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25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #7 Christmas Wrapping

December 19, 2011 6 comments

Getting down toward the end of the list now, and I’m kind of stuck. I know what the top, oh, five songs are, but I’ve used up most of the other ones I need to include. So that leaves me with this little number, which I had actually never heard until last year, although I had heard of it, and which I kind of wanted to include. It isn’t really like any other Christmas song I’ve ever heard of.

Really wordy, isn’t it? But you have to love the horns.

Don’t forget to tip the Waitresses and their song, “Christmas Wrapping“.

#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
#21: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
#20: Fuck Christmas
#19: Jingle Bell Rock
#18: What’s This? & Making Christmas
#17: Oi! To the World
#16: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
#15: Blue Christmas
#14: Christmas in Hollis
#13: We Need a Little Christmas
#12: Marshmallow World
#11: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
#10: Step Into Christmas
#9: Jingle Bells
#8: Christmas Comes But Once a Year (Christmas in Carrick)

25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown #8 Christmas Comes But Once a Year (Christmas in Carrick)

December 18, 2011 7 comments

At some point somebody recommended to me that I pick up the Barra MacNeils’ Christmas album. (The Barra MacNeils, if you haven’t heard of them, are a Cape Breton family who does Celtic music.) I did so. And it’s excellent; one of the best Christmas albums I have. They’ve done a second Christmas album since then, and it’s good too, but nowhere near as good as the first. The standout tracks are “Christmas in Killarney,” “Carol of the Bells,” and this one.

Which I looked up online, to see if I could come to some kind of insight from seeing the lyrics in front of me. I couldn’t, but I did notice one thing. Every place I see the lyrics, there’s one line that’s different. Here are the different takes on it that I found:

“Who cares if we work tomorrow? Now’s the time to spread good cheer,”
“All cares are put for tomorrow, now’s the time to spread good cheer,”
“Who cares if we’re poor tomorrow? Now’s the time to spread good cheer,”

None of which are what the Barra MacNeils sing. They get right to what I suppose is the point:

“Who cares if there’s no tomorrow? Now’s the time to spread good cheer,
Pass the punch around the table; Christmas comes but once a year,”

Greet some strangers as you pass in honour of the Barra MacNeils and “Christmas Comes But Once a Year (Christmas in Carrick)“.

#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
#21: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
#20: Fuck Christmas
#19: Jingle Bell Rock
#18: What’s This? & Making Christmas
#17: Oi! To the World
#16: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
#15: Blue Christmas
#14: Christmas in Hollis
#13: We Need a Little Christmas
#12: Marshmallow World
#11: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
#10: Step Into Christmas
#9: Jingle Bells

25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #9 Jingle Bells

December 17, 2011 8 comments

Then there was the time we went to the Santa Claus Parade in downtown Toronto. Every marching band, every float… they were all playing “Jingle Bells”. Bo-ring. (Except these guys; they gave us “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” and they put a lot of zazz into it.) I mean, come on; is there any one of us who hasn’t heard “Jingle Bells” ten thousand times? And doesn’t need to hear it ever again? You’re going to be in this big parade, and you can pick just about any Christmas song you want… and you pick “Jingle Bells”?

However.

The Barenaked Ladies have saved “Jingle Bells”. In their hands it’s an interesting song again. They way they did it is, they threw in everything but the kitchen sink, they brought back all the later stanzas that hardly anybody ever sings, they sang the song every way they could think of to sing it, they made it sound like a loungey song and a Christmas song and a racing song all at the same time. It’s the only version of “Jingle Bells” you’ll ever need.

Pour the cat some eggnog and give three shouts and a tiger to the Barenaked Ladies and “Jingle Bells.”

#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
#21: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
#20: Fuck Christmas
#19: Jingle Bell Rock
#18: What’s This? & Making Christmas
#17: Oi! To the World
#16: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
#15: Blue Christmas
#14: Christmas in Hollis
#13: We Need a Little Christmas
#12: Marshmallow World
#11: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
#10: Step Into Christmas

25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #10 Step into Christmas

December 16, 2011 9 comments

I think this was the first modern Christmas song I ever really liked. If so, it probably started the process that changed me from someone who listened to Christmas music when it was on to someone who was actually interested in it.

And, you know how you can like a song for a while, and listen to it a lot, but then get kind of sick of it and don’t want to hear it so much anymore? Like, you still kinda like it, but now you want to like it without listening to it all the time? That didn’t happen to me with this song. It still works.

Remain standing for Elton John and “Step Into Christmas.” The admission, I hasten to remind you, is free.

#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
#21: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
#20: Fuck Christmas
#19: Jingle Bell Rock
#18: What’s This? & Making Christmas
#17: Oi! To the World
#16: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
#15: Blue Christmas
#14: Christmas in Hollis
#13: We Need a Little Christmas
#12: Marshmallow World
#11: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #11 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

December 15, 2011 10 comments

25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #12 Marshmallow World

December 14, 2011 11 comments

Coincidentally I’m doing this list at the same time that my co-author Chris Sims is doing a similar one at his site. And already there’s been some overlap between the two. (There will be more.) One difference I thought I could count on was that I didn’t care about “Marshmallow World” while he thought it was great.

Because the version of “Marshmallow World” I knew best is the Darlene Love version from the Phil Spector Christmas album. And that never did a lot for me. I mean, Darlene Love’s great and everything, but the song sounds rushed, like they were racing to the end of it, and it just doesn’t knock me over.

I had forgotten about the Kim Stockwood version.

When Kim Stockwood sings it, she takes it easy, and the lyrics don’t whip by you, and it’s a good time all around. It’s a fun song! Who knew. Listening to Darlene Love, you hardly notice the lyrics, and that’s too bad. Other good thing about the Stockwood cover is the oddly ominous opening, like the world’s about to end; wonder what’s going on with that. (And she takes control of the song with a lot more assurance than Sinatra and Martin.) Give it up for Kim Stockwood’s “Marshmallow World“.

#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
#21: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
#20: Fuck Christmas
#19: Jingle Bell Rock
#18: What’s This? & Making Christmas
#17: Oi! To the World
#16: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
#15: Blue Christmas
#14: Christmas in Hollis
#13: We Need a Little Christmas

25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #13 We Need a Little Christmas

December 13, 2011 12 comments

Chances are decent you’ve seen this xkcd cartoon by now. It is certainly true that the Christmas music of that period, say ’40s through ’60s, has stuck with us pretty good. I’ve hit a few of those songs on this list so far–“Let it Snow…”, “Blue Christmas,” etc. To me, though, the ones I’ve touched on don’t seem to be of their era the way, say, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is.

But here’s one that does. It’s from the musical Mame, apparently, from the mid-’60s, but I mostly know the Muppets version of it, which won me over mostly for the way they lean on the lyric, “from that evergreen bough”. It feels like exactly the same kind of Christmas song as “Holly Jolly Christmas”.

Pick out your own favourite version, though. I think Andy Williams covered it too. (Probably inevitable, really.) Hang some tinsel for the act of your choice performing “We Need a Little Christmas.”

#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
#21: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
#20: Fuck Christmas
#19: Jingle Bell Rock
#18: What’s This? & Making Christmas
#17: Oi! To the World
#16: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
#15: Blue Christmas
#14: Christmas in Hollis