But you may never forgive me for the terrible title pun.
Since there are many holidays this time of the year (29 from November through most of January for various major religions!), I’d like to say, whatever you celebrate (even if it’s just Festivus) I hope your holiday and season is filled with love, good people, good times, and peace.
Now I will breach a subject that may be touchy, I hope we can have a respectful and mature discussion about it . . .
Holiday and Christmas music.
Some people downright loathe it, others love it unabashedly, others enjoy it but get twitchy from songs being overplayed. I mostly love it, but get a little twitchy over it. Considering right after Halloween it starts and goes on and on. . .and on, the most played songs can start to get on my nerves. I love the classics, the ones that first come to mind when this time of the year comes, but those also tend to be the ones that you hear 30 times a day.
I thought I’d write about some “off the beaten path” songs that I enjoy. My iPod is full of holiday music, but a mix of the well-known standards in various versions along with many songs that you may not know or rarely hear. Here are a handful. (Yes, I consider this a handful, there are just too many to write about!) Since I didn’t want this post to be full of videos I’ve linked to them through their titles so you have easy access in case you want to listen to them.
Good enough to be classics, but . . .aren’t.
“The Secret of Christmas” by Ella Fitzgerald is mellow and subtle, the kind of song to which you can sit by the fire gazing out at the snow. It speaks of being a good, decent person all year, delivering a message we could all use. And, plus, it’s Ella Fitzgerald! Perry Como gets some play with a few of his songs this time of the year, but one that I especially love, and may not be as well known, is “There’s No Christmas Like A Home Christmas.” This one is quite poignant for me as I book my flight back to Kansas and count the days until I fly back to be with my family. “I Remember Christmas” by The Drifters is such a sweet song and so catchy, I’m surprised it’s not more popular and familiar. Joni James sings about love and Christmas and how perfectly they go together in her ballad, “Christmas and You.” Peggy Lee sings my absolute favorite version of one of my favorite Christmas songs (“The Christmas Waltz”) but she has a lot of lesser known cute Christmas songs from which to choose. I think “Christmas Carousel” is one of the most fun and memorable.
Who doesn’t love a good polka?
Okay, probably a lot of people, but these songs are entertaining and instantly put me in a good mood. “Merry Christmas Polka” by The Andrews Sisters may be better known than a lot of the songs I’m writing about but it still seems under the radar. Margaret Whiting has a couple polkas to check out, “Christmas Candy” with Jimmy Wakely and “The Mistletoe Kiss Polka.” I’d love to find some more good Christmas polkas.
A little bit country.
Gene Autry sings some of the most played Christmas songs, but he also has some really great underplayed gems. I’m quite keen on “Merry Christmas Waltz,” and “Everyone’s a Child at Christmas” speaks to the delight each of us feels and the spirit and excitement the season invokes. Tennessee Ernie Ford delivers “Christmas Dinner” in that unmistakable voice, touting “a big fat turkey or maybe a ham” and a variety of other scrumptious food. I can’t help but dance when Tex Ritter starts singing “Christmas Carols by the Old Corral.”
For your cheeky, playful side.
I’m a complete sucker for those campy songs that are silly but still fun. Art Mooney and His Orchestra perform “Nuttin’ for Christmas” with Barry Gordon. The boy sings how he “made Tommy eat a bug, bought some gum with a penny slug” and someone is always snitching on him. Cracks me up every time! Brenda Lee sounds as if she’s being a little naughty on “I’m Gonna Lasso Santa Claus” but really she wants to help other kids who don’t get presents. “I Wish You a Merry Christmas” by Big Dee Irwin and Little Eva sounds like a fun, upbeat song until you really listen to the lyrics. As you listen, you pick up that wishing a Merry Christmas is all the other is going to get. As the song fades out you hear him say, “I wish you would just shut your mouth.” Ha! Ella Fitzgerald tells us a funny anecdote about last Christmas in “Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney.” No more explanation needed on that one!
Be one of the hip, cool kids.
These songs, at their time, must have been so modern and probably were looked upon as atrocious by the older folks. Paul and Paula put out a snazzy Christmas album with some great songs, two of my favorites from it are “Holiday Hootenanny” and “The Happy Holiday.” Jimmy Charles sings “Christmasville USA” and makes being in your town sound so much fun! Apparently, in it’s heyday, the Twist even attracted Santa, evidenced by Tommy Reagan’s “Santa Twist,” Robin Sisters’ “Chimney Top Twist,” and “Merry Twist-mas” from The Marcels. Debbie & the Darnells make a request in “Santa, Teach Me to Dance.” Honey and the Bees deliver a zesty little ditty in “Jing Jing A Ling.” The Beach Boys gave us some bouncy Christmas songs, but “(I Saw Santa) Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Santa’s Beard” don’t get the airplay of some of their other songs.
Just plain good and festive.
For your mission of hanging out by the mistletoe hoping to get kissed, you can always listen to Dick Robertson sing “Meet Me Under the Mistletoe” and Aretha Franklin, “Kissin’ by the Mistletoe.” Mabel Scott gives us a glimpse of “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus,” The Hepsters tell us we should be “Rockin’ N Rollin’ With Santa Claus,” while The Andrews Sisters tell of a little boy in “I’d Like to Hitch a Ride with Santa Claus” and Guy Lombardo tells us “He’ll Be Coming Down the Chimney.” And to wrap it up, let The Lennon Sisters wish you a “Merry, Merry Christmas” in their beautiful harmony.
Maybe you’ve heard of some of these Christmas songs, maybe you haven’t. If you have started twitching already perhaps I’ve been helpful, giving you some new songs to add to your play list. Or maybe you’re just twitching more because I’ve just given you more Christmas songs with which to be tormented!
You’re welcome, or I’m sorry. Whichever applies.