I (Micah) am a notorious Scrooge when it comes to Christmas music. The fact that they day after Thanksgiving retail stores, friends and entire radio stations begin playing exclusively Christmas music makes me absolutely nauseous just thinking about it.
I’m told; by retail stores, friends and radio stations (and my wife) that this makes me a Scrooge. C’mon, what the heck is a jingle horse anyways?
There are a handful of holiday or Christmas songs that I do actually like. In no particular order:
1. Handel “Messiah” (HWV 56)-Some would say this is a cheat, considering it’s an entire work, and not a song per se but those people probably are singing “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” right now. Every year when I was growing up, we would listen to “Messiah” as we decorated the Christmas tree with my family. Usually it would consist of my brother and I trying to sing “The sheep have gone a stray-ay-ay-a-ay-ay-ay-a-aaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy” until our lungs collapsed. Seriously though, this is some amazing stuff. I’m surprised to find out that people actually have sing-alongs with this piece around Christmas.
2. The Beach Boys “Little Saint Nick”-Who says there hasn’t been a good Christmas song written in the last 50 years? Not me. I love the Beach Boys Christmas album and “Little Saint Nick” is the best cut off of the album. Mike Love’s fantastic lead vocals on a song written specifically for this album by Brian Wilson? Epic. I love the “Run, run reindeer” part. Plus, you get to look at amazing cover art like this:
3. Vince Guaraldi Trio “Christmas Time Is Here”-The saddest Christmas song of all time? Perhaps. I love Charlie Brown, and I love the music for the Charlie Brown shows too. The Vince Guaraldi Trios instrumental version of this song kills me. Right amount of sadness, but a great trio arrangement with lightly brushed snare drum by Jerry Granelli and tasteful bass playing by Fred Marshall.
4. Duke Ellington Orchestra “Sacred Concerts”- Not strictly Christmas music, but a real good substitute to be sure. Duke Ellington said that these concerts were the most important things he had ever done. I love this mix of jazz and traditional religious music. Every year, the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra performs these pieces and it’s not to be missed for you Seattle area peeps. Here’s a great video of Duke himself performing with Jon Hendricks and Bunny Briggs. Wait until 5 minutes in when Briggs goes absolutely nuts:
5. The Superions “Santa’s Disco”-I couldn’t in my right mind make a list of my top 5 Christmas songs without something amazingly tacky and horrifyingly wonderful. That voice right? Umm…Mr. Fred Schneider of the B52s has a side project called the Superions. They’ve released their Christmas album and I think “Santa’s Disco” is a hit. Where else could you hear references to Mrs. Claus as a cage dancer? Enjoy: