Joy

Christmas in the 40’s

The 1940’s delivered the unspeakable horrors of World War II but they also gave us the classic sound of Christmas.

 

Christmas in the 40's Tracklist

Fred Waring And His Pennsylvanians – ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas
Bing Crosby – White Christmas
Glenn Miller – Jingle Bells
The Andrews Sisters – Christmas Island
Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song
Vaughn Monroe – Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
Eddy Arnold – C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S
Judy Garland – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Gene Autry – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
Bing Crosby – Happy Holiday
Benny Goodman and Peggy Lee – Winter Weather
Sammy Kaye & His Orchestra – Santa Claus Is On His Way

Back in the forties there was no streaming, CD’s or for that matter cassette tapes so for those not enamoured with the wireless the only option was the phonograph and vinyl disc. The decade’s simplicity brought its own joy however. Surely there must have been no greater Christmas pleasure than having Bing’s ‘White Christmas’ spinning around at 45 RPM while his warm dulcet tones betrayed the wintry exposures outside the dining room windows.

Bing’s entry in this classic Christmas hit parade is undoubtedly the most famous, albeit in a version that you may not have heard previously, but there is so much here that you’ll either know or instantly fall in love with. You’ll undoubtedly enjoy a warm feeling from the Andrew Sisters ‘Christmas Island’, which takes the altogether zany approach of a bright summer outlook on a song designed for a much colder time of the year.

Given that it is the early sixties version of ‘The Christmas Song’ that has become ubiquitous you might be surprised to hear that Nat King Cole first recorded the song in 1946. And how cozy and homespun it must have sounded for a world in its early stages of recovery following the apocalypse of the Second World War. And if that doesn’t have you tearing up then Judy Garland’s devastating reading of ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ will do the trick.

Happy New Year

New Year songs may pale in comparison to the Christmas canon but they’ll ensure you have a ball as you ring it in.

 

Happy New Year Tracklist

Harry Connick Jr. – What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
Bing Crosby – Let’s Start The New Year Right
B.B. King – Bringing A Brand New Year
The Heartbeats – After New Year’s Eve
Otis Redding, Carla Thomas – New Year’s Resolution
Abba – Happy New Year
Slade – Here’s To (The New Year)
Donna Fargo – What Will The New Year Bring
Jo Ann Campbell – Happy New Year Baby
Mikey Wax – And A Happy New Year
Tori Amos – Our New Year
Carole King – New Year’s Day
Auld Lang Syne from ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’
U2 – New Year’s Day
The Walkmen – New Year’s Eve

With Christmas entering its second week what everyone really needs is another celebration to raise flagging spirits. And the end of year celebrations achieve this role with gusto and razzmatazz amid the endless sound of popping corks. So grab the person beside you and be merry together because we have the rest of the year to retreat into mundanity.

‘Auld Lang Syne’ is the big daddy of them all at this time of year but there are plenty of other sonic pleasures to enjoy as we approach that special countdown on the 31st of December. Sadly, Abba never recorded a Christmas song as a quartet but they did produce a classic ode to the 1st of January. U2 are another act to hold the mantle of the biggest band in the world and they also got in on the act. The song will be forever remembered for its visuals that featured the Dublin band on horseback waltzing through the snow.

There are vintage performances aplenty on this playlist with Carole King adding the necessary class. Bing Crosby himself, who is so readily associated with the festive season, delivers a bright message of hope for the next year. Slade also ensured their presence extended beyond traditional yuletide gatherings by recording ‘Here’s To…’. It may not have captured the public imagination in same the way that their ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ did but it’s still blessed with a sense of noisy devilment.

‘Zat You, Santa Claus?

Santa Claus certainly deserves his own playlist, he is after all the main man for at least one day every year and how many men can say that?

 

'Zat You, Santa Claus? Tracklist

Louis Armstrong – Zat You, Santa Claus?
Rosemary Clooney – (Let’s Give) A Christmas Present To Santa Claus
Brenda Lee – I’m Gonna Lasso Santa Claus
Eartha Kitt – Santa Baby
Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers – I Believe In Santa Claus
Gene Autry – When Santa Claus Gets Your Letter
Harry Connick, Jr. – (It Must’ve Been Ol’) Santa Claus
Clarence Carter – Back Door Santa
Brian Setzer – Boogie Woogie Santa Claus
Elvis Presley – Here Comes Santa Claus
The Ronettes – I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Bruce Springsteen – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Chris Isaak – Hey Santa!
Sufjan Stevens – Get Behind Me, Santa
Jim Reeves – Senor Santa Claus
The Jackson 5 – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Gene Autry, The Pinafores – Santa
Eddy Arnold – Jolly Old Saint Nicholas

For everyone under 11 years old and lots of much older folk the man in red is a genuine hero. I mean how on earth does he get through so much work in such little time? He may spend most of the year preparing for Christmas Eve and his gift express extraordinaire, but with so many chimneys’ to navigate it’s a wonder that he returns to the task year on year. The man in red is one of the true icons of the season and this collection of songs honours his annual pilgrimage.

The playlist title has been lifted directly from Louis Armstrong’s classic of the same name. Louis had a great affinity for the season, you can tell as much from his festive attire involving a jolly red onesie and of course his trusted trumpet. Louis’s song has a delightful swagger and will illuminate any party you care to host over the season. Bruce Springsteen’s version of ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’ is equally joyous and that is saying something given that it was recorded live and seemingly in an impromptu moment with the E Street band.

As befitting a man with rosy cheeks and giant pantaloons these Christmas songs are unmistakably jolly in their disposition. Things even get a little racy on occasion, especially when a purring Eartha Kitt reveals what she has planned for Father Christmas if he were to move a little closer. Similarly the Jackson 5’s ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ hints at how Father Christmas might just have a roving eye and by extension roving lips.

Christmas in the 60’s

The 1960’s were a golden period for Christmas music as the world’s biggest artists threw themselves into their festive releases.

 

Christmas in the 60's Tracklist
East 17 – Stay Another Day
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – The Power of Love
David Seville and The Chipmunks – The Chipmunk Song (Christmas, Don’t Be Late)
Cliff Richard – Saviour’s Day
Tommy Drennan – O Holy Night
The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale of New York
Johnny Mathis – When A Child Is Born
Shakin’ Stevens – Merry Christmas Everyone
Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody
Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
Dickie Valentine – Christmas Alphabet
Boney M. – Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord
Mud – Lonely This Christmas
Cliff Richard – Mistletoe And Wine
Ella Fitzgerald – O Come All Ye Faithful
Brenda Lee – Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day
Doris Day – Winter Wonderland
The Supremes – Twinkle Twinkle Little Me
Johnny Mathis – When A Child Is Born
The Crystals – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
The Beatles – Christmas Time Is Here Again
Clarence Carter – Back Door Santa
The Ronettes – Frosty The Snowman
Perry Como – Do You Hear What I Hear?
The Everly Brothers – Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly
Jim Reeves – An Old Christmas Card
Frank Sinatra – I’ll Be Home For Christmas
Elvis – Blue Christmas
Bing Crosby – White World Of Winter
Vince Guaraldi Trio – O Christmas Tree (instrumental)
Ray Conniff – Christmas Bride
Stevie Wonder – Someday At Christmas
The Beach Boys – The Man With All The Toys
Roy Orbison – Pretty Paper
Adam Faith – Lonely Pup (In A Christmas Shop)
Charles Brown – Please Come Home For Christmas
James Brown – Let’s Make Christmas Mean Something This Year
Burl Ives – A Holly Jolly Christmas
Andy Williams – It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
Darlene Love – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

If you were to remove the songs of the sixties from the Christmas canon the remainder would surely be akin to Charlie Brown’s sickly Christmas tree. This was a decade that really put Christmas music to the forefront as big name artists like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and the Beach Boys recorded complete works for the season. And no expense was spared as grand orchestras and expensive studios combined to conjure that signature festive sound.

The big daddy of them all is probably Phil Spector’s ‘A Christmas Gift To You’ which was originally pressed in December 1963. Exhibiting the famed wall-of-sound technique and featuring some of the greatest girl groups from the 60’s this album proved to be the benchmark for all other Christmas albums. In what was a faultless statement of Christmas intent it is perhaps Darlene Love’s ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’ that is the producer Phil Spector’s greatest legacy as it continues to summon goosebumps every time it is played.

Such was the gravitas of the Christmas music that was released in 1960’s music you’ll probably know most of the songs here. That said there are a few surprises, none more so than the contribution from big band conductor Ray Conniff who created the wonder that is ‘Christmas Bride’. You probably won’t hear it much on the radio over the holidays but this is a lavish piece of seasonal joy. And if you are planning to go down on bended knee this December there is no better accompaniment.

Christmas Duets

Christmas is better when you share it with someone special as evidenced by these singing yuletide duets.

 

Christmas Duets Tracklist
East 17 – Stay Another Day
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – The Power of Love
David Seville and The Chipmunks – The Chipmunk Song (Christmas, Don’t Be Late)
Cliff Richard – Saviour’s Day
Tommy Drennan – O Holy Night
The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale of New York
Johnny Mathis – When A Child Is Born
Shakin’ Stevens – Merry Christmas Everyone
Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody
Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
Dickie Valentine – Christmas Alphabet
Boney M. – Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord
Mud – Lonely This Christmas
Cliff Richard – Mistletoe And Wine

Dean Martin may have recorded ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ but the original version of Frank Loesser’s composition was released by Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer back in 1949. Not to be outdone however Dino appears here having plenty of fun with his partner in crime Frank Sinatra. And don’t they just blow the competition away with their boisterous take on ‘Marshmallow World’?

David Bowie and Bing Crosby might have hammed it up for the cameras but their reading of ‘Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth’ is by now the classic rendition of the age old carol. This 1977 recording was made all the more poignant as Bing died shortly after the TV special it was part of was filmed. Equally homespun and heart-warming are the kings of country Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers as they waltz through the loveable ‘A Christmas To Remember’.

You’ll notice that most of the duets featured in this collection come from the distant past but it was hard to avoid the splash made by Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber during Christmas 2011. Reworking a modern day classic such as ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ is always a challenge but with the good lady herself managing the process it could never be anything but a lot of fun especially with Bieber giving it Christmas socks.

Christmas Number Ones

A collection of the best Christmas number 1’s of all time.

 

Christmas Number Ones Tracklist
East 17 – Stay Another Day
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – The Power of Love
David Seville and The Chipmunks – The Chipmunk Song (Christmas, Don’t Be Late)
Cliff Richard – Saviour’s Day
Tommy Drennan – O Holy Night
The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale of New York
Johnny Mathis – When A Child Is Born
Shakin’ Stevens – Merry Christmas Everyone
Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody
Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
Dickie Valentine – Christmas Alphabet
Boney M. – Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord
Mud – Lonely This Christmas
Cliff Richard – Mistletoe And Wine

Back in the golden age of record buying the anticipation about the Christmas chart topper went on for many weeks. A Christmas number one was a feather in the cap for most artists and lots of recurring annual cash in their back pockets too. That said a Christmas No. 1 didn’t necessary have to be a Christmas song. How else could you explain Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘The Power of Love’, which has become inextricably linked with the season despite lyrics that betray that association.

The first Christmas number one that was actually written with the season in mind is the largely forgotten ‘Christmas Alphabet’ by Dickie Valentine. It topped the charts for the big day in 1955 and it’s easy to see why given the ebullient style that Valentine dispatches his happy festive thoughts. Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ is perhaps the finest example of how to infuse a Christmas song with merry thoughts and boisterous actions. In the wake of its ascension to the summit of the charts in 1973 it has returned without fail every December.

Happiness and Christmas chart toppers generally go hand in hand and while you could be forgiven for bouncing along to Band Aid’s 1984 smash ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ the song came with a serious message. Co-written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure this was a charity single to raise funds for the victims of the Ethiopian famine at the time. The single was hugely successful, raising millions for the cause and inspiring Geldof to organise Live-Aid the following summer.

Traditional Carols

Nothing adds to the feeling of Christmas more than traditional choral carols.

 

Traditional Carols Tracklist
The Vienna Boys Choir – Joy To The World
Oslo Gospel Choir – Ding Dong Merrily On High
Morton Gould and his Orchestra – Good King Wenceslas
Norman Luboff Choir – Hark! The Herald Angels Sing/God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen/The First Noël
Westminster Cathedral Choir – Once In Royal David’s City
King’s College Choir – Gabriel’s Message
St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir – It Came Upon The Midnight Clear
The Harry Simeone Chorale – Little Drummer Boy
Winchester Cathedral Choir – Silent Night
Choir of Christchurch Cathedral – Enniscorthy Carol
Henry Mancini and his Orchestra – O Little Town of Bethlehem
Mormon Tabernacle Choir – O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Westminster Abbey Choir – The Holly And The Ivy
Choir Of King’s College – Away In A Manger
King’s College Choir – While Shepherds Watch Their Flock By Night
The Vienna Boys Choir – O Come, All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)

Christmas choirs and their beautiful carols are intrinsic to the Christmas season experience. They are by their nature religious in tone but not all are, ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ for example holds a purely secular viewpoint throughout. Carols are in their natural setting in a church, being sung by a choir while a stillness envelops everyone within earshot. It is a magical experience whether Christmas means everything or nothing to you.

It would be quite impossible to enjoy Christmas Eve without traditional carols and this playlist includes some of the best choirs from around the world singing the most famous carols. The most well-known of all of them is the Vienna Boys Choir but there are representations from other cities such as London, Oslo, Dublin and Prague.

You notice a number of styles adopted in this collection from North American Gospel tinged glory of the Oslo Gospel Choir to the slightly more mainstream pop approach of Norman Luboff and his choir which was released way back in 1968. No matter the approach taken by these choirs however there is no mistaking the carols in question which have been with us for centuries.

Lonely This Christmas

For many people Christmas can be the loneliest time of the year.

 

Lonely This Christmas Tracklist
Mud – Lonely This Christmas
Joni Mitchell – River
The Eagles – Please Come Home For Christmas
Bert Jansch – In The Bleak Midwinter
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Xmas Time
Dolly Parton – Hard Candy Christmas
Ben Folds 5 – Lonely Christmas Eve
Elvis – Blue Christmas
The Emotions – What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas
Judy Garland – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Marvin Gaye – I Want To Come Home For Christmas
Jona Lewis – Stop The Cavalry
Prince – Another Lonely Christmas
Wham! – Last Christmas
The Carpenters – Merry Christmas Darling
Brenda Lee – Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day
George Jones – Maybe Next Christmas

It’s the happy, joyous and celebratory side of Christmas that we all crave but circumstance can
put a halt to this. And you’d be surprised how many sad songs have been written that depict the lonely, while seemingly all around people celebrate the season. Our collection of lonely Christmas songs should act as a reminder that someone close to you could probably do with an arm around the shoulder.

You’ll know most of the tunes here but Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’ has only recently crept into our Christmas consciousness. It’s the definition of the holiday slow burner and it’s easy to see why given that it was spirited away on her 1971 ‘Blue’ album, which otherwise contained non-Christmas related material. But quality eventually shines through and this sparse composition with its melancholy heart has rightfully been added to our festive soundtrack.

Judy Garland’s version of ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’, from the movie ‘Meet Me In St. Louis’, is another heartbreaker as she wallows in sadness about the last Christmas she’ll spend in her favourite city. Similarly forlorn is Karen Carpenter’s character in ‘Merry Christmas Darling’ whose longing for the love of her life reaches fever pitch at Christmastime.

Christmas during wartime is the theme of Jona Lewis’s ‘Stop The Cavalry’ as the lonely soldier
pines for his wife back in England as all around a cacophony of explosions light up the night sky.
Back home but still riddled with loneliness are Mud who recount their experience of a yuletide spent alone without their love. That they sound altogether like Elvis just adds to the atmosphere given how truly broken the King sounded on his own tear inducer ‘Blue Christmas’.

Christmas in the 80’s

Come on Eileen, Grandpa and all the family because it’s time for the best 80’s Christmas songs.

 

Christmas in the 80's Tracklist
Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
Wham! – Last Christmas
Enya – Oiche Chiun
John Mellencamp – I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping
Chris Rea – Driving Home For Christmas
Whitney Houston – Do You Hear What I Hear?
The Pretenders – 2000 Miles
Mel & Kim – Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree
Freiheit – Keeping The Dream Alive
The Cocteau Twins – Frosty The Snowman
The Eurythmics – Winter Wonderland
Queen – Thank God It’s Christmas
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – The Power of Love
Run-DMC – Christmas in Hollis
U2 – Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)
The Pogues, Kirsty Maccoll – Fairytale of New York
Jona Lewis – Stop The Cavalry
Jon Anderson – Easier Said Than Done
Paul McCartney – Pipes of Peace
Bing Crosby, David Bowie – The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth

It might have been the decade that fashion forgot but the 1980’s were a golden period for Christmas songs. In fact it is safe to say this period is up there with the initial surge of great Christmas music from the 1940’s and 1960’s. The songs may sound very much of its time but that doesn’t stop us from singing these tunes from the top of our lungs during the season. And there’s no greater festive anthem than the tale of ragged love called ‘Fairytale of New York’ by the Pogues. The London based Irish band pack more drama, redemption and downright wonderful musicianship into a few minutes than most bands do in their whole career.

The big hitters in this collection are undoubtedly Band-Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ and Wham’s story of lost relationships ‘Last Christmas’ but there is so much more to enjoy too. A compilation called ‘A Very Special Christmas’ (in aid of the Special Olympics) yielded a sprinkling of delights in 1987 all by itself, with U2’s rendition of Darlene Love’s ‘Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)’ perhaps the highlight.

Elsewhere there are tales of Christmas in the trenches (‘Stop The Cavalry’), long journeys back home (‘Driving Home For Christmas’) and events in the ghetto over the holidays courtesy of Run-DMC’s genre busting ‘Christmas in Hollis’. With so much variety you’ll hardly have time to catch your breath but then Bing Crosby and David Bowie managed to capture the essence of laidback seasonal charm on their classic duet together ‘The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth’. Not sure if homely can ever be used to describe a piece of music but for some reason that appears to be the best description for Bing and Bowie’s collaboration.

Song sponsor: guaranteed payday loans