Wednesday, December 12, 2007

All I Want For Christmas Is Some Decent Music

So I have been playing with colors all day for Christmas' sake. I will probably keep changing it every few hours, so if you hate it, just wait a little bit. Or complain. That's what I do. But I am not going to complain too much today. I just want to say that the Christmas station in St. Louis stinks. I am sure most Christmas stations stink. I mean, they play the same two dozen songs again and again and again. If I hear the high pitched "Little Drummer Boy" again ever, it will be too soon. Or "Please Celebrate me Home?" What does that even mean?! Once in Birmingham I heard Neil Diamond singing "Joy to the World" on their Christmas station. Nice! Neil Diamond is so bizarre. But I enjoy him every now and then just the same. I think George and I have a greatest hits album of his around here somewhere. Everybody needs a little "Song Sung Blue" every now and then. Anyway, just for fun, here is a top ten of what I wish the Christmas station played (not to be confused with what I like to sing in church- this is just for fun driving, baking, shopping music). There was a short back and forth about this on the "getting to know you" post, but as no one participated, I am sort of recycling the topic. I expect more participation this time. Let me know what you wish they played more. I'm sure everyone can think of one good song that is not that annoying Chipmunks song or "whoopdeedoo and dickory dock" song that they alternate with "Little Drummer Boy" and "Please Celebrate Me Home." Or if you like those four songs, wow, bad taste huh?

In no particular order:
1) "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan (is this the correct spelling after all?) - listen to it on this guy's website.
2) "The Friendly Beasts" which has evidently been recently recorded by Garth Brooks? We very excitedly found it on the Sufjan Stevens Christmas CDs last year. I grew up with the old Betty Jean Robinson version which is beautiful and folky. But this link is to hear Sufjan. It is fabulous.
3) This is actually an entire album. Behold the Lamb of God: the true tall tale of the coming of Christ by Andrew Peterson. My friend Sara gave this to me last year but it was after Christmas so I did not get to hear it much. This year I am in love with it. I cannot figure out how to order it to give as gifts though. It is a beautiful, covenantal telling of the coming of Christ, beginning with the stories of Moses and Israel throughout the Old Testament. If you can get your hands on one, do. You will be so glad you did! Oh, and my friend Evie did all the artwork on the jacket. So there you go, a bonus!
4) "Baby, It's Cold Outside" There are some bad versions of this song. I get so excited to hear it sometimes only to hear it badly done. I am not sure who it is that sings the really good version. I have a vague memory of a black and white movie with Bing Crosby? But it's not Holiday Inn or White Christmas. Anybody know what I'm thinking of? Googling "Bing Crosby Baby It's Cold Outside" brought up Doris Day and a sampling, but then it says in the comments that that isn't even them. So then I think I may have finally found the answer. Evidently, the movie is Neptune's Daughter and there are two performances, one by Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban (?) and another by Red Skelton and Betty Garrett (but this according to Wikipedia). I am betting that is the movie because we used to love us some Esther Williams. Rachael and I were suckers for an old musical! The song won and Academy Award for best original song after being in the movie, but the versions we would be most familiar with were recorded later. I think it must be the Johnny Mercer one that I like the best, but I can't find it online to be sure.
5) As mentioned before, Neil Diamond singing "Joy to the World." It is good, y'all! Well, I've only heard it once, but it blew me away. I am entertaining the idea of snatching it up this Christmas on CD. The problem is that it's on The Christmas Album, Volume 2 and you can't very well own a Volume 2 without a Volume 1. That would be annoying. Mariah Carey does a pretty sweet version of this song too.
6) Speaking of Mariah Carey, they play plenty of her "All I Want for Christmas is You," which I do love. But she sings "O Holy Night" really beautifully too.
7) "It Must've Been Ol' Santa Claus" by Harry Connick Jr. because this is just so my sisters.
8) "Mary's Boy Child" which I grew up listening to as sung by Evie, not my friend Evie but the 70s' Christian recording artist Evie. Anyway, who knows how to ever track this down, but there is a hilarious disco version out there by a group called Boney M. I prefer a classical arrangement, but the disco one is interesting anyway.
9) Speaking of my friend Evie, every year she sang the Magnificat at church on Christmas Eve. It was seriously the highlight of Christmas for me. And I can't find that arrangement anywhere. So sad. I even emailed her last year and asked her if she could track down the music for me as her dad was the music minister at our church, but I guess it is one of those things that is forever lost.
10) "Children Go Where I Send Thee" which is not so much a Christmas song except for the repetitive mentioning of the little bitty baby, born born born in Bethlehem. Here again is the link to Johnny Cash singing this on Youtube.
10 1/2) And did I mention that I thought Carrie Underwood sang "Do You Hear What I Hear?" beautifully at the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center? No overly dramatic voice manipulation, just pretty and sweet. So if 10 doesn't count because it isn't really a Christmas song or 9 because no one can actually find the song to play it or 3 because it's actually a whole song, make that one.

9 comments:

jennifer h said...

A few thoughts:

Neil Diamond sings Christmas songs really well--especially for a Jewish guy! And now, Barry Manilow, another Jewish guy, has a Christmas album. Isn't it interesting that no Christian artists are recording Hannukah songs?

Seriously though, I bought a great Christmas CD set at Sam's Club for $14.95 that contains a lot of the old traditional Christmas songs with all the greats old singers like Bing Crosby. It has the standards like "White Christmas," "The Christmas Song," aka "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire," "Jingle Bell Rock," "Feliz Navidad," etc. It also has some Christmas hymns like "Silent Night" and "O Come All Ye Faithful." The set includes 2 CDs and a bonus DVD of some of the artists performing the songs. The cheesiest thing about the set for me was that it was packaged in a Thomas Kincaide tin along with 5 TK postcards. But for $14.95, I can let that slide.

Other favorite Christmas music for me is any of the Manheim Steamroller Christmas CDs.

Renae said...

Ooh, well, let's see... I like Sarah M./BNL "We Three Kings"... did they do a whole album together? Did I just say "album?" Does anyone say "album" anymore? Or are you supposed to say "CD" so as not to reveal your age-i-ness?

"Baby It's Cold Outside"... I used to have an older Barry Manilow CD, but I think I've finally outgrown him... maybe it's the obvious face lift, starting to look like Joan Rivers, look he's sporting these days. He did a version I kinda liked, but I just bought a James Taylor (I see that you've panned him on your sidebar, so I hesitate mentioning him...) CD with "Baby It's Cold Outside" with Natalie Cole that I like.

Mostly, I like the older stuff... Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby.

Oh, and speaking of Jewish people doing Christmas music... I grew up listening to the Barbra Streisand Christmas *album* and didn't even consider the "conflict of interest" until I became a grown-up. But I still like listening to it... Ave Maria, The Lord's Prayer, her version of Jingle Bells, My Favorite Things... love them all.

Finally, I could not figure out WHAT'S UP with hearing Alvin & the Chipmunks ALL THE TIME until I saw an ad for the movie last night on TV. Yipes. I can't imagine wanting to NOT see a movie more than that one.

BTW, I'm sorry I missed your birthday! Happy Belated Birthday! I've been missing from recess duty lately, and also trying to stay off the computer in order to actually take care of these kids, which I don't feel like I've been doing a very good job of lately... so, anyway, I missed your day. I'd like to see the new door mat, though. I'll have to stop by and check it out.

sara said...

Abby,
I am glad you are enjoying Andrew Peterson. I am really sad to miss his concert tonight b/c Macie's school program is also tonight. FYI--Logos usually carries his cds.

Also--thanks for the Sufyan Stevens rec. last year--I have listened to it tons this Christmas!

Sara

Anonymous said...

Ok, this is really random, but I had never heard of Andrew Peterson until this blog post, but when I read Sara's comment, I looked him up and discovered I'm going to his concert tonight...I'm retarded, I know, but a friend of mine has tickets and invited me and Caroline to go with her and her kids and I didn't know who all was there besides Sara Groves and Pierce Pettis(who is the uncle of one of Bobby's friends...only reason I've even heard of him). I am excited to hear him now, and thinking I might have to buy a cd!

Elizabeth

Heather said...

Abby,
My dad is a huge Neil Diamond fan. I am sure I grew up on many of his CD's, but I have vivid memories of listening to his Christmas albums in high school...I think I'm dating myself here for sure! It doesn't quite count because they were my fathers:) However, I have to say he sings beautiful Christmas songs and the CD(s) have a great variety too!
Heather

the good, the bad & the ugly said...

I don't ever know the artist I am listening to on the radio. I have never been great I matching voices with people! But I am excited to buy Bebo Norman's new Christmas cd. I'll let you know what if it's a keeper.

Renae said...

Hey, Abby, I ran across a web site that made me think of you and your sweet girls...

www.amorettidesigns.com

That is all. Must go break up fight between E-man and Lou...!

Abby said...

Wow! So much to respond to!

Jennifer, sounds like a pretty good price. Too bad about the Thomas Kincaid packaging. Who are the people who like his stuff? George enjoys a little Manheim Steamroller too, which is strange to me as he doesn't like most Christmas music, but I have to say they are more that I really don't enjoy.

Renae, thanks in advance for the link, I haven't checked it yet so I'm kinda curious! Also thanks for the birthday wishes. I have no idea why we think we should know other grown ups' birthdays. How are we supposed to know? I saw a preview for Walk Hard last night and wondered if you would rather not see it or the Chipmunks movie. Kind of a tough call, but I maintain that the Chipmunks Movie is a new low in holiday entertainment. Well, what do I know? But even the Earl guy seems embarrassed that he took the role!

Elizabeth, did you LOVE the concert?!

Heather, my aunt was a huge Neil Diamond fan but I always thought he was so strange when I was younger. Now I can sort of appreciate him in a nostalgic way. Plus, he has so much charisma, it's hard not to be like "Yeah!"

Good, I think Bebo Norman is touring with Andrew Peterson right now. But I could have that wrong. Anyway, I bet your new CD Is good.

Sara, any more recommendations? Loved your card by the way. You got one just in time, I think. JM looks like he is right on the verge of a melt down! We had several of those in our newly developed Christmas card hopefuls too! I was talking to a friend last night about how we should just pick the worst ones, the ones where everyone is crying, to send next time! It is too hard to get a good one! Yours is darling though! And I'm impressed you got them out so early!

Wrights said...

Andrew Peterson is my new favorite! I had never heard of him until I clicked on your link. Thanks for the recommendation! I am getting an ipod for Christmas so I just downloaded lots of his songs on itunes. Thanks for your sweet b-day card! I loved the "John Leonard" quote! You are a dear friend.

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