Where I Reveal my Holiday Playlist
We’re in the Christmas season. Every year, I compile a Christmas song list — just a set of songs that make me happy to listen to.
The only real rule I make for myself is probably the most antiquated – everything needs to fit on a single CD – because, when I started this, I was a broke bachelor, and these made for cheap Christmas presents.
I’m always looking for new & different takes of traditional tunes, and I try to keep a mix of newish stuff and true classics. In the time after December, if I hear a song and want to hear it again, immediately, it “makes the cut.” I take all of the songs that did make the cut, and then try to whittle them down to a single CD.
Some songs will always be on the list – some will make it one year, get cut the next, and then re-appear . . . and, it seems that whenever I release this, I find the “I must listen to this song until my ears bleed” Christmas tune – if things go right, I’ll remember it next year.
Alas, this year’s list:
- The Killers, “Boots” — I have a growing fascination with this band — and it’s rare for me to really get “into” a band. But, I love The Killers . . . and this song, starting dark & working itself into something cheery – well, it suits me just swell.
- U2, “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” — It’s a peppy song, and it was featured in Gremlins, which is one of my all-time-favorite Christmas movies (this should not surprise you)
- Transsiberian Orchestra, “Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12-24” — Come on, heavy metal guitar riffs? A necessity for any/all holiday play lists
- The Waitresses, “Christmas Wrapping” — Christmas needs more sex & snark . . . The Waitresses deliver.
- Band Aid, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” — Just watch the video – the awesomeness abounds.
- Sting, “Gabriel’s Message” — Just a haunting version, with a hint of an edge.
- Barenaked Ladies & Sarah McLachlan, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen / We Three Kings” — happy happy happy . . . and Sarah is my cousin, so there’s that.
- John Lennon & Yoko Ono, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” — Part of me thinks that John penned this just to say that there could be awesome Christmas songs written by The Beatles – because we know a certain song by a certain Paul who was a Beatle is really, really bad. I love the message.
- Mumford & Sons, “Come, Thou Font of Every Blessing” — Much like I’ve discovered an obsession with the Killers, I love Mumford & Sons – I mean, we need more banjo in popular music . . . we need a LOT more banjo in popular music. This hymn is not the typical over-the-top, but musically restrained number they do, but conservative all around. This is the type of hymn that would be commonplace in the Church of Daddy Runs a Lot.
- Belle & Sebastian, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” — I stumbled upon this song (note, this is an Advent song, not a Christmas song, but, well, it’s actually Advent as I’m writing this). I used to think this hymn should only ever be done as a chant – this version changed my mind (most choirs, unfortunately, butcher this – even the good ones)
- Tracy Chapman, “O Holy Night” — In my opinion, the best voice in modern music singing the most beautiful Christmas hymn. It’s a glorious pairing.
- Bing Crosby & David Bowie, “Peace on Earth / Little Drummer Boy” — while the “Funny or Die” parody of this is equally worthy of a watch, it’s David Bowie trying to be “mainstream” and Bing Crosby, just before his death and still at the top of his game.
- Stephen Colbert & Elvis Costello, “There Are Much Worse Things To Believe In” — this is becoming my favorite Christmas song . . . it’s Colbert, so there’s a real snark about it, and it seems like a “throwaway” song at the beginning . . . and then it gets terribly sincere – honestly, it’s a message we should all hold close to us during the season.
- John Denver & The Muppets, “The 12 Days of Christmas” — because Muppets. That is all.