Christmas,  Friday Five

Ickmusic’s Friday Five: December 5, 2008

I've got a feeling we're not in Shuffle anymore.

Welcome to the first week of our “Holiday Edition” of the Friday Five!

As we wind down to the New Year the last four editions of the Friday Five will be shuffled from my vast collection of Holiday music. I encourage everyone to play along and spin up some holiday cheer. With the holiday season being short and the duress of the current economic climate being ever present we could all use a little lift in spirits.

For those who have not joined in the Five, here’s how it works: … I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five with a bit of insight for each track.

Then it’s your turn! Just share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments and see what your fellow readers are listening to as well.

Here are this week’s tracks:

1. The Jackson 5 – Up on the Housetop (from Now That’s What I Call Christmas, Volume 3)

My wife and I were discussing the irony of the bevy of Jackson-related holiday tunes just the other day. I do love this track though.

2. Chuck BerryMerry Christmas Baby (mp3) (from Rockin’ Little Christmas)

As much as I dig this track, “Run Run Rudolph” is far superior. I will say, however, that Springsteen‘s cover of this is on my “Top 10 Recent Christmas Songs”.

3. Vince Guaraldi Trio – Christmas Time Is Here (instrumental) (from A Charlie Brown Christmas)

Nothing captures the holiday ‘feel’ better than the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas.

4. Andy Williams – It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (from Now That’s What I Call Christmas, Volume 3)

I realize it’s the pangs of nostalgia that endear these tunes to our collective conscious but some of these songs are so earnest and true that it’s hard to deny their timelessness.

5. Dean MartinBaby It’s Cold Outside (mp3) (from Christmas With Dino)

Dean Martin was one smooth motherf**ker. Proof positive is the cover of the record that this classic is originally from A Winter Romance where we see a picture of Deano holding a lovely young lady while throwing the “how you doin'” look to another philly nearby. You can clearly deduce that he’s bringing both of these birds back to his chalet for martinis and a three way romp.

Now it’s your turn, what’s getting you in the holiday spirit?


  • Anne

    My 5 ended up being very good, containing a nice wide variety, and starting with a repeat from your list.

    1. “Christmas Time Is Here (Instrumental)”, Vince Guaraldi Trio from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. I am sure that many of us will have songs from this album on their list. I love it.

    2. “We Four Kings (Little Drummer Boy), The Blue Hawaiians. Not your traditional fare but a nice twist.

    3. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” John Mellencamp. I love this song and I love this version.

    4. “Act Li, Tableau 3: No. 10 Scene-The Magic Castle from Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky–album The Nutcracker.

    5. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home”, Mariah Carey.

  • KathyB

    1. “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” by Sixpence None the Richer from “Maybe This Christmas Too?”

    2. “Silent Night” by Sophie B. Hawkins

    3. “Christmas Time Is Here” by Jill Sobule from her web site. Because it’s not Christmas until you listen to Jewish people singing Christmas music. 🙂 Actually, she’s one of my favorite artists, and she offers an ever-changing assortment of freebies on her web site.

    4. “O Little Town of Bethlehem” by Bruce Cockburn from “Christmas” (1993). My favorite holiday album, hands-down.

    5. “Thank God It’s Christmas” by Queen.
    OK…. I’m sure I’m hanging onto this just to listen to when I’m in a certain kind of mood.

  • Cove

    Hey Pete, my collection of Christmas records is larger than most people’s entire record and CD collections, and every year I lug that big box out from the closet and fill up the mantle with them. Here are two lists, one of albums I would call “essential,” and another of essential singles, with many from my home town of New Orleans. I am sorry this is so long but I got carried away!

    Cove’s Favorite Christmas Albums (in no particular order):

    1. Phil Spector’s Christmas Album – an essential for any collection. My old vinyl LP has much better sound than the CD version I purchased later, but either way it’s a classic.
    2. Elvis Presley – If Every Day Was Like Christmas – this is the most complete collection of his Christmas songs I could find.
    3. Emmylou Harris – Light Of the Stable
    4. Joey Ramone – Christmas Sprit . . . In My House – a five-song EP, but it covers the range. I love his versions of Spector’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” “What a Wonderful World,” and the rocking “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight).”
    5. Cyndi Lauper – Merry Christmas . . . Have A Nice Life! – okay, I wasn’t a big fan of anything she did after her first album, but I took a chance with $10 and this is one of the best surprises I have had in music buying. It rocks, it’s funny, it’s sad, it makes you feel the loneliness of winter and the joy of Christmas, all in one album. And only a mother who had a baby in December could have written “December Child”.
    6. Robin and Linda Williams – The First Christmas Gift – some of the finest folk and bluegrass in the land. Their version of Steve Earl’s incredible “Nothing But A Child” is a highlight, as is Roger Miller’s “Old Toy Trains,” as are their originals.
    7. John Prine – Christmas – a classic, when the mood is right for John Prine. Hearing “Christmas in Prison” makes you feel like you have lived it.
    8. Leon Redbone – Christmas Island – I bought this after hearing that New Orleans’ own Dr. John shared vocals on “Frosty”, and the whole thing is good. The title song is the best of the island-themed Christmas songs I have found.
    9. The Tractors – Have Yourself A Tractors Christmas – these guys are so genuine and unassuming that this nothing but is simple, good music, which always finds a place in our CD carousel. Chuck Berry meets country rock under a Christmas tree.
    10. Burl Ives – Have Yourself a Holly Jolly Christmas – Why this, you ask? Because I cannot overcome my childhood. My kids love it like I did as a kid.
    11. Mary Chapin Carpenter – Twelve Songs of Christmas – new in 2008, and a classic. She shares Robin and Linda Williams’ taste in songs, and she wrote many originals for this.
    12. Various – Soul Christmas – on Atlantic records, with Otis, Clarence Carter, the Drifers, Solomon Burke and more.
    13. Various – Christmas Time Back Home – best collection of bluegrass songs, on Rebel Records in Virginia, with Ralph Stanley, the Country Gentlemen, Larry Sparks and more.
    14. Various – A Very Special Christmas – volume 1 of this series is an essential.

    Cove’s Favorite Christmas Singles that don’t appear on the above albums:
    1. Bruce Springsteen – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – If I could have only one Christmas record, this would be it.
    2. Jethro Tull — A Christmas Song – from “Living In The Past,” and a great one in the genre of Christmas protest songs.
    3. David Bowie and Bing Crosby – Peace On Earth / Little Drummer Boy
    4. The Kinks – Father Christmas
    5. Jimmy Buffett – Christmas In The Caribbean
    6. Louis Armstrong – Christmas In New Orleans – available on many old Jazz collections, along with other classics including “Cool Yule” and ‘Zat You, Santa Claus. For years, I put this on my telephone answerphone at Christmas.
    7. George Thorogood – Rock and Roll Christmas b/w New Year’s Eve
    8. Albert King – Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’ – memorable especially when I was up all night one year trying to assemble a dang tricycle.
    9. The Pretenders – 2000 Miles
    10. Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
    11. Allen Toussaint – Creole Christmas – a hard to find classic from a New Orleans master, and as far as I know has never been released on CD.

  • Jim Russell

    Comments on some of the above:

    Cockburn is quickly becoming the voice of Christmas ’round the house. The 1994 radio show is fantastic.

    Redbone’s album is a perennial here. My kids will consider that their childhood Christmas music.

    I must get copies of the Roger Miller tune and the Toussaint album, now that I know about them.

    Okay, let me fire up my Linux command-line shuffle on the /media/music/christmas/ directory and see what the first five are:

    1. Homer and Jethro / Santa Claus, the original hippie (1968, from “Cool Crazy Christmas”) — late ’60s electric country that actually aged pretty well, unlike most hippie-joke songs from that era.

    2. The Clancy Brothers / Jingle bells (Buala bas) (1969, from “Christmas”) — the iconic Irish brothers were riding high in the ’60s after they hit the big time in the New York folk scene. In this track, they sing the chorus in Irish (Gaelic) and the verses in English, whistling, clapping and cat-calling the whole way through.

    3. White Stripes / Candy cane children (2002, single) — Jack White rips off Neil Young guitar riffs and turns them into a bizarre little Christmas tune.

    4. Jon Anderson / The holly and the ivy (1985, from “3 Ships”) — The Yes vocalist’s Christmas album is another heavy-airplay collection around our house. Much more traditional than the usual progressive sound associated with Jon.

    5. Ramsey Lewis Trio / Sleigh ride (1961, from “Sound of Christmas”) — If you love Guaraldi’s “Charlie Brown Christmas” (and I do), go find this album. I have no idea if it ever got released on CD — I ripped my vinyl for this. But Lewis’ piano trio laid the foundation that Vince mined. On this track, they augment the trio with a string arrangement very close to the familiar Ferrante and Teicher track, but then Ramsey takes the piano into some nice improvisational territory.

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