“Can I have a Red Ryder BB gun?”
“You’ll put your eye out. How about a Springsteen album?”
It seems I’m not alone in seeking holiday music that’s a bit off the beaten path! Al Kooper, the famed producer and keyboardist, hosts a blog called “New Music For Old People”. I’ve mentioned it before but it’s worth a second mention as Al has taken on holiday music that we don’t hear too much of. The operative phrase here is “too much”. I’ve stolen a couple from Al’s recent selections and added a few of my own.
For myself, I owe it to having an ongoing desire to listen to music, throughout the entire year, that is new and in unchartered territory (that is, for me). There is a lot of music out there in the world and whether you’re spinning classical, screamo, heavy metal, bluegrass, or hip-hop…it’s all good if you like it. If it moves you, calms you, makes you get up and swivel your hips like Elvis or just makes you enjoy the holiday more..great.
I’ve added a few tunes that don’t directly pertain to the holidays. Think of them as being “year-round holiday tunes”. You get the idea…
- “Peace” – Michael McDonald – As noted, Mr. McDonald could probably sing from the phone book (remember those?) and make the Billboard charts. This is a beautiful song that hits the holiday sentiment perfectly. MM sings it, as he always does, with grace and style.
- “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” – Jimmy Boyd. This is a song that’s been, of course, covered a lot. I included this here because it’s the original version. It hit #1 on the Billboard charts in December 1952. It was commissioned by the NY department store “Saks Fifth Avenue”.
- “When Was Jesus Born?” (aka “Last Month of the Year”) – Blind Boys of Alabama. I have a couple of the Blind Boys’ releases but this is the first time I’ve heard them do Christmas music. As always, these guys know how to get down into a groove. They absolutely cook.
- “The Christmas Song” – Victor Wooten. I first came across Victor when I saw Bela Fleck in concert. VW is an incredible bass player and the sounds he gets out of his bass are just incredible – a virtual one man band. A nod to Al Kooper for sending me toward this version. Wow!
- “Jingle Bells” – Booker T.and the MG’s. Did you have any doubts that Booker would know how to swing a holiday tune? I didn’t! 8-) The famed house band for Stax records with the recently departed Duck Dunn on bass, Willie Hall behind the kit, and Mister Steve Cropper on guitar, they lay down a groove on this one.
- “Chanukah in Santa Monica” – Tom Lehrer – Another nod to Al for this one. Tom Lehrer (born: 1928) had a string of satirical and humorous hits back in the ’50’s and ’60’s. A native New Yorker, Tom holds a degree in mathematics from Harvard and was known his somewhat dark humor.
- “The Twelve Days of Christmas” – Allan Sherman. As long as I’m introducing some humourous holiday tunes I had to go out with Allan Sherman. Hilarious commentary throughout by the master….and a Japanese transistor radio!