Off-the-beaten-path holiday songs

Now that Thanksgiving is past, I do hope you have your holiday playlist looping 24/7. I love Christmas music. It just makes me happy. I’m very strict about not playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving (RESPECT for the best holiday of the year) but I will happily play Bing and Nat and even the Carpenters clear until Valentine’s Day. Of course there are the classics–Ave Maria and Silent Night, Bing Crosby and Johnny Mathis  and such–but I have a fondness in my heart for some lesser-known seasonal carols and musicians. Here’s a list of ten that you can check out right now at the Orem Library.

I ‘d Like You for Christmas by Julie London: Oh, Julie London. I’ve heard this song described as makeout music for the holidays, and it’s accurate. She’s got a mid-century sultry thing going on, so use this for your “Christmas with Bae” mixtape. Or checkout the Christmas Cocktails CD for your mid-mod holiday get-togethers.

Corn, Water and Wood by Michael Martin Murphey: I’ve always wanted to have a Cowboy Christmas Ball, inspired by the one Michael Martin Murphey imagines. But until I’m two-steppin’ round the Christmas tree, I’ll just enjoy this Southwest interpretation of the wise men bringing gifts to the “source of all that is good.”

The First Noel by John Fahey: When I was a tiny kid, my Uncle Lanny and Aunt Evelyn would sing “Angels we have heard on high” in a perfect harmony while he played his guitar. This is probably responsible for my incessant begging right up until my eighth birthday when my parents bought me my first guitar. This one by John Fahey, an acoustic guitar arrangement, reminds me of those days. Perfect, calming, Christmas music.

Big Bulbs  by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings: Sharon Jones is just fun.She conjures up that holiday delight you feel as the lights start appearing on trees and in windows. I dare you not to love this whole album. Where that party at?

Holy, Holy, Holy  by Sufjan Stevens: I thought about putting O Come, O Come Emmanuel on here instead (I play that one year-round, guilt-free), but Holy, Holy, Holy makes the list this time. A lovely, lilting version with just the right amount of wistfulness for a Stevens version.

Merry Christmas, Baby by Otis Redding: I just really, really love Otis Redding. This one’s definitely getting some airtime in my holiday playlist.

Blue Christmas by She and Him: I don’t like everybody’s version of this Elvis classic, but something about Zooey Deschanel’s voice harks back to the rockabilly roots of this song, as it should.

Home for Christmas by Roger Whittaker: This one reminds me of the kind of thing my grandparents would have enjoyed in their little house where we all gathered every single Christmas Eve of my childhood.  Except that one  where my siblings and I were sidelined by chicken pox. Worst. Holiday. Ever. My grandparents are gone for many years now, but play a song like this and I can imagine them here again with us at Christmas time.

Riu, Riu, Chiu by the King’s Singers. If you have not discovered the King’s Singers yet, now is the time. They are ridiculously good. And, if you’re local, they drop in on Utah every once in a while, and if you get a chance to hear them live, you really should take it. 

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Jewel: Almost all of my littles at one point or another have fallen in love with a Christmas Jingle and demanded it be sung before bed year-round. Rudolph is a popular choice. This version is short and simple–just two part harmony, some sleighbells, and some children’s choir. Catchy and cute.


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