Now That’s What I Call Christmas Music 54

Was talking Christmas music with Catalan Brian and The Luck Habit earlier this week in the wake of my moment on The Robert Elms show last weekend – see Radio Radio. In the good ol’ US of A of course it’s a genre in its own right, as reflected in the iTunes genres/CD metadata which includes Holidays Music or something like that. So we agreed to put together a selection of the best ‘Holidays’ tunes by way of party game cum useful list.

Frank Sinatra Christmas

1. Last Month of the Year – Blind Boys of Alabama

This is the one we kick off proceedings with every year in our house.

Father: Tell me when was Jesus born?
It was the last month of the year

Was it January?
Children: no [etc.]
February? no
March, April, May? no
June, July, August, September, October, November?
It was the 25th day of December
It was the last month of the year

What’s not to love?

2. Children Go Where I Send Thee – Nick Lowe

This was our 2013 acquisition – it was the year I got to really appreciate Nick Lowe. I saw him live at a recording of Songwriter’s Circle a couple of years ago for BBC4 and really started to rethink his music. I’ve always had a soft spot for Rockabilly, right back to when the local greengrocer’s delivery boy was in The Polecats.

3. Fairytale of New York – The Pogues and Kirsty McColl

I’ll get it out the way – at the risk of losing TLH from the discussion. I just love the slagging bit in the middle. And Matt Dillon (Rumblefish era) featuring in the vid. I spoke to Kirsty’s mum earlier this year while writing my book – Jean Newlove – an incredible 91 year old who looked after Dance and Movement for some of Joan Littlewood’s theatrical enterprises. Sinead O’Connor has also played this live with The Pogues in Kirsty’s absence.

4. Jingle Bells – Frank Sinatra

From Frank’s cracking Crimbo LP imaginatively entitled ‘The Christmas Album’. The voice – unbeatable.

5. Merry Christmas Everyone – Shakin’ Stevens

Christmas has nothing to do with good taste.

6. Let It Snow – Ella Fitzgerald

A voice as pure as driven white stuff.

7. Cool Yule – Louis Armstrong

The dude was cool as the white stuff.

8. Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt

Naughty but nice.

9. Silent Night – Sinead O’Connor

What Sinatra is to the male voice, Sinead is to the female voice i.e. as good as it gets. Seems like a good one for this centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War and that Christmas moment in No Man’s Land.

Sinead-O'Connor singer Irish

I’ll be adding more to these over the next few days. In the meantime Brian has got together a formidable list which I’ll post in the first comment. Feel free to add your faves…

6 comments so far

  1. ArkAngel on

    The aforementioned formidable list from Catalan Brian…

    The Christmas song? A genre that generally has not a lot to commend it. However it is that time of year and I think that over the next week or so we will all be listening to a number of Christmas tunes. I list here my selection of Christmas (or Christmas related) tunes; tunes that I can listen to without eventually wishing to kill everybody. They have been selected in the order in which I think they are best played. Sinead O’Connor’s “Silent Night” is eye wateringly beautiful and is the perfect starting point, and I put Nina Simone’s “Little Girl Blue” as an endstop because it is equally beautiful and, although it is not strictly speaking a Christmas song, it starts with the first few bars of the tune used for “Good King Wenceslas”, so it sort of qualifies. I make no apologies for the fact that a couple of artists appear more than once (I could easily have included the entire album “Tinsel and Lights”, by Tracy Thorne) and I certainly make no apology for the inclusion of two versions of Blue Christmas. I like both versions equally and so both had to be included. All songs are available on Youtube.

    Sinead O’Connor: Silent Night
    Cyndi Lauper: Early Christmas Morning
    Harry Belafonte: Mary’s Boy Child
    Albion Band: Sweet Chiming Bells
    Kate Bush: December Will Be Magic Again
    Roy Orbison: Pretty Paper
    John Cale: A Child’s Christmas In Wales
    David McAlmont & David Arnold: Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas
    Jona Lewie: Stop The Cavalry
    The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl: Fairytale of New York
    Glen Campbell: Blue Christmas
    Thea Gilmore: Drunken Angel
    The Handsome Family: So Much Wine
    Rufus Wainwright: Spotlight On Christmas
    Nina Simone: Children Go Where I Send You
    Ray Charles & Nina Simone: Baby It’s Cold Outside
    Joni Mitchell: River
    Tracy Thorn: Tinsel And Lights
    Elvis Presley: Blue Christmas
    Wild Billy Childish & The Musicians of the British Empire: A Poundland Christmas
    Steeleye Span: Gaudete
    B Bumble & The Stingers: Nutrocker
    Tracy Thorn: Joy
    Mike Oldfield: In Dulci Jubilo
    Albion Band: Rebel Jesus
    Nina Simone: Little Girl Blue

  2. theluckhabit on

    Ye Gods.

    • theluckhabit on

      I am going to keep out of this one.

      • ArkAngel on

        Push yourself – get out of your comfort zone

  3. catalanbrian on

    Yes Archangel, I could easily have included one or two from your list. I love the Ella song and Frank’s Jingle Bells. I do like the Chris Lowe song, but still think that Nina pips it. I see that you have the excellent taste to agree that the Pogues and Kirsty should be included although TLH will disagree. It is a fabulous song. And I agree absolutely with your comment on Sinead O’Connor’s voice, which is perfection. I have not heard a better version of Silent Night.

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