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25 Greatest Christmas Songs Countdown: #2 Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

December 24, 2011 1 comment

I’m tempted to put this one higher. Number one. That’s how great it is. But the problem with it is (and it’s the same for yesterday’s song, with which it actually has some things in common) that it’s largely about romantic love, which certainly has its place at Christmastime, but is not the main attraction of Christmas.

Chances are you’re familiar with the U2 version of this song. I’m not here to pick a fight with U2; they did a perfectly good job. There’s nothing wrong with their rendition at all. Darlene Love’s just better at this than they are, that’s all.

Darlene Love was one of the great soul singers of her time. She never got the fame that usually comes with a description like that (although she did okay) so it’s possible that you only know her from playing Trish Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon movies. She was the real thing, though, and she really gets her shoulder behind this song, to an extent perhaps unsurpassed in the human history of singing.

Close your eyes and listen to Darlene Love, backed by Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, unleashing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” upon you.

#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)
#7: Christmas Wrapping
#6: Silver Bells
#5: O Holy Night
#4: Carol of the Bells
#3: All I Want for Christmas Is You

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