So my last post was on awful Christmas songs. It only follows that today’s post will be on excellent Christmas songs, right?
I know this time of year can be very annoying when it comes to holiday music, especially if you happen to work in retail, where the season may start as early as late October. There are also plenty of people who like to listen to Christmas music as soon as the holidays start. It’s easy to find awful Christmas songs, but what about the excellent ones?
A few years ago, when I was writing a whole lot of music reviews on Epinions.com, I went through a phase during which I reviewed a bunch of Christmas albums. I started in early October, reasoning that my reviews would be available just in time for the holiday season, giving people time to buy them in time for Christmas. Of course, now I sit here thinking it was funny that my husband once gave me two Christmas themed albums for Christmas. You’d think by December 25th, I’d be tired of listening to any music having to do with the holidays… and the holidays would be over in a week, anyway.
In any case, there are a few albums from that time period that I go back to again and again, year after year. And I have also made some new discoveries this year. So, without further ado, here’s a few excellent Christmas songs for your listening and viewing pleasure. And if you have any to add or beg to differ, please feel free to leave me a comment.
Some Children See Him
The first time I heard this very progressive Christmas song was in 2004, when I happened to buy James Taylor’s Hallmark album, A Christmas Album. I was very moved by the lyrics, which are about how different children around the world see baby Jesus. Of course, we all know that not all children believe in Jesus Christ. Indeed, I’m not even sure if James Taylor is a believer. I do love what he does with this song, though.
Celebrate Me Home
Kenny Loggins has done his share of holiday music. His 1999 album, December, is full of original and traditional music for the holiday season. One song that was not on that album is this classic, “Celebrate Me Home”. I never get tired of it any time of the year. It’s about coming home for the holidays, but it’s full of heart and hope.
Mary J. Blige’s new holiday album includes this classic hit, which was first made popular by Donny Hathaway in 1970. The first time I heard it, Jane Monheit was singing it; but I think I prefer Mary J. Blige’s more soulful rendition. I also like that it’s new for 2013!
You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch
Of course, this song is a classic at Christmas time, thanks to Christmas TV specials. Cee Lo Green takes on the Grinch with his fun rendition of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch”. I dare you to listen to this and not break into a big smile.
Mary, Did You Know?
“Mary, Did You Know” is another newer song which has been recorded by a lot of people, everyone from Wynonna Judd and Kenny Rogers to opera diva Kathleen Battle. The version I have included to this list is by Sonya Isaacs, a bluegrass artist whose voice, in my opinion, is just gorgeous. Yeah, this song is very emotional and some may find it a little over the top religious. It still touches me every year. I love the melody and Isaacs’ vocal reading.
Sting covered this song in 1987 for the very first A Very Special Christmas compilation. Since then, he has updated it with a more haunting, deeper version for his 2009 album If On A Winter’s Night. I like them both, but I think I prefer Sting’s edgier, earlier version from 1987.
Technically, I wouldn’t call the beautiful German piece “Highland Cathedral” Christmas music, per se. Amy Grant included it on her 1999 album A Christmas to Remember and I later used it as my wedding march in November 2002. I could listen to this all year, but I’m a little biased. “Highland Cathedral” was composed by Ulrich Roever and Michael Korb in 1985 and is now quite popular in Scotland. I think it fits very well during the holiday festivities.
Christmas Time Is Here
I never get tired of “Christmas Time Is Here”, especially when it is performed by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. The above version includes vocals by the Peanuts gang, but I love the haunting melody on its own, too.
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
I’m talking about the one done by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, of course. I have heard this song done by plenty of folks and no one does it quite like The Boss does.
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
I have included Judy Garland’s iconic version here, but this song has been successfully covered by a lot of fine singers. I am pretty partial to James Taylor’s version, myself. This song is meant to be consoling and sweet and Judy Garland certainly captures that in the film Meet Me In St. Louis.
And with that, folks, I hope your holiday season is going well… See you next time!