There are 31 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. There are 237 songs in my iTunes Holiday playlist. I'm going to select my favs, one for each day. Here we go....
- Friday, November 25: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan — This is the first song I listen to on the Friday after Thanksgiving each year.
- Saturday, November 26: Christmastime Is Here, Vince Guaraldi Trio
- Sunday, November 27: The Nutcracker Suite, Les Brown & His Band Of Renown — Magic, especially the muted trumpets in the transition after Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (around 2:45 or so).
- Monday, November 28: The Christmas Waltz, She & Him — You'll see a couple of songs from this new album on my list as the days go on. I love Zooey Deschanel's voice and the laid back cadence of their music.
- Tuesday, November 29: Christmas in Hollis, Run D.M.C. — Before A Very Special Christmas, Christmas music at our house meant Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, hymns, the traditional stuff. My parents fell in love with the alt stuff first and we followed.... (Hence the schizophrenic nature of this list. Thanks, Dad!)
- Wednesday, November 30: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Jack Johnson — Lots of versions to choose from here. My boys like this one because Rudolph stands up for himself. My also-rans: Burl Ives, Gene Autry, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, George Strait. And Alvin Stoller's Rudolph Mambo is *a lot* of fun, too. ("What the heck is a maaaaambo???")
- Thursday, December 1: Last Month of the Year, Chris Isaak — So much to love about this one, including the crush-worthy Chris Isaak. (I made Corin listen to this twelve times in a row last year.) If you have time, listen to the next track on the album, Gotta Be Good. Didn't have room for it on the final list this year. Tough decision. (Not available on Spotify? Here it is on YouTube.)
- Friday, December 2: The Coventry Carol (medley), Chet Atkins — The melody is exposed and lovely. Few people could pull it off; Chet Atkins is at the top of the list. I also really like Alison Moyet's take on it, but this Atkins version is timeless.
- Saturday, December 3: This Christmas, Macy Gray — Yeah. You and me, baby.
- Sunday, December 4: The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting), She & Him — I originally had Mel Torme's classic in this spot, but waffled each time I listened to She & Him. Zooey's version ended up winning, but you can't go wrong with Mel or Nat King Cole, either.
- Monday, December 5: Here Comes Santa Claus, The Mills Brothers — Another well-covered tune. Gene Autry, Elvis, and Bing Crosby, for Pete's sake. I like the smooth, Mills Brothers version the best. Regardless of crooner, I can't help but see the police cars swarming the Griswold house in Christmas Vacation when I hear it. Only twenty days left....
- Tuesday, December 6: Christmas All Over Again, Tom Petty — "Aaawwww, baby, it's Chriiiistmas...."
- Wednesday, December 7: Sleigh Ride, The Ronettes — Ring-a-ling-a-ling-a-ding-dong-ding. Many, many to choose from again. This one brings back memories of slow drives through Chicago traffic on holiday weekends, listening to Dick Biondi spin oldies. Nota bene: Did you know Air Supply recorded Sleigh Ride, too?? <sarcasm, Yancey> It has a...nice...little syncopated rhythm in the intro. <end sarcasm>
- Thursday, December 8: Merry Christmas, Baby, Otis Redding — Love Mr. Redding's "Hahaha...." Thanks, Sean, for the deciding vote. (Backstory: I had Bruce Springsteen on my list for this one, but Otis was whispering to me. My fellow musicophile, @seani, came to the rescue and said not to fear the voices in my head....) Now I need to go listen to Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay....
- Friday, December 9: Jingle Bells, Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters — The Andrews Sisters make Bing's magic even better. (The Count Basie version is a strong second.)
- Saturday, December 10: Peace, Norah Jones
- Sunday, December 11: Christmas Night in Harlem, Louis Armstrong — "Ev'ryone will be all lit up like a Christmas tree."
- Monday, December 12: What Christmas Means to Me, Stevie Wonder — "Sing Sweet Silent Night...."
- Tuesday, December 13: Little Saint Nick, The Beach Boys — "Run, run reindeer."
- Wednesday, December 14: Let It Be Christmas, Alan Jackson — I catch myself singing this song throughout the season. Especially while baking, for some weird reason. My guess is Alan Jackson is one of those salt of the earth people who would be wonderful to share a cup of coffee with. And what a voice.... I love all the songs on this list, but I've been especially eager for today's post.
- Thursday, December 15: No Christmas for Me, Zee Avi — The cadence and the vocals. Cute song.
- Friday, December 16: Christmas is Near, Ralph Stanley — Bluegrass Christmas.... Tonight is the beginning of our Christmas vacation. Christmastime is near.
- Saturday, December 17: Have Yourself a Merry Christmas, Ella Fitzgerald — The classic.... And the band....
- Sunday, December 18: Christmas Wrapping, The Waitresses — "That Christmas magic's brought this tale to a very happy ending!" I reserved next week for favorite hymns and meaning-of-Christmas songs, so this is the last day of lighter fare. And I saved my favorite for it. The story in this song had me at hello. Many years ago.
- Monday, December 19: Little Drummer Boy, Ray Charles — Tough decision. Times two. First decision point: Little Drummer Boy or Do You Hear What I Hear? (Pink Martini has an amazing version of each.) I ended up with Little Drummer Boy. So....second decision: Pink Martini or Ray Charles? Listen to both.
- Tuesday, December 20: The First Noel, Emmylou Harris — One of my favorite voices....
- Wednesday, December 21: Christmas Song, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds — The best parts of the Christmas story, told by someone with as many questions as me, accompanied by one of the best guitarists ever.... Listen closely.
- Thursday, December 22: O Holy Night, Martina McBride — For years and years, my mom sang O Holy Night at church on Christmas Eve; it was her favorite song. I miss her. Martina McBride does a beautiful job on a tricky, tricky song to get right and one I'll always hear in my mom's pretty soprano voice. (Ironically, I also like the funky Musiq Soulchild take on it.)
- Friday, December 23: Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song), Amy Grant — "In a world as cold as stone, must I walk this path alone? Be with me now."
- Saturday, December 24: Silent Night, Holy Night, Mahalia Jackson — This was the easiest of all 31 choices. Silent Night is the song of Christmas Eve. Many artists have done it well, but Mahalia's voice is the one that gives me goose bumps. (If you ever have a chance to listen to this on vinyl, grab it....) One day remains.... Merry Christmas Eve.
- Sunday, December 25: Born on Christmas Day, Brad Paisley — This one has a longer comment than the others. Bear with me, folks.... I can't imagine a better song on Christmas Day than one written by a child, in this case a thirteen-year old Brad Paisley. Especially one with an out-of-the-mouths-of-babes verse that knocks me down each time I hear it:
Like Silent Night on Christmas Eve, this song was a natural pick for today...until I realized it wasn't available on Spotify. I struggled for 30 days, trying to decide between using Joy to the World (to stay consistent with Spotify links) or Born on Christmas Day (to stay consistent with songs that make the day).
As often happens, the answer was given. We got in the car last night to head to Christmas Eve service (here are my acolyte babies, lighting candles). Miles pushed the CD button on the stereo for Brad Paisley's Christmas CD. This was nothing new. We've been listening it to it almost daily during the holidays for five years now. What was new? He pushed the seek button to this song. With great purpose, in fact. It's the first time he's not gone straight to James Penguin. And there was my answer.... (Today's link takes you to iTunes, not Spotify.)
I've been surprised, heartened, and humbled each day by how many visitors are checking this list. Merry Christmas.
Here's the link to the full playlist, in order. Warm, musical holiday greetings from our house to yours.