmas cartoon specials comes through with a fantastic, witty song about the humbuggiest of them all.
15. Frank Sinatra, “Mistletoe and Holly”: man, those old crooners really did some great Christmas songs, didn’t they?
16. Jack White, “Christmas Time Will Soon Be Over”: a folk blues Christmas song from the Cold Mountain soundtrack (Jack White’s involvement in the soundtrack was the best thing about that film).
17. John Lennon, “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”: another of those classic rock Christmas songs that we heard every year at the ol’ homestead. The anti-war message is as relevant today as ever, sadly.
18. Bing Crosby & David Bowie, “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth”: has there ever been a stranger duet? I think not.
19. Neko Case, “Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis”: again, not one of those songs that’s really about the holidays, but it’s such a great cover of a Tom Waits tune and the title does have Christmas in it.
20. Paul McCartney, “Wonderful Christmastime”: the most saccharine song on the list, but not horrible for all that.