Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Lists - Favorite Songs

I love Christmas music, not that I'm singing Jingle Bells in July or anything, but as Christmas approaches I look forward to hearing Gene Autry, Bing Crosby, Bobby Helms and the rest. I start tuning in radio stations that have an 'all Christmas' format (but for Pete's sake can't we wait until the day AFTER Thanksgiving??) and pulling out my favorite Christmas Cd's.

So without further ado, my favorite Christmas songs:
(in no particular order)

1. White Christmas - I prefer the classic Bing Crosby recording, but also enjoy the Drifters version, no others need apply.

2. Holly Jolly Christmas - I love hearing Burl Ives and only Burl Ives sing this song from 1964's Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

3. The Christmas Song - Even though this song was co-written by legendary singer Mel Torme, nobody has ever sang this song better than Nat King Cole, who actually recorded the song on 4 separate occasions. Cole's 4th recording, done in 1961, is perhaps the most widely known version of this Christmas classic.

4. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Although others have sang it, notably Frank Sinatra and James Taylor, it was first done and made famous by Judy Garland who sang it in 1944's Meet Me In St. Louis.

5. Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms 1957 Christmas classic is both a perennial favorite and to me a matched set for number 6.

6. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee was just 13 when she recorded this perfect rock n' roll Christmas song. Oddly it wouldn't be until 1960 that the song really caught on, but once it did, it became an instant classic.

7. Pretty Paper - Although the song's author Willie Nelson would eventually record the song himself, Pretty Paper was first recorded by the legendary Roy Orbison. So the story goes that Orbison's producer flew to England, where the singer was on tour, to have him record this only to find the Big O suffering from a cold! Resting until he was needed to sing, Orbison was able to complete the recording session for this melancholy Christmas ballad.

8. Sleigh Ride - Let's give the singers a break and listen to Leroy Anderson's incredible Sleigh Ride. Written by Anderson in 1948 as an instrumental piece (words were later written by Mitchell Parish), Sleigh Ride was first recorded by the Boston Pops but Anderson himself recorded the song in 1950 and again with the better known stereo version in 1959. Complete with jingling bells, cracking whips, and horse clopping there is nothing quite so grand as a sleigh ride

9. Silver Bells - Thank Bob Hope for this Christmas standard. It was he who insisted that his movie The Lemon Drop Kid, set during the Christmas holiday needed an original Christmas song. The studio agreed but the songwriters thought there were no original Christmas songs left to write! Finding inspiration in a silver bell on one of their desks, they were able to craft this song of Christmas in the city.

10. Do You Hear What I Hear? - Like Silver Bells and White Christmas, Do You Hear What I Hear? is another song that Bing Crosby helped make a holiday classic. It was written as a "prayer for peace" and recorded by Crosby on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

1 comment:

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