Its Thanksgiving. I was toying around with the notion of writing the traditional "I'm thankful for..." post, however I have decided to forgo this option. Don't get me wrong, there are things I am extremely grateful for. And I could actually make a list that is quite extensive. But for right now, I'm thinking about something else entirely.
It's almost Christmas!!
I have to admit, I get pretty exited for the holidays. I don't get as excited as Costco does (after all, they break out the Christmas decorations around freaking Halloween). For me, the official start of the Holiday season begins with Thanksgiving. Its like some sort of starting line for a marathon of cheer and good will, culminating with the festivities of New Year's Eve.
But I love the Holidays. People are generally in a better mood at the Holidays. Except of course, for those who are shopping on Black Friday and fighting over the next big thing. Those people are generally miserable. Fortunately for me, I never go out for the Black Friday sales, so I never have to deal with those people. And so, I can rely on my idea that people are generally in a better mood during the holidays, even on that day.
So how do I start celebrating Christmas? What do I do to start getting in the holiday mood?
I start with Christmas music. I love Christmas music. However, people seem to think its somewhat socially unacceptable to listen to it prior to Thanksgiving. But there appears to be an unwritten rule that says as soon as the Presidential Turkey is pardoned a person can play Christmas music without fear of retribution, or at the least, weird looks. So it is with every year I start looking forward to the time when I can break out the Christmas play list.
Now the catalog of music out there, focusing on the holidays, is extensive (which is really quite an understatement). So, in order to help narrow the field a bit, I will be providing to my top 10 favorites, and why these musical selections have managed to make the list.
Special note here: These are some of my favorites. Certainly, not all of them. And while I have labeled them my favorite 10, I have not numbered them, because they are not in any particular order.
Without further ado, I present my 10 Favorite Christmas Songs:
Baby It's Cold Outside, as performed by Zoey Deschanel and Leon Redbone. Originally written by Frank Loesser, for he and his wife to perform, the rights to this song were later sold to MGM in 1948. Since then, the song has been performed and recorded in numerous venues and performances. My favorite, though, happened to come from a Will Ferral movie: Elf. I generally hate Will Ferral. I think he's an idiot. And probably the only reason the song makes my list (given its questionable appearance in a Will Ferral movie) is Mr. Ferral has absolutely nothing to do with the soundtrack version. Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone. Stupendous. Really. And even though it never makes a reference to Christmas or the holiday season in general, it certain evokes the feeling garnered from a warm fire on a cold night, a warm drink and someone to share it all with. And what more can a person ask for from the holidays?
Silent Night, as performed by Sarah McLachlan. First off, we take a Christmas classic. Regardless of your religious beliefs, its a beautiful song. Top it off with Sarah, and you have the makings of something so much more. I admit, I have a bit of a thing for Sarah. Whats not to like? She's beautiful, her music is addicting, and her voice is dead sexy. So how can you go wrong? She approaches this piece of music with the utmost respect and reverence. And I'll say, once you hear it, you'll be wondering two things: 1 - Why had you never heard this before? 2 - Where can you get it? Try the winter collection EP, titled "Wintersong." You won't be disappointed.
Good King Wencelas, as performed by Loreena Mckennitt. The story of the good king goes like this: King Wencelas and his page go out on St. Stephen's Day (hence, the Feast of Stephen) to feed and clothe the poor, and provide them the warmth of a fire. However, it is cold and walking through the snow the page almost gives up, urging his master to go on without him. However, the king comforts him, and miraculously the page finds warmth by walking the footsteps of the king and is able to go on. Obviously laced with Christian undertones of charity and religious lessons on faith, and simply look at people in the selfless service of others. And what's not to like about that? As a further note, Loreena's album, The Visit is one of my favorites. If you have the chance, you check it out.
The Little Drummer Boy, as performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. First off, we are not here to debate religious beliefs. But, religious beliefs aside, one can hardly argue that the Tabernacle Choir is something to behold. This particular piece is performed with very little musical accompaniment, and is simply fantastic. I suppose, once again, the message is laced with religious undertones, but hey, its Christmas, so why not? I'm sure we all have, at times, felt like we needed to give something of worth to someone, and felt like all we could give was not enough. However, should we all give what we can, and do in earnest, then gift itself really doesn't matter.
Carol of the Bells, as performed by George Winston. Mr. Winston, a famous pianist, is probably most notably known for his for albums titled Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. Each contains piano pieces centered on music and themes that embody the season he is looking to represent. Mr. Winston was pioneer in the genre that would later be know as New Age. The Carol of Bells, dating back to 1916, is performed by Mr. Winston perfectly. If you have ever heard the carol sung by a choir, as it was originally meant to be, you can't help but appreciate this presentation, and respect his ability to present it.
O Holy Night, as performed by Celtic Women. Again, classic and timeless. I also have a certain afility for celtic-type music. The afore mentioned Loreena McKennitt is one of my favorites, and so when I happened accross this version of the hymn, I couldn't help but make sure it was part of my Christmas Play List. At one point, the women of this group hit a crescendo as they say, "Fall, on your knees. O hear angels voices. O night, divine." Chilling. Stirring. And just plain good.
Happy Xmas (War is Over), as performed by Sarah McLachlan. First off, I don't see anything wrong with a repeat performer making my list. And once again, it's Sarah, and once again I say, her voice is dead sexy. John Lennon wrote this song in 1971. An instant Christmas classic from the former Beatle. Many years later, Sarah redoes the song. Its presentation is nearly identical to John's, obviously not wanting to intrude on the legacy of such a man. And here, between Sarah's and John's version of the song, my preference is nothing more than my preference. This one can be found on Wintersong as well, a celebration of Christmas and a plea for world peace all in one.
Little Saint Nick, as performed by The Beach Boys. Come on, really? What list of favorites would be complete without the Beach Boys? Released in 1963, the Wilson's were at the top of their game. Churning out songs about muscle cars, surfing and girls, who would have thought the guys could create an instant holiday classic? But Brian and the guys were quite arguably the best American group of the time. Perfect harmonies backed by a surfer's attitude, they guys even managed to throw a shout-out to Saint Nick. Well played, guys. Well played.
Feliz Navidad, as performed by Jose Feliciano. Who doesn't like this song? Its interesting to me, as to what makes a Christmas song a classic. What makes it that song that everyone looks to hear when driving through town looking at Christmas lights. Jose knew. Feliz Navidad, Jose. Feliz Navidad.
Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy, as performed by David Bowie and Bing Crosby. Bing had a career that spanned 50 years, and his unique baritone voice made him one the best selling recording artists of all time. David Bowie is no slouch in the recording world either. Combing one of the best America had to offer with an incredibly talented British rocker and you end up with a rather surprising experiment now famous the world over. Giving the fact these two musicians are so talented in the particular genres, its a wonder they were able to sit at the piano and mesh so seamlessly.
This aired on a Christmas special with Bing Crosby in 1977. I was born only a year prior to this. While I certainly have no memory of its original airing, I watch it and listen to it every single year.
So there you have it. Every one of these selections is on my play list. And every year, about this time, You can hop into my truck and there is a good bet you are going to hear one of the above either playing or at the least, cued up.
Up next in my preperation for Christmas? Tree shopping.