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25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #21 I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday

December 5, 2011 20 comments

When I started doing this list I asked some people whose opinions I trusted if they had any recommendations for Christmas songs. And I got a lot of suggestions, many of which I’ve checked out. Of those, some of them were just very, very far from the kind of thing I would ever say is a great Christmas song. Light-years. But then some were good, and one of them, this one, I heard for the first time today. When it started I said, yeah, this is okay. Then it grew on me, and then it grew on me some more, and before it was over I was saying to myself, “What a great song! Why didn’t anyone ever tell me about this before?”

So let us direct our attention to the centre ring where Roy Wood and Wizzard will perform “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday”.

#25: Sleigh Ride
#24: Huron Carol
#23: Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!/Count Your Blessings/We Wish You a Merry Christmas
#22: The Twelve Days of Christmas

25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #22 The Twelve Days of Christmas

December 4, 2011 22 comments

Another one of my favourites from when I was little was “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, which is essentially the Christmas version of “Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” I guess I was operating under the assumption that “more is better,” which, in modified form, continues to be one of my basic guiding principles.

Yeah, it can be tiresome if you’re not into it, but then maybe all you need is the right performance, and I don’t know what performance is righter than the one from the John-Denver-and-the-Muppets Christmas special.

So give a big internet welcome to John Denver and the Muppets.

#25: Sleigh Ride
#24: Huron Carol
#23: Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!/Count Your Blessings/We Wish You a Merry Christmas

25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #23 Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!/Count Your Blessings/We Wish You a Merry Christmas

December 3, 2011 27 comments

When I was a kid my parents had a couple of Christmas albums by the Ray Conniff Singers. The contents ranged from cheesy to not bad. My sister has said that, for her, Ray Conniff is what Christmas sounds like. But the one that sticks with me (the one that made me track the album down on CD years later!) is the medley of “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”, “Count Your Blessings”, and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.

I know that at the time, “Let It Snow…” was my favourite Christmas song. Not sure why it was. It isn’t now; it’s just one of many acceptable songs. And “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” is neither here nor there, although I am surprised to find out how old it is. Sixteenth century! No, the one that gets to me now is “Count Your Blessings,” which is the least known of the three; it was written for the movie White Christmas but is much better here. The thing about this song for me is, well, it plays on my weak spots.

One time two friends and I were talking, and this one friend asked the two of us what our thoughts were about marriage. We’re both married, see, with kids, and he’s not, and he was wondering if it was actually something we would recommend to him. And we did. But I said that one problem with it was that you’re giving hostages to fortune. You now have these people in your life that you not only care about but that you have to care about, and therefore you’re opening yourself up to how terrible it would be if anything happened to them. And there’s nothing to be done about that.

And my other friend said, basically, yeah, but you also get to share in their joys and triumphs and stuff, so you actually come out ahead on that.

Which had never occurred to me.

Not only hadn’t it occurred to me, it doesn’t even work for me. Not that I don’t enjoy watching my kids have fun or I’m not proud when my wife does something awesome again. I do and I am. But deep down I’m paranoid that something’s going to take it all away.

So that’s why the song’s so poignant for me: it’s giving me advice that I know I need and I know I’m incapable of following. This is just me, you understand; I don’t suggest that your reaction to it would or should be anything like mine. But it’s a good song.

Anyway, I give you the Ray Conniff Singers.

#25: Sleigh Ride
#24: Huron Carol

25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #24 Huron Carol

December 2, 2011 23 comments

Next toy out of the bag is the Huron Carol, sometimes known as “‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime”. Because Canada, that’s why. This is an old one; wikipedia tells us that it’s been around for more than three and a half centuries. I don’t know about a definitive version; check ’em out yourself. I will draw your attention to the Nylons rendition of it on their A Wish for You Christmas album, though; they go all spoken-word on the “Children of the forest…” part and it’s cool.

#25: Sleigh Ride

25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #25 Sleigh Ride

December 1, 2011 23 comments

So I have it in mind to count down the definitive list of the greatest 25 Christmas songs. (As determined by the scientific method of coming up with a list off the top of my head.)

The first item up for bid is “Sleigh Ride”, by anybody you like. Because here’s the thing about “Sleigh Ride”: I’ve never heard a bad version of the song. It seems to be pretty hard for musicians to mess up; you can get just about anybody to do it and it’ll come out okay. (There’s another Christmas song that shares this property, and we’ll get to it a bit later in the month.) (The wikipedia entry for “Sleigh Ride” says that it’s been done by a broader range of performers than any other song “in the history of western music.”)

One thing I like about it is that it’s sort of a vocal instrumental. The lyrics come at you so fast, tumbling over each other, that it almost doesn’t matter what they are; it just matters what they sound like. But if you can pick them out, they’re just as Christmassy as ever you please, even if they don’t specify Christmas. I give you Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride”.