Brian J. is undoubtedly correct that the Charlie Brown Christmas album is the best. Because what are holidays without music so full of delicate, wistful>"/>
Brian J. is undoubtedly correct that the Charlie Brown Christmas album is the best. Because what are holidays without music so full of delicate, wistful magic that you're tempted to slit your wrists? There are some other contenders, though. I'd like to nominate the following albums and songs. Yeah, there are some obvious choices here, but tradition is about doing the obvious thing.
Sleigh Ride- The Ronettes
The most insanely perky song ever, given the full, glorious Phil Spector treatment.
Even when I despised BNL in the 90s when they made all that cutesy frat rock. their well-polished pop song craft could not be denied. And they're much more listenable now that they're old and depressed and still have that song craft fully intact. This Christmas album is actually sort of obnoxious and pushy, but in a cheerful way, like that one guest who's drunker than anyone else. It has their characteristic pristine production, so you can hear every snap of the snare and every crisply plucked string. (Irrelevant aside: Why do great song-writing bands like Dr. Dog so often pour low-fi gravy all over their recordings?)
So funny you might cry. I never get tired of this song. Its perfection gives me goosebumps.
It was Christmas in prison and the food was real good
We had turkey and pistols carved out of wood
(Couldn't find the original online. The above link is to a cover)
On this album, my girlfriend turns her shamelessly soft rock production style and creamy voice to a selection of traditional tunes. Plenty of that wrist-slashing holiday sadness here, especially on a stunning version of "Whatever Happened to Christmas?"
In the meadow we can build a snowman
And pretend that he is Allan Parsons.
It's not really Christmas until I hear this song while stuck in traffic and burst into tears. I'm not one of those anti-Paul people (as my former boss says, it makes no sense to take sides, because there can't be one without the other, like there's no up without down), but it's undeniable that John wrote one of the best Xmas songs ever and Paul wrote the worst.
Rare! A little tossed-off fragment of a song, but still a full-power blast Beatlesness.
While setting out to mock the season, they seem to get carried away into a genuine sense of joy. Pure pop pleasure.
They didn't exactly kill themselves over the lyrics to this ("Here comes the jackpot question in advance"?), but the delivery is so sweet and understated that this tune slides on greased rails into the pleasure center of your boozy, late-night brain.
Very different from the (awesome) rocking version by Costello, this is another non-holiday song that deserves to be one, as performed recently by the genius who wrote it.
Doesn't Aaron Neville have a Christmas album? He must. I'm sure it's great.
Jazzy Christmas songs are a torment. "God Bless Ye, Merry Jazzmen"? Ugh, kill me now. Miles Davis apparently agreed, recording this pitch black piece of bah humbug to antagonize his label, and slapping the "So What" riff on top. Fascinating trivia: Bob Dorough is the voice behind Schoolhouse Rock.
Again, not a holiday song. It SOUNDS like one though, it's so lush and gorgeous. And you can easily change the lyrics in your mind to "Christmas By Golly Wow!"
Another tasty slice of that wistful holiday sadness thing. Holy God can that woman ever sing.
The Sonics recorded two other Christmas songs, Don't Believe in Christmas (ripping off Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business") and Village Idiot, which seeks to revive the wonderful holiday tradition of mocking retarded people. But nothing can touch the fuzztastic brilliance of this cut. It's also a good chaser for all that wistfulness, which, like butterscotch schnapps, can very quickly become too much of a good thing.