I will be spending Christmas Eve and Day in a place other than my parents’ house for the first time ever this year; Corrin and I will be visiting her family in Michigan. She is boarding her plane while I type this, actually, and I fly out on Saturday morning. I’m very excited for this trip, but recognizing that indicates a break in tradition at a time of year during which I’m obsessively traditional and focused, Corrin charged me with a very particular task: arranging the music playlist for Christmas morning.
This has been an interesting puzzle. I’m “The Christmas Girl”, so have an adoration of Christmas music — and a library that allows me to listen to holiday tunes on nonstop loop for three-and-a-half days before repeating a track. Corrin doesn’t have anything like that type of tolerance, and I’ve been restricted to “no more than three hours” of music, without repeating any songs. On top of which, her parents and brother have very different musical tastes from one another. Putting together a selection of music that can interest, engage, and entertain all five of us is no small order!
The result of several days of paring and swapping is the following list of 51 songs. They include some sentimental favorites (Carpenters, anyone?), some big-voiced, Broadway-esque recordings of traditional carols (well, hello, Barbra Streisand, Linda Eder, and Victor Garber), some mood-setting instrumental tracks (courtesy of Rick Braun, George Winston, and the Paul Winter Consort), the occasional plaintive ballad (Pierce Pettis makes even me long for a little white clapboard church), some tongue-in-cheek commentary from modern wastrels (Vienna Teng, Jonathan Coulton), driving modern stories from my personal favorites (Trans-Siberian Orchestra), new-age takes on familiar tunes (Enya and Lorenna McKennit will be perfect if it snows!) and a few tracks thrown in purely for laughs (Billy Mack, filker Tom Smith, and Wizard Rock group The Hermione Crookshanks Experience). The recordings date from 1937 (Louis Prima’s “What Will Santa Claus Say”) to 2011 (Michael Buble’s “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”), and cover a number of different styles that I like — which is far from all-encompassing, but does offer variety.
I’ve listed the songs here in alphabetical order to demonstrate the lack of repeats according to my own rules: “Jingle Bells” doesn’t count since the second inclusion is merely an overlay line in a medley featuring “Good King Wenceslas”, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra version of “O’ Come All Ye Faithful” is not at all the carol of the same name.
Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!
- All Those Christmas Cliches, Nancy Lamott
- An Angel Returned, Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- The Atheist Christmas Carol, Vienna Teng
- Back to a Reason, Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- Bell, Book, And Candle, Rick Braun
- The Bells of St. Paul, Linda Eder
- Carol of the Bells, George Winston
- The Christmas Clock, Rick Braun
- Christmas Dreaming, Harry Connick, Jr.
- Christmas Dreams, Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24, Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- Christmas Is All Around, Billy Mack
- Christmas is Interesting, Jonathan Coulton
- The Christmas Song, Barbra Streisand
- Christmas Through a Child’s Eyes, Linda Eder
- The Christmas Waltz, Carpenters
- Different Wings, Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- Engravings II, Ira Stein, Russel Walder
- Fairytale of New York, Pogues & Kirsty MacColl
- The First Snowfall/Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Carpenters
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Loreena McKennitt
- I’ll Be Home For Christmas, Victor Garber
- Incredible Phat, Art Garfunkel and Amy Grant
- In The Bleak Midwinter, Pierce Pettis
- It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, Michael Bublé
- It’s Christmas Time, Carpenters
- Jingle Bells, Barbra Streisand
- Medley: Merry Gentlemen, Good King Wenceslas, Jingle Bells, 101 Strings Orchestra
- Mele Kalikimaka, Jimmy Buffett
- O’ Come All Ye Faithful, Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- O Come All Ye Faithful, Josh Groban With The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
- O Come, O Come Emmanuel, Enya
- O Tannenbaum, Various Artists
- Oíche Chiúin, Enya
- An Old-Fashioned Christmas, Carpenters
- A Pirate Christmas, Tom Smith
- Rock of Ages, Marc Cohn
- Sleigh Ride, Harry Connick, Jr.
- Stars and Midnight Blue, Enya
- Still, Still, Still, Mannheim Steamroller
- Sugar Rum Cherry (Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy), Duke Ellington
- The Sweater Song, The Hermione Crookshanks Experience
- Thankful, Josh Groban
- (There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays, Carpenters
- This is How Christmas Ends, Clay Zambo
- Tomorrow is my Dancing Day, Paul Winter Consort
- Trains and Winter Rains, Enya
- We Need a Little Christmas, Patrick Wilson
- What Is Christmas?, Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- What Will Santa Claus Say? (When He Finds Everybody Swingin’), Louis Prima & His New Orleans Gang; Vocal by Louis Prima
- White Is In the Winter Night, Enya
P.S. This post is brought to you with extra special thanks to my adopted big brother, Clay Zambo, for broadening my musical horizons and providing me with approximately 1/3 of my holiday music collection (including his original composition, “This is How Christmas Ends”). Much love to you, maestro.
P.P.S. Love, “The Christmas Waltz” is just for you.