I have a complicated relationship with Christmas music. I like my Christmas music–I have several CDs I enjoy putting on this time of year. On the other hand, there are some standards that have been so played into the ground, I can’t listen to them. I blame the radio stations. I have nothing personal against Andy Williams, but hearing him sing “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” makes me want to scream.
But I do like some Christmas music, so I thought I’d highlight a few favorite songs. There are standards I still enjoy, like “White Christmas” or “O Come All Ye Faithful” but I thought it would be more fun to talk about slightly unusual ones. So here are some of my more unusual favorites, with links to videos:
“Snoopy’s Christmas” by The Royal Guardsmen – Peanuts fans know that Snoopy has an alter ego as the World War I Flying Ace, in constant battle with the bloody Red Baron. This song is a funny and sweet story about when they meet one Christmas Eve.
“Little St. Nick” sung by the Muppets – I have the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas CD, and I love the familiar Christmas songs sung by Muppet characters. “Little St. Nick” is my favorite. Animal fixates on the line “Run, run, reindeer,” so as the other characters continue singing, the song is punctuated by Animal in the background yelling, “Reindeer! Run, run, run!”
“I Guess There Ain’t No Santa Claus” by Barry Manilow – This is a sad tale about a man who’s alone on Christmas–I guess there ain’t no Santa Claus. But I just love it because it’s such classic Barry Manilow, and the lyrics are so clever, like “They sure got it right when they sing Silent Night.” (The only video I could find was part of an old Jay Leno interview; Barry starts singing at about 4:45.)
“O Holy Night” sung by Michael Crawford – I have always loved how much emotion Crawford puts into songs, and he does a beautiful job with “O Holy Night.” There’s a part three and a half minutes in when he repeats a verse beginning “Noel, noel” several times, building up the emotion each time. I remember the first time I listened to this, it seemed like maybe he’d reached the height, but I thought, “No, you’re Crawford, I know you–you can go bigger.” And sure enough, he repeats it another time, even more dramatic.
“Grown-Up Christmas List” sung by Amy Grant – This is such a touching song; without being depressing about all the problems of the world, it describes a grown-up letter to Santa asking for things the world really needs: “No more lives torn apart, and wars would never start, and time would heal the heart. And everyone would have a friend; right would always win; love would never end…this is my grown-up Christmas list.”
Your turn–what are your favorite Christmas songs? Familiar or obscure–and if you just love Andy Williams singing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” I won’t hold it against you!