Friday, December 07, 2007

Here We Come a' Caroling

Ok, it’s after December 1st, so no one can get onto me for discussing Christmas carols so soon. I love Christmas music. I don’t care if the radio stations and stores start playing it before Thanksgiving. It just makes me smile and brings back memories I associate with those songs. My great-grandmother had the Time-Life Treasury of Christmas albums when I was a kid and I loved those. I bought the CD versions a few years ago. Its three discs of original Christmas carol bliss. It should be noted I am a carol purist. I want Bing Crosby to sing White Christmas. Not the Backstreet Boys. Or Mariah Carey. I don’t want Carrie Underwood, I want Perry Como. Burl Ives.

Every now and then, there is a newer carol like “Run, Run Rudolph” and I don’t have a preference or someone covers a song that I don’t necessarily associate with anyone else, like “We Three Kings.” That’s ok. But as a whole, my only exceptions to the ‘original artist’ rule are the Chipmunks and the really sick and twisted Christmas carols that Bob Rivers does (the Christmas version of Weird Al). To me, those technically aren’t the same songs, so they don’t count.

My Favorite Carols would have to be:

10. Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg – I don’t know if this really qualifies as a Christmas song, but its always played in heavy rotation on the Christmas station.

9. The Chipmunk Song by David Seville and the Chipmunks – Come on, you know you love this one. I still want a hoola-hoop!

8. The Little Drummer Boy by Bing Crosby and David Bowie – Its just one of those weird moments in television history.

7. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Rosemary Clooney – I love this song and I get especially annoyed when they play other versions where the lyrics get switched around. I won’t mention any names (*cough* – the Carpenters – *cough*).

6. Jolly Old St. Nicolas – This is one of my favorite traditional songs. Not sure who sings it the best.

5. Didn’t I Get This Last Year? (Do You Hear What I Hear?) by Bob Rivers – The lament of every receiver of poorly thought out Christmas gifts. Even then, I still manage to tear up at the end every time. I’m a sucker.

4. O' Holy Night – I can’t say who does this the best as honestly, I don’t really like any of the versions I’ve heard on the radio. Everyone *thinks* they can sing this song well and it’s a staple on every pop star’s Christmas album, but I find its one of those songs that simply must be belted out with a heart and soul that is hard to capture. I was even disappointed with Celine Dion’s version and you’d think if anyone could belt it out, she could.

3. We Three Kings by Sarah McLaughlin and the Bare Naked Ladies – I only heard this in the last few years. Its very “Peter, Paul and Mary” and I really dig it. No one ever does this song, so its especially cool.

2. Christmas Canon by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Ok, so this isn’t really a Christmas carol, but a children's choir singing words set to Pachabel’s Canon in D. I don’t care. I love Pachabel’s Canon and I enjoy this version too. It’s even my Christmas ringtone.

1. The First Noel by the Crash Test Dummies - This is hands down the best ever and you'll never hear it on the radio. It flies in the face of everything I’ve said before, but its so awesome, it must be noted. Back in the 90's, I was watching a Christmas ice skating competition. One of the guy skaters came out and did a really great routine to the weirdest, creepiest, most beautiful version of the First Noel I’d ever heard. I searched for YEARS to get a copy and finally paid a mint to get one on Ebay. I’ve included a link to the music video for you to listen to. Enjoy the weirdness of it all and be sure to listen to the whole song. (Yes, it’s a crappy video, but the budget is obviously low.)

In mentioning favorites, one must also mention your least favorites. I think I’m one of the few that actually likes "I Want a Hippopotomus for Christmas" and I’m okay with that. What really gripes my soul are the Christmas songs that deliberately and maliciously rip out your guts and serve them to you on a lovely holiday platter. Case in point – "Christmas Shoes." I don’t know who sings it. All I know is that it is a cruel, cruel thing to do to someone. I can name that tune in 3 notes and I’m across the room, changing the station before they can get one sappy word out.
(For those of you unfamiliar with this song, its about a man who is approached by a little boy at the checkout counter of some store and asks him to help him buy some shoes for his mother - HIS MOTHER WHO IS IN THE HOSPITAL DYING AND GOING TO MEET JESUS TONIGHT SO SHE NEEDS PRETTY NEW SHOES! Are you kidding me? Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, then THIS? It’s sick. It’s wrong. )

It's almost as bad as that horrible poem from the perspective of a dead person about how you shoudn't be sad for them cause they're spending Christmas in heaven. They read that poem when DB's grandfather died three days before Christmas and I was crying so hard I had snot running down the inside of my suitcoat sleeve. Of course, we were in the family section so everyone could see me blubbering. That's just not nice to do to someone.

Ok, off my soapbox (for now). What is your favorite Christmas carol? Which one do you wish the DJ would scratch and never play again?



Playground Monitor said...

Which one do I wish he'd scratch and never play again? EASY! "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas." I hate, hate, hate that song.

Love Sarah and the Bare Naked Ladies. I thought it WAS Peter, Paul and Mary come back to gift us with a new Christmas song.

Last year I heard "It Wouldn't Be Christmas Without You" by Jaci Valasquez with John Tesh on piano. It's a simple song but at the end Tesh does a sort of Vince Guaraldi/Charlie Brown piano solo.

About 7 years ago I did a Christmas shopping trip to Birmingham and heard a neat song on the radio. It's called "I Bought You a Plastic Star for Your Aluminum Tree." I know the title sounds stupid, but it's a jazzy number about Christmas in Beverly Hills where there's no snow and people put lights on the palm trees.

Also love "It Must Have Been the Mistletoe" -- the Streisand version. And "No More Blue Christmases" by Natalie Cole.

At least the radio station I listen to hasn't gone to an all-Christmas format. I hate that too. When all they play is Christmas songs, they have to scrape the bottom of the barrel and play stuff like Little Richard singing "O Holy Night" and Bocephus doing "Ave Maria."

Have you heard Jeff Foxworthy's Redneck Twelve Days of Christmas? *g*


Jen said...

MOST HATED Christmas song for me? No doubt, hands down John Denver's Please Daddy, Don't Get Drunk this Christmas. If you've never heard it, consider yourself blessed! I worked at the local Dollar General one Christmas season as a stock clerk when I was home from college on Winter Break. They played a loop tape Christmas Mix. I would hear it twice an hour for eight hours which makes 16 lousy, *&^* times in a one-day shift. It was torture! Not only did I hate it when it was playing, then there was the residual nausea that lingered after it was over and then the dread/anticipation of it comeing up again in an all-too-brief half hour. It's been 26 years and it still leaves me cringing.

I love Ava Maria, Eartha Kitt's Santa Baby, and is it The Christmas Song or Let it Snow (you know it goes "it doesn't show signs of stopping and I've got some corn for popping, the lights are turned way down low, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.")

Ayla said...

My absolute favourite christmas song is The fairytale of New York by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, closely followed by Stop the cavelry by Jona Lewie. I love listening to these songs over and over =D My brothers and i always sing along too.

Angel said...

One of my favorite off the wall songs is Christmas with the Family, about having Christmas with a REALLY screwed up family who drinks all Christmas and has been married over and over. Reminds me of my Dad's family. :)

One song I absolutely can't stand is one I hadn't heard until this year and it is being played in heavy rotation on our local "Christmas" station. By Dolly Parton, its called "Hard Candy Christmas" about a woman who is now single so "Maybe I'll dye my hair..." Awful!


Smarty Pants said...

Angel, I guess you've never seen the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. "Hard Candy Christmas" is a song from that movie/play. :)

Problem Child said...

Cool song--man, that guy's voice is unusual.

I love O Holy Night (when done properly) and most of the traditional ones. I also love "Please Come Home For Christmas" by Don Henley (but Bon Jovi's version is good too. "Santa Baby" is a great one to vamp to.

"I Believe in Father Christmas" by Emerson Lake and Palmer gets heavy rotation this time of year. Now, I love that song, but it's very pessimistic and (some folks say) atheistic.

But I'm right there in line with you on the "Christmas Shoe" type songs. BLECH!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I love The Christmas Song. Has to be Nat King Cole. No one else does it right. Also, Dean Martin singing Baby It's Cold Outside and Let It Snow. I heard a version of Baby It's Cold Outside yesterday that had Barry Manilow and K.T. Oslin. Yuck. Nobody but Dean makes that song sexy!

Can't forget Mary Did You Know. A lot of people have covered it, but I still like the original version.

I also love Andre Rieu's album The Christmas I Love. And after 3 years in Hawaii, I'm a Brothers Cazimero fan. We went to their Christmas concert every year. They did a vocal version of Carol of the Bells that gave me chills the first time I heard it.

Songs I'm sick of? Well, that hippo song is getting kind of old. Too precocious by far. Not a big fan of old classics redone by today's singers either. I heard some weird Vanessa Williams thing the other day, but I'm blocking it out so can't remember what it was called.

Rhonda Nelson said...

I don't know that I have a favorite. Probably Mary Did You Know.

Smarty Pants said...

Baby, It's Cold Outside has always creeped me out a little. It sounds like the girl is so at home, yadi yadi, but the man sounds SO old. When she asks "whats in this drink?" my mind immediately goes to ruffies. Maybe it would be better if they didn't always pair the great male singer with a young female engenue. Creepy dirty old man vibes all around. Am I the only one?

Instigator said...

My favorite has always been What Child is This. Santa Baby is good too. I like the Hippo song :-) And I'm Gettin Nothin for Christmas.

I discovered Josh Groban's new Christmas CD. I love his version of Little Drummer Boy. I'm usually a Christmas song purist too but that boy can sing!

SP, is #10 that song about the guy running into the girl he used to know on New Year's Eve? If so I really like that song but never knew the title.


Playground Monitor said...

You beat me to it (cause I said I wasn't going to check the internet til I'd done my housework this morning) about Best Little Whorehouse.

I happen to like the Barry Manilow/KT Oslin version of "Baby It's Cold Outside." I don't think of ruffies. *shrugs* Maybe it's because I grew up in an era when you didn't have to worry about stuff like that.

Mary Did You Know and Santa Baby -- oh yeah. Forgot those.

Instigator mentioned Josh Groban -- I love "Believe" from the movie "The Polar Express." I can't wait to watch that with BabyGrand on her Papa's big TV. When the train comes in, it'll rattle the whole house.


Problem Child said...

I wonder if the "Baby It's Cold Outside" is a generational thing--I too, think rufies, date rape, "no means no" etc...

Shari C said...

Thankfully, I have not heard 'I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas' and I hope I never do hear it.
I enjoy most Christmas music and 2 of my favorites are 'White Christmas' and 'Silent Night'.

Smarty Pants said...

Yes, Instigator, that's the one where he meets her at the grocery store. I guess it isn't a Christmas song, really, but that's the only time they play it.

Mary Did You Know always makes me cry. I like that song, but I avoid it. Not cry like Christmas Shoes cry, but I get misty.

Kathy said...

I have always liked Grandma Just Got Run Over By A Reindeer. LOL.

Clint Black's LOOKING FOR CHRISTMAS CD is awesome. I especially love TIL SANTA'S GONE (MILK AND COOKIES), THE FINEST GIFT and LOOKING FOR CHRISTMAS. This is the best Contemporary CD ever. A must listen.

Jose Feliciano's Feliz Navidad brings back great memories.


CANON D is my ultimate favorite! BRING A TORCH, JEANETTE, ISABELLA is too. Oh, and I love Greensleeves.

wd verif. duzle
no, try ooxsav

Mirm said...

Long time lurker - first time poster here. As much as I really love Bing Crosby's rendition of White Christmas, this one really runs a close second.

Not sure if the link will work - you may have to cut and paste.


Lynn Raye Harris said...

LOL, I don't think of myself as all that old -- in fact, I'm about 5 yrs older than the oldest playfriend (excluding PM, tho) and Dino's version of that song makes me think of Doris Day movies and a different time period. Yeah, when I listened to the BM/KTO version, I was thinking it sounded so weird -- she lives with her parents? What's up with that.

But Dino, man, I get that Vegas 50s Rat Pack vibe and I just love it. :) It was a different era, when good girls definitely didn't. :) I picture a "Pillow Talk" Doris and Dino in the Rock Hudson role when I hear that song. I guess that's why modern remakes of that song don't work for me -- it IS a creepy scenario in today's world. :)

Playground Monitor said...

OHMYGOSH Mirm! That's a scream. Do-wop reindeer complete with synchronized hoof movements. I love it!

Thanks for coming out of lurkdom to post that.


Instigator said...

Glad you jumped out of lurk mode Mirm!

I keep meaning to buy the transiberian orchestra's Christmas album too.


Playground Monitor said...

I suppose everyone's seen the light show done to TSO's Wizards in Winter?

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Oh yeah, Mirm! Thanks for that! I'd seen it before, but it's been a long time and I forgot about it. I'm so glad you reminded me!!

Barbara Vey said...

I have to agree with PM and Lynn, having grown up with Dean, Baby, It's Cold Outside is the best. I have it on The Rat Pack Christimas CD and it is so keeping with the time period it is done in. I also love Elvis' Blue Christmas and I could listen to Christmas music all year long.

Worst song goes to those stupid shoes. I turn off the radio when I hear it.

But a couple of years ago I heard, "Fall Softly Snow" and haven't heard it since. Does anyone know who does this song or has heard of it?

Lee Morrison said...

Here's a link to the Crash Test Dummies video and song that might work a bit better if you want to enjoy it without the streaming. It really is beautiful. Brad, I think is his name, has a great voice.

Btw, here's a link to one of my faves and the cute video that goes with it.

Great post. I love Christmas music too.

One that the DJ can toss?

Call me whatever name you want, I hate The Little Drummer Boy. That song annoys me to no end.

Maven LJ said...

I like "I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas" because it makes my granddaughter laugh hysterically when I sing it. That's worth a lot of points.

My favorite Christmas song is not one of the traditional ones -- though I love those, too, and have a ton of Christmas CDs. On the 2nd A Very Special Christmas CD the last track is "I Believe in You" by Sinead O'Connor. It's just beautiful, and I always go back and replay that one a couple of times when the CD is over.

The ones I don't like are the tear jerkers, like the blasted Shoes song. HoHoHo. I'll turn off the radio in a heartbeat if that comes on.


MaryF said...

I am with you on both Christmas Shoes and Bing Crosby and David Bowie's Drummer Boy. I think that one HAS to be my favorite.

Anonymous said...

FINALLY someone who knows what song I'm talking about!! Thank you so much for your #2, finally I can listen to it more than when I catch it on the radio once a year!