Many years ago in a galaxy far, far away, (well, I guess it was only two years ago), I came up with a list of oddball holiday songs that no one may have heard of.
This season, I’m going to throw down a list of songs that we would actually want to hear.
Truth be told, the list of performers that have not done a holiday album or song would be shorter than the list of those who have. And, before anyone says “What??” that’s right, the Boss didn’t make the list. Just have never been a big fan of Bruce Springsteen other than the third album, “Born to Run” from back in ’75. No hating now, ‘tis the season. Some of the winners are entire albums, as the choices were just too many, others just landed a song.
So, On Dancer, on... never mind, here’s the list, in no particular order.
Actually, you could substitute Judy Garland, Bing Crosby or Nat King Cole to this slot and be just as satisfied, but if you want to check out all the holiday classics, as traditional as that old 33 rpm record mom and dad had, then these are a must. “Jingle Bells,” “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” “Silent Night” and on and on.
Just reading his name will make you start humming one of the songs from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” “Christmas Time is Here,” “Greensleeves” but the song you are thinking of is called “Linus and Lucy.” I don’t care how old you are, this album will bring more than one emotion out of you.
Yep, even the late Tom Petty jumped into the holiday song pool, back in ’95 with a tune called “Christmas All Over Again.” Released on a six-disc box set with 91 other tracks called “Playback” which contained mainly B-Sides, unreleased tracks, some of the hits to date and even some Mudcrutch, Petty’s pre-Heartbreakers act. The package was rolled up tight with an all-star band that included Petty and all of the Heartbreakers, Jeff Lynne, Robbie Blunt, Kevin Dukes, Jimmy Rip, Tim Pierce, Scott Humphrey, Mitchell Froom; inspiration for the song is said to have come from George Harrison after he taught Petty some chords on the ukulele. Not a bad lineup.
A bit more contemporary than the Sinatra or Crosby holiday albums, but with many of the same songs and Gil’s hauntingly smooth crooner-like vocals giving you the idea that the title of the disc, “Let There be Peace on Earth,” could actually happen.
“Run Run Rudolph, Santa’s gotta make it to town” — maybe he’ll take the freeway. Released initially in ‘58, the song was actually the B-side of “Merry Christmas Baby” and, surprisingly to us, the song never got higher than number 69 on the Billboard Hot 100, but got to number 36 on the UK singles chart. If you are still mastering playing “Johnny B. Goode” on guitar and the holidays roll around, you start to learn this one. I believe it’s now a law. All the cool kids did, and released versions of it, like L.A. Guns, Mojo Nixon, Emily Osment, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sister Hazel, Dave Edmunds, Lulu, the Grateful Dead, Keith Richards and on and on.