Note: It’s a few days before Christmas and the Doctor is undoubtedly frantically wrapping packages. This is a replay from last year. Enjoy!
It’s impossible to escape holiday music. Radio stations begin playing it in
October September, Christmas muzak flows out from countless store speakers, and each new generation of popular singers do their best to create their own ultimate holiday recording (because, of course, holiday residuals are forever!).
But for some odd reason, about 15 years ago I began collecting holiday music. Why? Simple – if I was going to be inundated with it, I wanted to have some control, AND I didn’t want to hear the same old same old. So in the belief that even you, faithful reader, aren’t that interested in online recruiting this time of year, I present to you the Doctor’s holiday music picks:
- Jing a Ling Jing a Ling: The Andrews Sisters knock this one out of the park – tight harmonies, manic orchestration, and a great ‘Ha ha! Ho Ho!’ dropped in just for fun. It’s almost impossible to listen without developing an urge to bounce around.
- Sugar Rum Cherry: To slow down a bit, try out this bit of utter hipness from Duke Ellington – his own very special take on the Nutcracker.
- Jingle Bells: Yes, this one is played all the time – but not the way Brian Setzer and his orchestra do it! It’s worth hearing just for Brian’s mention of a ’57 Chevrolet. And, um, the guitar playing is pretty good, too.
- Hey Santa Claus: The Moonglows give this song the kind of easy, hip feel that drops you right back into an era of smoky nightclubs, yackety saxes, and late late nights. Then there’s the bass singer dropping in a very cool ‘yeah’ – just in case Santa wasn’t getting the message.
- The Christmas Waltz: Not that unusual but always incredible to hear. Peggy Lee’s voice literally floats through this song, and even though the orchestration veers dangerously close to schmaltz, Lee keeps it real.
- Hello Mr. Kringle: Corny, but my kind of corny. Kay Kyser and his Orchestra bring in a series of singers (include Ish-Kabibble!) pleading their case to the fat man.
- My Favorite Things: Not sure how this became a ‘holiday song’, but for me, Tony Bennett does the definitive version. It’s worth it just to hear him shout ‘Music!’ as the band kicks in.
- We Wanna See Santa Do The Mambo: From the first guitar notes, you know you’re in a funkier realm of holiday song. John Greer brings the bongos to the front on this one!
- White Christmas: Not white as in Bing, though. The Drifters do the perfect version for me. Bill Pickney brings it in nice and low, and then Clyde McPhatter nails the high stuff.
- Baby It’s Cold Outside: Ann-Margaret and Brian Setzer take Yuletide innuendo to new heights – AND you get bongos, too!
- Run Rudolph Run: In which Chuck Berry rips off his own guitar riffs and creates a Christmas classic.
- Winter Weather: A little more Peggy Lee, coupled with Benny Goodman and Art London. A great way to dance out the holidays.
So there you have – the Doctor’s (extremely abbreviated) holiday song list. What oddball (or not so oddball) favorite of yours did I miss?
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