Holiday / Christmas Music: An Open Thread.

I'm not much of a Christmas music person. For me, Tchaikovsky and Guaraldi are pretty much the only things that don't make me hurl. Maybe because they're both a little melancholy.

I really like the YouTube video from a guy who calls himself "alabamaharpist" (aka Steven Todd Miller) above, doing a cover of "Christmastime is Here," my favorite Guaraldi / Charlie Brown Christmas song. The harp is like the unicorn of musical instruments. It's easy for people to make fun of, because it's so pure and innocent. And like the unicorn, it ends up in a lot of bad, cheesy art, and is the stuff of fantasy cons and filkfests. But so what. I think the harp is totally awesome, and Harpo was my favorite Marx brother by far, and Christmas is about the only time of year I'll let my guard down to admit any of this in public, and by the way shut up.

I love this, too, and I could listen to it all day on loop, at least 'til the soy-nog runs out.

So what's your favorite holiday music? Post some linkage in the comment thread here. Internet videos, internet radio channels (surely Soma FM's multiple holiday channels deserve some props), MP3 blogs? What are you eating fruitcake to? Or when you spin the dreidel, what do you spin on the vinyl? Talk to me. Link-discuss-hohoho.


  1. we’ve been dancing around the house to the christmas channel. lots of old standards updated with a chill beat. it’s looped through about five times, and that’s ok with us!

    merry christmas/happy hanukkah/jammin’ kwanzaa etc.

  2. I made my dad a Christmas album of all the Jazz greats a couple years ago that was pretty cool. I worked at a video/audio duplication job and had access to pretty any music you could imagine and found some amazing stuff. It had a few of the songs on this list on it.

    I’ve always loved this song too. Two great vocalists mashing up a couple classics. And I love that it’s two generations of singers coming together. Anyone know what this was made for? Looks like it’s made for a TV special.

  3. I loathe Xmas music but heard this show the other night and it was awesome:

    It will be there a few more days, 5 hours of Ella, Duke, Django, dreamy music for Xmas morning or parties.

    Every year when I hear the Paul McCartney song I hear something snap in my head. This music is the antidote.

  4. I have the Vince Guaraldi CD that came out a couple of years ago that has covers of most of his Charlie Brown music, including Linus and Lucy and Skating, as well as the carol. I have to say that’s the favorite around here too, although I usually prefer the sounds of silence. Instrumentals make great backgrounds, and don’t interfere with good conversation.

  5. Did a little research to answer my own question about the Bowie/Crosby duet I posted and Wikipedia answer it for me. Seems I was mistaken to say they were “mashing up a couple classics.” The Peace On Earth bit that Bowie sings was written for that special. Bowie just makes it sound like a classic.

  6. It’s not Christmas music per se, but some may enjoy selected works of the ‘antichrist’

    P.S. off topic sorta but I’d be much obliged if someone would link to a list of html tags that work here in the comments. I tried to disguise that URL with a couple of tags I found on wikipedia but either they didn’t work or I didn’t use them right.

  7. As I’ve been on an Irish traditional kick for the last couple of years, I lean toward xmas tunes that sound like they might work as jigs or reels.

    With that in mind, we’ve been posting some bouzouki/fiddle/mandolin/bass pieces on youtube.

    So is it spam for me to post a link here?
    Hello! Long-time listener, first-time caller!

    YouTube, search for “Acoustic Christmas Card 2008″ or:

    Happy/Merry etc’s. all!

  8. I actually have a few…

    This is me singing a carol (I realize I got the words a little wrong) in the empty entryway of a megacorp I used to work at. Since they laid me off in June, there’s no harm showing it now. :)

    A Cubicle Carol:

    This is the most awesome (and secret) Christmas party (just outside) of Hollywood. The hosts hire a piano player to play every sort of song you can think of. It ends up sort like that old SNL sketch “The Drunks Sing…” This is two years ago.

    Singalong Christmas At The Yellow Alamo:

    And this is this year’s video from the same party, where I pulled a very special Christmas surpise at the end of my version of Falling Slowly :)

    Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to all!

  9. I too like Guaraldi, and I love harps. Speaking of which, as much as I loathe most c-mas music, if Joanna Newsom put out a holiday album, I’d buy the hell out of it! I don’t really have many suggestions for holiday music, although I did listen to the Raveonettes Christmas EP, and if you like their stuff, the EP sounds like their newer material with many more bells. Win-win.

    @15 4649, I know the blockquote tag works here, as well as basic formatting. To do links, do

    <a href=”(url)”>(text that will become a link)</a>

  10. We’ve been buying a lot more xmas music the last few years, mostly because we want our 3 year old to have some good memories of quality music (even though he will likely hate most of it for a good portion of his youth).

    Just picked up one of Ella’s stunning xmas albums, and the song that really grabbed me was one I hadn’t heard before, “Sleep Baby Jesus”. Whatever you think about the idea of Our Savior/Destroyer, it’s a gorgeous little song.

    But much to my wife’s displeasure, my Kryptonite of xmas songs is a mashup from a couple years back called “The Christmas Massacre of Charlie Brown”. Basically a mix of Zep’s “When the Levee Breaks”, Guaraldi’s signature piano riff, and snips of Peanuts’ lines from the two xmas specials. I can still listen to it on a never-ending loop and never tire of it. I’m simple like that.

  11. Phil Kline’s “Unsilent Night” event is good.

    The CD of Joey Ramone’s “Christmas Spirit” is cheerful. Loreena McKinnitt too!

  12. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

  13. I’ve always been partial to Xmas Jazz (including Guaraldi) and soul and have a whole mess of both. But may favorite Xmas song is “Kung Fu Christmas,” a parody written by Paul Shaffer and Christopher Guest for the National Lampoon Radio Hour in 1974, the same year as Carl Douglas’ “Kung Fu Fighting” hit. It’s hilarious, but, more importantly, it’s a killer soul song in the Motown/Philly Soul/Curtis Mayfield vein that stands on its own as a Christmas classic (well, in my book anyway).

    Semi-obscure, so I couldn’t find a YouTube or other video, but a google search found more at this blog. Have a Kung Fu Christmas !

  14. I generally get sick of Christmas music after about six minutes, but there are a few options that I really love this time if year:

    “December Will be Magic Again” by Kate Bush might be my favorite Xmas song ever. It’s epic and melodramatic and beautiful and odd and awesome.

    The Wedding Present does a great cover of Elton John’s “Step Into Christmas”. It’s good 90s UK indie guitar rock.

    I can’t stop listening to Reverend Horton Heat’s Xmas album, “We Three Kings”. A good mix of straightforward rockabilly and semi-jazzy interludes. There’s a cover of Willie Nelson’s “Pretty Paper” on there that’s devastatingly good if you can handle the sappiness.

    Finally, Rhino put out a great collection of oddball Christmas jazz called “Hipster’s Holiday”. Lots of great stuff from the 50s and 60s.

  15. It just doesn’t get better than Gayla Peevey singing “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas”.
    It’s the only Xmas tune that I keep in rotation all year long.

  16. Some have mentioned the Ella Fitzgerald Xmas, I also like a budget bin find from about 10 years ago for a Louis Armstrong Xmas CD.
    Another budget bin find from the early 1990’s is a reggae/calypso xmas cassette by someone named Kokomo Jo that I finally converted to digital this year. It’s bouncy and you can dance to it.

    Speaking of which, James Browns Funky Xmas is just great. Soulful, heartfelt with great arrangements.

    Finally I also like the often “bootlegged” Beatles Xmas album. It’s made up of the annual messages the official fan club members received up until 1969. It’s funny to see the progress from, “Hi, I’m George Harrison!” to the pschyedelic period where is just crazy fun. Somewhere in there is an appearance by Tiny Tim as George Harrison was a fan of anyone that played a ukelele.

    You good folks have a safe and joyous celebration.

  17. The two all-time best ever Christmas music collections ever, ever are:

    Handel’s Messiah (also covers Easter);

    Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift For You. It’s the rock ‘n’ rollest, wall-of-soundest Christmas ever committed to monaural shellac. Even if you think you haven’t heard it, I guarantee you have. It crops up as a musical bed for all types of promotional messages at this time of year. But that is a crude misuse for this masterpiece of it’s era.

    Think of audio mulled-wine milkshakes dispensed straight into the cockles of your brain from a tinsel-covered tinseltown jukebox.

  18. I’m not personally bound, to any one genre, so I’ll offer a smattering.

    In the newer, pop-ier stuff, I personally think the Sufjan Stevens christmas album is great. It’s got some nice takes on older tunes and some new stuff too. E.g. :

    I’m a big fan of Duke’s arrangement of the Nutcracker Suite. The album is “Three Suites”, and a particularly awesome track is .

    And if you want to once again enjoy the traditional songs, there’s a nice album by the Cambridge Singers called “Christmas Star: Carols for the Christmas season” which is pretty good, especially their performance of “I wonder as I wander” which is both technically difficult and incredibly amazing. (Not as good performance: ).

    Also, as a one-off, I love “Christmas in Prison” by John Prine. ‘Tis nice. With…interesting visuals:

  19. Playing TubaChristmas always got me in the spirit, and I believe the sonorous sounds of a massed tuba-euphonium choir performing holiday carols will swell the hearts of the Grinchiest among us.

    I don’t play much anymore though. I miss it sometimes. I’m happy to see the Nashville TubaChristmas this year is still as good as I remember when I played there many years ago.

  20. the Lovecraftian rewrites of traditional yuletide carols offsered by the HP Lovecraft historical Society have been, for years, the only holiday music I can stomach

    I’ve had some Lovecraft-flavored holiday experiences (mistook a large, densely-packed mob of Black Friday shoppers for a shoggoth once a few times), so, to me, any yuletide yodeling without cosmic horror is tragically inaccurate.

  21. Hi gang. Piping up for the Jewish contingent, it may have played in your area already but musician Craig Taubman’s put together a live concert “Lights: Celebrate Hanukkah Live” for PBS. I write Teruah, a daily blog on Jewish music that’s loaded with Hanukkah music, including a brand new 30 minute podcast full of off beat selections. My two favorites of the moment…The Leevee’s singing Latke Clan and Lipa singing a Chassidic funk version of Oy Chanukkah

  22. I’m going to get kiblizted for this, but totally rock Mannheim Steamroller during the Holidays. Just the right amount of ’80s neo-future hi-fi cheese for the holidays.

  23. I kept getting distracted by his shirt . . . it’s so bright (!) and shiney…and I’m impressed by his groovey style of shoulder dancing. The facial expressions are priceless!

  24. When I saw the still image from the video above it looked like he was turning a crank. I hoped it would power a system of gears that would rotate the Christmas-tree in the background so the branches would hit the harp, effectively making Christmas music. I was disappointed to find actual musical skill demonstrated.

    Anyone know of some more innovative Christmas music-making, perhaps with cranks, levers, gears and pullies?

  25. I’ve been listening to Muppet Central Radio almost constantly lately. They’ve been doing nothing but Christmas tunes. The Muppets are surprisingly prolific with the holiday songs. Surprisingly heartwarming too. :P (It’s not all John Denver duets. I generally change the channel for those. I’m a sucker for Emmett Otter’s Jug Band, though.)

  26. Oh lord, and I saw Aimee Mann’s Christmas Show at the Nokia Theatre the other night. I love Aimee, she’s my favorite singer and her holiday album is a favorite (her dry, sarcastic tone gives a nice twist to those old Christmas songs) but I was surprised by Nellie McKay, who I’d never seen or heard before; she took on this sort of daffy, sleep-medicine-addled persona, barefoot in a nightgown, and sang an achingly lovely plea on behalf of slaughtered Christmas trees called Chrismas Dirge.

  27. Oh, Sufjan. His Songs for Christmas album(s) are fantastically beautiful, especially his original songs, and fill me with Christmas spirit even though I am an atheist.
    Also, The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack is appropriate for Christmas and Halloween. And everything else.

  28. I love the John Fahey “New Possibility” Christmas album. It’s a rough and raw style of fingerstyle guitar. The rendition of Carol of the Bells is mesmerizing.

    Christmas is the time of year that I play my guitar the most. We here so may versions of the songs that two wonderful things happen. First… the songs are easy to pick out by ear. For me that is fantastic because my ear is terrible. Second… You can hardly get them wrong. However you play it, it fits in the mix somewhere.

    But of course it is December only. December 26 and I uncheck the boxes on the Holiday music and resync the iPod.

  29. Okay. I’m a volunteer dj at a community-access station, and this was my set list Sunday night:

    “Jingle Bells” (James Lord Pierpont), live, NRBQ
    “Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairies” (Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky), Mag Seven
    “Don’t Believe In Christmas”, the Sonics
    “Super Rock Santa”, the Fleshtones
    “My Last Christmas”, the Dirtbombs
    “Things I Want”, Tenacious D w/ Sum 41
    “Christmas With The Devil”, Spinal Tap
    “We Three Kings” (Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr.), Jacqui Naylor

    “Scrooge”, Lord Buckley
    “Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis”, Tom Waits
    “There Ain’t No Santa Claus On The Evening Stage”, Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band
    “X-Mas In February”, Lou Reed
    “A Child’s Christmas In Wales” (Graham Greene), John Cale

    “Christmas Time”, the dB’s
    “Lovely Christmas”, Jason Ringenberg & Kristi Rose
    “Talking Christmas Goodwill Blues”, John Wesley Harding
    “The Coming Of Jah”, Low
    “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (Trad.), T-Bone Burnett
    “Just Fine”, Ciao
    “Welcome To The Camp”, Martin Sexton
    “Christmas Time”, Chandler Travis

    “Little Drummer Boy” (Katherine K. Davis), the Dandy Warhols
    “Christmas At The Zoo”, the Flaming Lips
    “Gloria” (Trad.), Elastica
    “New York Is A Christmas Kind Of Town”, Marah
    “O Holy Night” (Adolphe Adam), the Phenobarbidolls
    “It’s Christmas, Baby (Why You Wearin’ Black?)”, the Aquavelvets

    “Santa’s Gonna Come In A Stagecoach”, Buck Owens
    “Christmas In Prison” (John Prine), the Boxmasters
    “Christmas In Washington”, Steve Earle
    “Christmas Morning”, Lyle Lovett
    “Silver Bells” (Jay Livingston / Ray Evans), Dwight Yoakam

    “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” (J. Fred Coots / Haven Gillespie), Big Al Carson, Lars Edegran & his Santa Claus Revelers
    “Got To Get You Under My Tree”, Sonny Landreth & the Dixie Cups
    “Christmas Fais Do Do”, Marcia Ball
    “Santa Claus”, Sonny Boy Williamson
    “Christmas Day”, Detroit Junior
    “Merry Christmas Baby”, Chuck Berry
    “Christmas Time”, Li’l Ed & the Blues Imperials

    “Death May Be Your Santa Claus”, Mott the Hoople
    “Little Drummer Boy” / “Silent Night” (Josef Mohr / Franz Xaver Gruber)/ “Auld Lang Syne” (Robert Burns), Jimi Hendrix & Band of Gypsies
    “Amazing Grace” (John Newton), Jeff Beck

    “Chrithmath In Athol”, Channy & Johnny
    “Deck The Halls” (Trad.), Dan Blocker
    “Good King Wenceslas” (John Mason Neale), the Butthole Surfers
    “Swiss Christmas”, the Smothers Brothers
    “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (Bob Geldof / Midge Ure), Richard Cheese & Lounge Against The Machine

    “Christmas Time All Over The World”, the Smithereens
    “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”, the Reverend Horton Heat
    “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” (Theodor Geisel / Albert Hague), Viva Maxitone
    “Feliz Navi-Nada” (Jose Feliciano), El Vez
    “Cancel Christmas”, Rocket From The Crypt
    “Snow Miser” (Maury Laws), Crash Vinyl
    “White Christmas” (Irving Berlin), Stiff Little Fingers
    “Hooray For Santa Claus” (theme from “Santa Claus Conquers The Martians”) (Unknown), Sloppy Seconds
    “Run Rudolph Run” (Chuck Berry), the Humpers

    Beats the living hell outta all of the Lite Rock Xmas drivel…..

  30. Bela Fleck and the Flecktone’s “Jingle All the Way” — jazz banjo and Tuvan throat singers. Match made in heaven. Weird and wonderful.

  31. I too totally adore the Bowie/Crosby duet.

    I heard this song on the radio the other day and was highly amused

    They started off as a college group and went their separate ways after graduation. A decade later, apparently what happened was an earlier version of this video/song went viral and caught the attention of someone in the music biz, who went about reuniting them and getting them a record deal. (I’m somewhat surprised he managed to lure back ALL of them).

  32. I have never been a big fan of Christmas music, that is until Bela Fleck and the Flecktones released “Jingle All The Way”.

    Bela can play absolutely any style of music on the banjo, and totally tears it up!

    Check out the album, and make sure you listen to the preview of track 3 “Sleigh Ride”.

    Jingle All The Way

  33. Hmmm…

    The Crypt Keeper’s Christmas album

    “Chiron Beta-Prime” ( by Jonathan Coulton

    “Sex toys for Christmas” by Vegas deMilo

    “Christmas at ground zero” ( and “The night Santa went crazy” ( by Weird Al, of course

    “I’ve got a boner for Christmas” by Nerf Herder

    “Kraid rest ye merry Motherbrain” from Doctor Octoroc’s new 8Bit Jesus album (

    The 8 Bits of Christmas, the 8-Bit Peoples Christmas comp (

    Have yourself a weird little Christmas!

  34. I really enjoyed pressing CTRL/F on this page and looking up what other people hated or loved.
    So what is my Herpetologist antidote
    to the toxin that is Jingle-Bells-Dog-Bark song?

    #45 posted by sswaan nailed it:
    The Waitresses’ Christmas Wrapping.

    I hated this song when I first heard it
    but it’s really wonderful in it’s simplicity.
    And hearing it once in a year (at best)
    is what seems to make it so nostalgic.

    What do I hate now but have to live with?
    Long ago my brain memory cells
    were changed to sing the following to
    Good King Some-thing or Other:

    “La la la lalala,
    For your joy this season,
    Spryte goes well so many-ways,
    Lie-man in the reason…”

    Shoot me now.
    After all…
    No one wantsa chirrens with such bad luck.

  35. The Bowie/Crosby duet has been one of my favourites for a few years, but my all-time favourite Christmas album has to be Mario Lanza’s collection. Absolutely gorgeous voice, and very traditional music.

    At our house we also get to hear a lot of Burl Ives, as that’s my brother’s favourite CD.

  36. I have found that 11 months is not long enough for me to miss all those songs that have been done to death. So, I do my best to avoid hearing any December holiday music. I’ve done especially well this year.

    However, I’m amazed that there has been a discussion of the harp without a mention of the woman who is, undoubtedly, the best (only?) harpist/entertainer in the world, Deborah Henson-Conant. See for more info.

    Since she and we are Boston-based, we get to see her frequently. Her show is great! Don’t miss her if she comes near you.

  37. I like your comments about the innocence of the harp and its subsequent abuse.

    The series ‘How Music Works’ by composer/director Howard Goodall features a nice part where the beautiful harmonics of the harp really come out. It starts at 4:51 (timed link):

    The entire series is well worth viewing, though. Very insightful. Goodall even sings ‘Silent Night’ at the end.

  38. Melancholy? “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is incredibly melancholy, especially when you listen to Judy sing it. (Whenever you hear it done brightly and uptempo, usually by some airhead pop singer, you are hearing it done wrong.)

    “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is another one.

  39. i have an essay on santa claus i’d like to share, but i’m not sure this thread is the place… anyone interested ? it’s a solid page, probably
    similar in length to the #72 playlist (cool, btw)

  40. The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping” is a classic, as SWAANN and previous posters have noted. I that and a few others on my blog at

    Xeni – Funny you should mention the Marx Brothers, as the “sanity clause” joke from “Animal Crackers” is also on my list of classic Christmas tunes/audio. Go have a ilsten.

  41. When I was a kid, on Christmas eve, my dad used to light a fire and play a radio station that ran a very long loop of christmas tunes. I have very fond memories of trying to fall asleep while the music played from downstairs.
    Today the local classic rock station gives over from about 9:00 PM Christmas Eve till about 5 or 6 Christmas day the same sort of loop, albeit generally more contemporary. They will also run a radio version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ and Dylan Thomas reading “A Childs Christmas in Wales’. And yes I put the station on and for about 24 hours we are inundated with Bowie and Bing Crosby, The Waitresses, Carly Simon and so forth.
    Frankly I love the emotional flashback.
    Merry Christmas everyone. Have a safe an happy holidays.

  42. After Scoring a Vinyl copy this summer, This is quickly becoming my favorite Holiday LP :

    It’s even better if you Know the Ventures Catalog, as they weave it in and out of each Holiday song- who else would’ve thought to seamlessly combine “Tequila” with “frosty The snowman”? ( 1:50 on “Pt. 2″) Of course, Way better in Analog!!!

  43. Happy Christmas! 浮かれやがってw
    Mebuta brings us this rendition of Utada Hikaru’s First Love. This one changes the lyrics to reflect the otaku mood of the season.
    This was last year’s sensation, but it has the same sort of idea… Christmas is canceled!
    Lonely X-mas! Need I say more? Don’t be thrown off by that first frame, it leads up to something fantastic. XD
    And Hatsune Miku is working on Christmas. At least it is with Santa Claus!

  44. Gotta love Robert Earl Keen’s Christmas with the Family… I can’t get to youtube from work. Worth hearing a couple of times. Rosie O’donnel fronted a version with the Dixie Chicks. Feliz Navidad!

    Oh, the excellent Tom Waits Christmas Card started as a Bukowski poem.

  45. I like “That was the Worst Christmas Ever” by Sufjan Stevens, “New Baby for Christmas” by George Jones and I used to have a red vinyl single by Shonen Knife called “Space Christmas” – why did I sell that????

  46. There are lots of strange and obscure holiday songs here and here. I can’t link to any of the MP3s directly, but Stan Freburg’s “Christmas Dragnet” and Hal Singer’s “I Saw Hanukkah Harry Beat Up Santa” are great, and if you’re into tasteless I suggest taking a listen to Tiny Tim’s “Santa Claus Has Got the AIDS This Year.”

    Also, there’s a mess of New Year’s songs here. Happy holidays, everybody!

  47. Another suggestion is the Harp interlude from Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols. He wrote it in the cargo hold of a freight ship in mid at Atlantic at the height of the German U-Boat campaign. He’d just returned from a tour of the USA, at which he’d heard Balinese Gamelan percussion- the arrangement owes something to that style. The melody is based on the tradition Christmas Hodie antiphon.

    But nevermind all that. If you like the harp, or beautiful pensive music in general, you need to hear this. (starts quiet).

  48. Not sure if anyone will get all the way to the bottom of this list or not, but here are three of my favorite Christmas related items:
    “Under the Christmas Fish” by the Didjits
    “Thank God it’s Not Christmas” by Sparks
    The Ventures Christmas album.

  49. Back in 2001, my husband made a mix entitled, “Christmas Music That Doesn’t Suck!”

    The Ramones – Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight)
    The Ventures – Jingle Bells
    Stiff Little Fingers – White Christmas
    El Vez – Feliz Navi-Nada
    Cheech and Chong – Santa Claus and His Old Lady
    Bruce Springsteen – Santa Claus is Coming to Town
    Disco Noel – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
    Adam Sandler – The Hannukah Song
    John Lennon – So This Is Christmas (War Is Over)
    Bing Crosby and David Bowie – Little Drummer Boy
    They Might Be Giants – Santa’s Beard
    The White Stripes – Candy Cane Children
    Bob and Doug McKenzie – The 12 Days of Christmas
    Weird Al Yankovic – Christmas at Ground Zero
    The Arrogant Worms – Christmas Sucks
    Henry Rollins – ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
    Pansy Division – Homo Christmas

    We listen to it every year as we decorate the tree, and it never gets old.

    I’m looking forward to spelunking through all these Christmas music suggestions!

  50. @Xeni – Why not always let your guard down? We love you for who you are, not who you pretend to be.
    [Now I have to go rebuild my music library – thanks for all the great link-love, folks!]

  51. Hi! I saw this post, and just HAD to reply. My name is Jessica Tate, and I am a Jazz Harpist here in Oklahoma City, OK. I’ve been a harpist for about 20 years, and have been doing the jazz entertainer thing for quite a while now. My major influences are Miles Davis, Peggy Lee, Billie Holliday, and that sort of ilk. I was surprised to see, as another reviewer mentioned, that Deborah Henson-Conant wasn’t mentioned in this post. I was also (vanity, I suppose) curious to see if any of the commenters mentioned me, since I’ve been playing around for a while, and hopefully, quite a few people have remembered it.

    Harp is a wonderful instrument, and is just as versatile as you can make it – it’s essentially a piano turned on it’s side, and you can do anything on a harp that you can do on a piano.

    I should also mention that I hate Xmas music, as I’m pretty much forced to play it every year until my ears bleed.

    That being said, I’m glad to see BB paying attention to this wonderful instrument, especially mentioned in a non-traditional sense.

    Check out one of my shows if you’re ever in the OKC area – my myspace is just my first and last names, and I post my gig schedule on there.

    Have a very merry Christmas, but if someone asks me to play ‘O Holy Night’ one more time…so help me…


  52. Some not-so-obvious favorites stolen and enjoyed:

    Muppets Christmas
    Canned Heat Christmas (!!)
    Jimmy Smith, Christmas ’64
    David Grisman Acoustic Christmas (very tasteful, Mom will love it)
    Korla Pandit Christmas

    Nothing says holiday spirit like bittorrenting.

  53. Boyhowdy@ #15 —
    Thanks for linking to me!

    For everyone else, I’m the proprietor of She’ll Grow Back, an MP3 blog (Boyhowdy runs a blog too — and his routinely makes mine look sparse and unappealing) which has been posting at least one song every day this month.

    I’m particularly proud of that Depressing Little Christmas mix, but I also posted its twin this year, Have Yourself A Magical Little Christmas. (Sorry, Xeni, no harps though.)

    Thanks to all for posting here — I already have too much holiday music sitting around, and now I’m off to get more.

  54. I am an atheist but a total softie for Christmas devotional music, especially choral stuff.

    I’ve posted a few to the ol’ blog here and there; this year I posted a couple from the aforementioned Sufjan set as well as a recording of a William Billings tune (arguably the first American composer). I like the King’s Singers christmas album as well. Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen might be my very favorite song ever.

    I hesitate to direct even a tiny fraction of BB traffic to my personal/family blog, but what the hell, it’s christmas:

  55. Those of you who posted about El Vez (I saw a couple), if you ever get a chance to see El Rey’s Christmas Show live, do not miss it. He puts on the best live show in the world, especially at Christmas.

    His album Sno-Way Jose is my second favorite Christmas album, right after Aimee Mann’s “One More Drifter…”

  56. If you like harp, and flute, and cello, check out the Adagio Trio. Talk about peaceful music! There are delightful arrangements, in a wide variety of genres, mostly arranged by the trio. They get a lot of play on our local classical station.

  57. I put together a series of holiday videos at one of my blogs, called Play I Some Music.

    Unfortunately, we nabbed a couple from BoingBoing itself so we are not the most original peas in the pod. But it’s a fun collection nevertheless:

    Merry Kwanakkamas!

  58. @#38: spoke too soon about no video of the classic National Lampoon soul parody “Kung Fu Christmas.” The audio (only) was recently posted on YouTube. There’s an intro/set-up (from the orig Lp), so the actual song doesn’t kick-in till about 55 seconds in. see: Kung Fu Christmas.

    p.s. speaking of classics, there’s always RUN DMC’s Christmas in Hollis. cheers!

  59. Ensemble Polaris, Midnight Sun, Traditional Nordic Melodies.

    It isn’t actually Christmas music, it just sounds like traditional and mostly cheery Christmas music played and sung by a great group of musicians in a church. If you’re wondering how a Delta blues break can fit perfectly in the middle of such a song (the first track), you should get this album.

    But… the publisher discontinued it, Amazon pulled the audio clips, and iTunes store doesn’t carry it.

  60. I signed up for an account just to tell you that “Christmastime is Here” is my favorite Christmas song. It’s pretty much the only one I can tolerate. I love the melancholy of it…

    I’ve been listening to Christmas music at work since mid-November and have only heard it twice. Nora Jones did an excellent version – I don’t listen to her, so that was a nice surprise.

    Anyway, from one fan to another, Merry Christmas!! It’s a great song.

  61. “The Little Drummer Boy” would be my favorite Xmas pop song — if I had only heard it once.

    “Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence” So you’re the other guy who saw that movie.

  62. I agree with the Phil Spector mention. I’m excited about the Muppet Central Radio link, too – I’m a big Muppets fan.

    A good song for this year is Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas”:

    A few years ago, I went on a Christmas music buying spree, and emerged with the following, which have been the standard for me since:

    A Christmas Gift for You – Phil Spector (and associated artists)
    The Carpenters Christmas
    A Motown Christmas
    White Christmas soundtrack
    Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton – “Once Upon A Christmas”
    The Guaraldi/Charlie Brown Christmas
    Recordings by Jessye Norman and Kiri Te Kanawa

    How about Low’s “Just Like Christmas” as well:

  63. I’m pretty traditional, but in an international kind of way. Most of the best carols (IMHO) are from France, England, Germany, Poland & Spain. Occasionally I’ll hear an arrangement I like; but mainly I prefer to hear them sung straight, with little or no instrumentation, or on folk instruments. I greatly enjoy “classical” music, but find that most orchestral arrangements of carols sound a bit overblown. (The orchestral treatment seems to work best for medleys, especially if a clever arranger manages to juxtapose two seemingly contrasting tunes.) There are some very nice Appalachian & Canadian carols that don’t get enough play in the USA, too.

    Vince Guaraldi’s music for “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is delightful, and has just enough melancholy that it actually lifts one’s spirits. The secret, if one wants to know, is his jazzy use of “impressionist” chord progressions, such as Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel used. Consequently, the music is never in an entirely major or minor key. Of Guaraldi’s soundtrack, I think the “skating” music is my favorite bit.

    Many French carols, however lively, are in a minor key, which I think is great because nobody ever expects that of a Christmas carol!

    Adolf Adam’s “O Holy Night” is very beautiful, but rarely performed well. I think it works best as a solo, sung by a skilled amateur who in no way tries to imitate anyone else’s style. As soon as they show off their a capella voice training, or go in the opposite direction and stick those pop singer “dips” in there, the effect is lost.

    One of my all time favorites is “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” — probably because the tune is by Mendelssohn — and because he was a nice Jewish boy!

    Speaking of which, “Rock of Ages” is my very favorite Chanukkah song (even if one can’t dance a hora to it).

    The popular, secular “holiday” songs I don’t enjoy quite so much on their own terms, although they’re fun to sing with kids (who aren’t so cynical about them as I am). Of course, they work best when improved upon in parody, getting increasingly more off-color or sophisticated as the audience ages. “Walking ’round in Women’s Underwear” is a big hit. I also recently wrote a “Frosty the Golem” musical retelling of the Golem legend that I think turned out pretty well.

  64. #153 ndollak,

    Super comment!

    “I also recently wrote a “Frosty the Golem” musical retelling of the Golem legend that I think turned out pretty well.

    Posted anywhere? Please say Yes — I’d love to read it. So would a lot of others, I’ll bet.

  65. Buddy, found this looking for the California Guitar Trio. Their Christmas album includes Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence. My wife loves Christmas music, so I buy her a new album each year.

  66. I’ve already seen several of my favorites mentioned. I like Irish and Celtic Christmas music and have several CDs of this. I’m also very fond of the Jethro Tull Christmas album. I worked in retail for many Christmas seasons, and I have to tell you, about the only Christmas music I find unbearable is any R&B/pop take on it.

  67. I should have been a little more specific about that…Some pop Christmas is pretty good. I guess I’m thinking about any sort of boy band attempt to do Christmas music: that makes me want to climb the walls.

  68. NDOLLAK said, “As soon as they show off their a capella voice training, or go in the opposite direction and stick those pop singer “dips” in there, the effect is lost.”

    Are you talking about that thing they do where they sort of noodle around the note rather than actually hitting it? I HATE that. It seems like laziness.

  69. The other day, wandering through yet another North American store playing 20th century Christmas “hits” (and music-flavour-of-the-decade covers of these), I had the thought that, back home, at Christmas my mother would put on choir and orchestra versions of carols that were mostly written before the United States existed as a nation state.

    There’s definitely a bias towards 20th C, U.S. – originated, non-religious Christmas pop over here.

    Which is not to judge that kind of music, just to say I’m a lot more comfortable with the pre-20th century stuff, maybe in part because it’s more serious (more minor keys, etc.)

    Oh, and NDollak: “Frosty the Golem”. So. Cool. :)

    154: Buddy66, a few days late, but just in case anyone didn’t bother Googling, it’s … Frosty the Golem!1!!111

    “Wherever there is injustice … I will return to wreak a horrible vengeance upon those who would visit evil upon the chosen Children of God! Beware! For my hands are cold with the icy touch of death!”

  70. The entire 1970 Christmas album by Jose Feliciano is awesome, please don’t confuse it with feliz navidad. Is a classical and jazz album so fantastic in any arrangments of all christmas classics, creative and wonderful in sing and in many instrumental

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