I am not, in any appreciable way, a Christmas enthusiast. I enjoy giving presents but receive them awkwardly, am often exhausted by the planning and parties and all, and the holiday foods—especially the fixation on peppermint—are tiresome.
But I do love the music. To me, the Christmas experience is my father making the family wait with diminishing patience on the big morning as he makes coffee, brings in the paper,and takes care of the fire in the woodstove—all to a soundtrack Christmas albums that he has carefully (read: slowly) selected and placed in the CD changer.1
In the spirit of the holiday, I wanted to share a collection of what I consider to be a perfect Christmas album—my favorite versions of my favorite classics, along with some non-traditional songs that I find suit the season. Enjoy… (and if you want to go listen to this as a playlist, you’re in luck!)
- The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole — this is the quintessential version of what I consider to be the quintessential Christmas song. You can’t go wrong with almost any version of this song, but this is the correct one.
- Little Drummer Boy by Bob Segar — Bob Segar’s voice was created for this song. This is a song that I generally find annoying, but this version is fantastic.
- Thistle Hair the Christmas Bear by Alabama — Non-traditional? Yes. Weirdly sappy? Yes. I unironically, unrepentantly enjoy this song.
- Baby it’s Cold Outside by Leon Redbone and Zoey Deschanel — If you read, or write, a think piece about this song this year…learn how to search the web for things, trust me, it’s been done more than enough times already.
- Frosty the Snowman by Willie Nelson — Like Bob Segar above, Willie’s voice was made for telling a story in a song like this. I was torn between this and his version of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer; but this is one wins by a nose! (See what I did there? I’m not proud)
- This Time of Year by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones — “It gets me, and it never lets me, act like I don’t care…”
- Oi to the World by The Vandals — if “punk rock classic” was a thing, this would be it.
- Sexy Christmas Baby Mine by Morphine — I love the sound of the horn in this; the lyrics? Not so much…
- Silent Night by Stevie Nicks — This is my second favorite Christmas song, sung by one of my favorite female vocalists. Frankly, I’d listen to Stevie Nicks sing names from the phone book…but this is better.
- God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen by Jethro Tull — Gorgeous, I have put this whole album on repeat and left it running throughout gift wrapping more than once.
- Fairytale of New York by The Pogues — A Pogues song that is both catchy and—dare I say it—pretty?
- Winter Wonderland by Michael Buble — What can I say, it’s a very classical treatment of a classic song. Also, this is how I found out what a Michael Buble was.
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing by Bad Religion — After the intro, it’s a fun punk treatment of the song, but don’t gloss over the really pretty harmonizing the gang did to start things off.
- Do You Hear What I Hear by Whitney Houston — I normally think that Whitney Houston (like Mariah Carey and far too many female vocalists) does too much showy garbage. It serves this song well, though.
- Christmas Song by Dave Matthews Band — Every time I listen to this, I fall in love with a different section of the guitar work. The song itself is great, but oh how I love that acoustic guitar.