It’s Hannukah, Chanukkah, Hanukkah, Chanukah. No matter how you spell it, if you’re celebrating this Festival of Lights, I wish you a happy holiday!
Today I thought I'd tackle the subject of holiday music, offering up some last-minute suggestions on Christmas albums you might want to give or get, while waxing nostalgic on Christmas music I have known and loved.
While I must admit to having a certain soft spot for the Hannukah kiddie ditties of my youth ("The Dreydl Song" being one of them,"Hannuhah, Hannukah" being the other), they don't appear on the albums I've flagged as holiday favorites. The truth is, few (if any) major artists included them in their holiday offerings. And so it is with deep regret that I move on to other, more widely available sounds of the season. I'm talking Christmas season.
As you will soon see, the bulk of these albums are, admittedly, sung or played by people who are no longer with us - iconic vocalists like Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee and Frank Sinatra. Unfortunately, several of my favorite albums never made it to CD, and are only available on eBay and/or other used 'record' outlets. Most, however, can still be yours for the asking.
I'm also including a list of favorite Christmas singles. I'm talking about all of those old hokey Christmas hits like "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause," "Up on the Roof Top," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," "Frosty the Snowman," "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." Corny? Yes. But it seems to me that at times like this, we need a little corn.
“Corn” aside, I'm also including a list of those wonderfully romantic and nostalgic tunes that came out of the 40's and 50's. I’m talking about the songs they used to sing on the variety shows that once dotted the networks. Songs like "I'll Be Home for Christmas," "Let it Snow," "Silver Bells," "It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas,” "Baby It's Cold Outside," and "The Christmas Song" still sound as warm and fuzzy as they ever did..perhaps even more so. And while I generally don't like the far-off sound of albums recorded by orchestras and groups if that era, I will say that "Sleigh Ride", as recorded by either the Boston Pops or Ray Conniff Singers is always a welcome treat.
So is just about anything Perry Como ever recorded, including "There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays" - a song that unfortunately doesn't get much play anymore.
One or two New Year’s tunes came out of that same period that are worth noting. Among them: "What Are You Doing New Years?" and "Moments to Remember." They used to play the latter song on the radio at the end of every year.
And speaking of the end of the year…
When I was a young girl – my dad and I went to Richmond, Virginia one year to visit his best friend. I remember going to the movies while we were there. Before the feature began, the management threw some lyrics up on the screen with a bouncing ball over them to guide the audience in a sing-along. A music track — complete with vocalist— played, and everyone sang along. I have no idea why I still remember some of the lyrics when I can hardly recall what I had for breakfast this morning (Toast? Coffee?), but I do. They were written to the tune of “You You You” – an Ames Brother’s song that quickly faded into oblivion. In any case, the verse went something like this:
“You, you, you
Spend my money through and through
Income tax will soon be due
Leaving none for you, you, you!”
While you may be unfamiliar with the Ames Brothers and “You, You, You,” and are too young to have lived through the era of the bouncing ball, you may recall such hit holiday singles as "Jingle Bell Rock" and "The Chipmunk Song," or a much more recent tune that I believe is destined to become a holiday classic. I'm 'talking'about "All I Want For Christmas Is You." My favorite version is not by Mariah Carey (who co-wrote it) or Miley Cyrus, but rather by a young girl named Olivia Olson, who sang it in the movie “Love Actually.” Both the tune and the 2003 holiday flick are worthy of your attention.
And now, as promised, my list of favorite Christmas albums. You’ll notice that there are a fair amount of albums featuring a variety of different artists. Such offerings can often be a mixed bag, as a few not-so-great artists or arrangements can creep into the mix. But for the most part, the multi-artist albums I've included here are a wonderful way to enjoy some of the best music of the season, without having to purchase all of the individual albums. I know that many of you buy your music song-by-song on the Internet, but for those of us who are still purchasing albums we can pick up and pop in our CD players, they are a little bit of heaven.
Have wonderful holiday, and let me know if you have a Christmas or Hannukah) favorite to add to this list!
Till the next time…
THE SINATRA CHRISTMAS ALBUM - (FRANK SINATRA)
SOME OF THE TUNES: THE CHRISTMAS SONG - MISTLETOE AND HOLLY - I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS - THE CHRISTMAS WALTZ - HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS
CHRISTMAS CAROUSEL –(PEGGY LEE)
SOME OF THE TUNES: I LIKE A SLEIGHRIDE (JINGLE BELLS), CHRISTMAS SONG, CHRISTMAS WALTZ, WHITE CHRISTMAS
HERE COMES SANTA CLAUS - (THE ANDREW SISTERS)
SOME OF THE TUNES: WINTER WONDERLAND SANTA CLAU IS COMING TO TOWN
WHITE CHRISTMAS - (BING CROSBY)
SOME OF THE TUNES: WHITE CHRISTMAS, I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS, SILVER BELLS, IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS IN KILLARNEY, SILENT NIGHT
IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME - (BING CROSBY FRANK SINATRA NAT KING COLE)
SOME OF THE TUNES: SILENT NIGHT, JINGLE BELLS, WHITE CHRISTMAS,
THE CHRISTMAS SONG, O' LIITLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM
CHRISTMAS WITH BING CROSBY, NAT KING COLE & DEAN MARTIN - ( BING CROSBY, NAT KING COLE, DEAN MARTIN)
SOME OF THE TUNES: LET IT SNOW, ’O HOLY NIGHT, JOY TO THE WORLD
ELLA WISHES YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS - (ELLA FITZGERALD)
SOME OF THE TUNES: JINGLE BELLS, THE CHRISTMAS SONG, HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS
CROON AND SWOON – A CLASSIC CHRISTMAS - (MULTIPLE ARTISTS INCLUDING: LEROY ANDERSON, JOHNNY MATHIS, ANDY WILLIAMS & PERRY COMO)
SOME OF THE TUNES: THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN, THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS, THE CHRISTMAS WALTZ, NEED A LITTLE CHRISTMAS
WHATEVER MAKES YOU HAPPY (MULTIPLE ARTISTS INCLUDING: PEGGY LEE, LENA HORN, DEAN MARTIN, NAT KING COLE & MELISSA MANCHESTER
SOME OF THE TUNES: HAPPY HOLIDAYS, I WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE
WHITE CHRISTMAS – ROSEMARY CLOONEY
SOME OF THE TUNES: I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS’IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR, LET IT SNOW, RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER
JINGLE BELL JAZZ – (MULTIPLE ARTISTS INCLUDING THE DEXTER GORDON QUARTET, THE WYNTON MARSALIS QUINTET, DUKE ELLINGTON, LIONEL HAMPON & MILES DAVIS)
SOME OF THE TUNES: HAVE YOURSELF, GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN, WHITE CHRISTMAS
CHRISTMAS FAVORITES – (MULTIPLE ARTISTS INCLUDING BING CROSBY, ROSEMARY CLOONEY, THE PLATTERS, MAHALIA JACKSON, PAT BOONE & THE LETTERMAN)
SOME OF THE TUNES: WHAT CHILD IS THIS, DECK THE HALLS, UP ON A HOUSTOP, AULD LANG SYNE, O CHRISTMAS TREE
JINGLE BELL JAM- JAZZ CHRISTMAS CLASSICS – (MULTIPLE ARTISTS INCLUDING CHET BAKER QUARTET, CARMEN MCRAE, DUKE ELLINGTON, LOUIS JORDAN, ELLA FITZGERALD & THE MODERN JAZZ QUARTET)
SOME OF THE TUNES: SLEIGH RIDE, THE CHRISTMAS SONG, WHAT ARE YOU DOING NEW YEARS?
A CLASSIC CARTOON CHRISTMAS – (MULTIPLE ARTISTS INCLUDING BURL IVES, JIMMY DURANTE, VINCE GUARALDI TRIO, FRED ASTAIRE & MICKEY ROONEY)
SOME OF THE TUNES: RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, FROSTY THE SNOWMAN, CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE, SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN, A HOLLY JOLLY CHRISTMAS, WE NEED A LITTLE CHRISTMAS