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November 21, 2008

Holiday Music!

Holiday Music!

This morning, if you check in early, you'll get to see this blog happen in real time.  Long story, but I ended up out of town yesterday - unexpectedly - and didn't get home until the middle of the night.  Totally spaced on the blog until about 7:20, when I dashed to the Mac and started typing.

Holiday Music - we love it!  It's not just me, either - several of our TLC friends do too, and I hope we'll hear from them, since I can't find their e-mails right now - sorry about that!

Before we cover Christmas music in all its varieties, a few words about Thanksgiving Music - yes, there is such a thing and who else would go to all the trouble to find it for you?  That's right, just me.

There are the standard favorites, like "Celebrate Me Home", "Count Your Blessings" and "Bless This House", and the favorite religious songs like "All Good Gifts" and "Now Thank We All Our God."  Any turkey can throw those on a CD.  But what if you want more - and you're not willing to settle for the instrumental Windham Hill CD (which is terrific)?  Fear not, young pilgrim, for you have arrived in the new world.  Try these:

Want something funny? Adam Sandler's "Thanksgiving Song" (some concepts objectionable) or Firesign Theater's "Thanksgiving, or Pass the Indian, Please", or choose the Loony Toon version of "Over the River"

Don't mind some Christmas mixed in?  "Christmas is Coming" - the goose is getting fat and so forth, or "December Makes Me Feel This Way".

The following artists all have Thanksgiving songs - the first is from a brand new CD:

Mary Chapin Carpenter, Beatroots, Chris Winters, Debbie Friedman, John McCutcheon, Shawna Carol, Teddy Goldstein, Deb Talan, Benjy Westmoreland, Bowman, Jay Unger & Molly Mason (a Thanksgiving Waltz that's wonderful), and Josh Groban (from last year's amazing CD).  

Okay, that's a lot of info, and I may have to go back and edit later.  But first, HOLIDAY MUSIC.

If you're not a true fan, we may lose you early.  Some people just stick with the old Time-Life Boxed Set and call it a party.  Tsk, tsk.  Over the years, I've broken down the music into segments - otherwise, there is just no way to narrow it down.  More on that in the next blog, because I can already tell this is going to be way too long.

This year's new Holiday CDs-

Still To Come: Aretha Franklin (her FIRST) - out December 2nd.

Already have the entire new CD (which tells you how much I love the artist, because otherwise, it's cherry-picking from iTunes):

Harry Connick, Jr. - "What A Night!" - this is his third holiday CD with NO duplicates.  I just love that.

Yo-Yo Ma & Friends - "Songs of Joy and Peace" - great collaborations with artists from Diana Krall to Alison Krauss.

Al Jarreau - "Christmas" his first Holiday CD and the guy can still bring it.

And the one I've been looking forward to since last year's "12 Days" video - Straight No Chaser's "Holiday Spirits"

My other selections are from Melissa Etheridge, Faith Hill, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Brian McKnight and Amy Grant.  And there is a new "Very Special Christmas" CD with a variety of great picks.  As always, proceeds benefit the Special Olympics.

Still reading?  Okay - my top picks from 2007, in no particular order - (pick your favorite tracks from iTunes or another service):

Josh Groban's "Noel" - just stunning
Carnie Wilson's "Christmas With Carnie" - lovely
Barry Manilow's "The Swing of Christmas" - a must for all Fanilows
Yolanda Adams "What a Wonderful Time"
Patti LaBelle's "Miss Patti's Christmas" - no surprises - you like her or you don't
Jim Brickman's "Homecoming" - great piano and some vocals too, including Richie McDonald
Diamond Rios' "The Star Still Shines"
Michael W. Smith's "It's A Wonderful Christmas"
John Pizzarelli's " Let's Share Christmas"
Relient K's "Let It Snow Baby, Let it Reindeer" (get it?  say it out loud)

For more religious Christmas music:

Bebo Norman's "Christmas from the Realms of Glory"
Jars of Clay "Christmas Songs"
David Phelps "One Wintry Night" - plus "Joy, Joy" - both are amazing
Ernie Hasse & Signature Sound "Christmas With"
"Gloria (Studio Version)" - a compilation CD
Chanticleer's "Let It Snow"

Yikes.  Not that I get carried away with this stuff or anything...

Okay, I need my Frapps.  Bad.  In the holiday spirit, please help me out here - what are your favorites?


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I've been playing Christmas CDs (and driving my husband NUTS) for the last three weeks. And I've got most of my shopping done. (Love that Internet!) But I'm going to stay away from Christmas goodies: cookies, egg nog, chips and dips. Over the lips, forever on the hips.

My personal favorite - The Twelve Days After Christmas - when the girl breaks up with the boyfriend who gave her all those stupid gifts (and those stupid fake gold rings that turned her finger green), chops down the pear tree, shoots the partridge, makes some chicken soup and has some fun with a drummer boy. Perfect!

I am way out of my league here because I can see that I'm dealing with a serious afficionado, but this is the kind of thing I aspire to, this level of detail and differentiation. I need this music playing in the background while I work on my 747 Christmas card database, trying to whittle it down to 700, and that's while adding the new soccer mom friends. Yes, I realize this is insane. But honestly, is it more insane than 3 Christmas albums with no repeats?

My hat is off to all of you who keep track of this stuff, because I reap your hard work. Who mentioned Straight, No Chaser here the other day? Great stuff!

I just picked up the Straight No Chaser & the Mary Chapin Carpenter last night and I'm SO excited. Haven't been able to listen to them all the way through yet, but what I've heard, I like. Didn't realize that SNC had this cd available - many thanks to whoever mentioned it here, as that was my first clue!

I still love the Muppets & John Denver. And my favorite novelty cd is Oy to the World - Christmas songs done by a klezmer band. You have to hear it to believe it.

After years of searching, I managed to locate a copy of "Merry Christmas, 007". A re-mix of OH HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE soundtrack, with "Holiday Sounds" blended in, it was a special commission for the 20th Anniversary of OHMSS.

My two favorites are Josh Groban's O Holy Night and Amy Grant's Breath of Heaven. I love Christmas music and can't wait to dig out my CD's!

I have a total of 34 Holiday cds.

These I listen to all of the time during the holidays:

The Three Tenors Christmas
The Irish Tenors: Home for Christmas
Amy Grant: A Christmas Album (it had a song we used to sing in choir when I was in the 6th grade and another, "Heirlooms", that I dare you not to tear up over)
Clay Aiken: Merry Christmas With Love (I know...dork city, but "Mary Did You Know" is another heart stopper)
Celine Dion: These Are Special Times
John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together (this came from the tv special back in 1970s)
Josh Groban: Noel
Kenny G...well, any Kenny G (I have 3)
Hymns For All Saints (I got this through Trivent Financial for Lutherans. It has quite a few of the Christmas hymns I grew up with)

This years additions are Faith Hill: Joy to the World & Toby Keith: Christmas V1

Just a sucker for Christmas music!

I'm a total sucker for holiday music, also, much to my husband's chagrin. My favorites include many that have already been mentioned (and yes, I love my Time-Life set). My daughter and I both love to sing along to those songs in the car, and both choke up at the same time on "Little Drummer Boy."

A few things that haven't been mentioned -- Benjamin Britten's "A Ceremony of Carols" is wonderful; I have the Voci Nobili recording that also includes Rutter's "Dancing". Any and all recordings by the Choir of the King's College, Cambridge -- amazing vocals. (Oops - I just found one on iTunes that I'm going to buy as soon as I finish burning that new Mary Chapin Carpenter CD :)) Even my husband will listen to the Kathleen Battle/Christopher Parkening CD (an oldie but goodie).

By agreement, I hold off on playing holiday music until Thanksgiving Day -- but I will start bright and early! And I'll be playing some of the great collections I received from a certain someone last year . . .

You may think me a complete Philistine, but I love the Rosie's Christmas albums (A Rosie Christmas, and Another Rosie Christmas) that Rosie O'Donnell did when she had her daytime talk show. She included so many wonderful artists singing old favorites, including Elmo the Muppet singing a duet with Rosie. And one of the most surprisingly well done albums (on CD) of Christmas music is from Lillian Vernon. Called Christmas Memories, it includes old favorites and great artists like Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole (who sang the best The Christmas Song version, bar none), and Eartha Kitt singing my very favorite version of Santa Baby.

My oldest daughter's favorite holiday movie is Holiday Inn, in which Bing Crosby sings White Christmas. This wonderful old standard is on an album called White Christmas, and it also includes Rosemary Clooney singing It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, and Vic Damone singing Adeste Fidelis. This entire CD gives me goosebumps this time of year.

For total suavity I recommend Baby, It's Cold Outside, A Crooner Christmas. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, B-b-bing, Sammy Davis, Jr, and others sing all the golden oldies, including my second favorite song, the title track.

Another lovely collection (I'm not big on single artist albums, can you tell?) is William Sonoma's The Christmas Collection, which includes Jingle Bells sung by Bing and the Andrews Sisters, and Mr. Velvet Fog, Mel Torme, singing The Christmas Song. Yum. This one also has Bobby Darin singing Auld Lang Syne, which one has to include in generically classified "holiday music", but almost deserves its own genre.

I also have the Manheim Steamroller albums, and Manhattan Transfer's amazing album of harmonized Christmas/holiday songs, and they get put in the play queue during the festivities.

I love Christmas music! I think my all time favourites are Josh Groban's Oh Holy Night and anyone singing White Christmas and Silver Bells. In our house we listen to Andy Williams a lot at Christmas. We also have a tradition of buying one new Christmas CD per year so this year I shall be making some suggestions!

I could go on and on, and sometimes do.But for now I will just talk a little about some more Thanksgiving songs. For funny, try Uncle Dave's Grace -- I think it's by Lou and Peter Berryman and is also on the album The Turning of the Year by Cathy Mangsen, Anne Hills and Priscilla Herdman. For what passes for modern in my household, Now Be Thankful by Fairport Convention. And for the religious Thanksgiving, Look at the Blessings by Willie Banks and the Gospel Messengers, or Great Is Thy Faithfulness by any good choir. If you want more Thanksgiving songs than that, you can visit my blog https://auntieknickers.blogspot.com and go back to November 2007 for a three-part Tunes For November post. Thanks for the new recommendations!

How wonderful to have so many like minds!

These are such wonderful suggestions - I can't wait to find some time to get on iTunes and check out all this wonderful music!

Whoa, Nancy, I just got waylaid for a half an hour on YouTube listening to a bunch o' Straight No Chaser [I almost wrote Shaken Not Stirred -- which would normally never occur to me except under the influence of TLC].
Really old: Joan Baez - Noel, Emmy Lou Harris - Christmas Album, The Swingle Singers - The Story of Christmas and Noel Sans Passeporte

Oh and check out Stephen Colbert's Holiday Special. For a preview, listen to Terry Gross's interview with him:

Mainheim Steamroller. I have a bunch of Christmas CDs, but this ohe ends up staying in the player all week.

William? Sometimes you give me a teensy twinge of concern.

Now, now, Nancy...:) If I collected coins or stamps, no one would blink...:)

But I shan't even mention my Universal Monsters Memorabilia Collection...:)

Harley - seriously 747 cards. I'm in awe. In my family I'm the Christmas card/letter nutcase. I have a listing of 97 people and am trying to see if I can cut it down closer to 80 (4-rolls of stamps).

We have a card signing assembly line. My daugher-11 gets to choose her "signature" first usually XOXO, then my youngest-8 whines and chooses Love with a heart and then her name.

Sorry guys, but I turn the cable channel to the Christmas Video channel and listen to whatever they play. I have favorite Christmas songs and like to hear versions from almost anyone. I love to listen to my kids make up words to fill in the spots them don't know from the original.

After working retail security during Xmas season for several years & having to listen to Xmas music 14 hrs a day for a month & 1/2
Bah Humbug!
My only CD with Xmas music of any type is 'A Biker's Life' by Expanded Sound
It has 'The restroom door said gentlemen' &
'You ain't getting diddly squat (cause you really screwed up this year)'

Rita! I love those guys they are so funny. I keep meaning to order one of their cds online, but keep forgetting.


". . . my Universal Monsters Memorabilia Collection."

It's a holiday vision; big tall green-gray parts-built corpse-guy, wrapped in a dozen strings of lights, festooned with ornaments, tinsel and very becoming chandelier earrings, a pile of presents at his feet for the children - and he's powering the lights from his neck electrodes. That's what you call holiday spirit.

Vaughn Williams - Fantasia On Christmas Carols. It's all in there. And don't call him 'Rafe.' He hated being called 'Rafe.'

HIJACK: Tom & Lorenzo, of ProjectRungay blog fame, have photos of the Sexiest Men Alive on their blog today, with commentary:


Yummy photo alert!

My favorite Christmas CD is WISH, purchased at Crabtree & Evelyn two years ago. It has old standards sung by Nat King Cole, Eartha Kitt, and lots of others. My favorite songs on this CD are Jonny Mercer & Margaret Whiting singing BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE and I'VE GOT MY LOVE TO KEEP ME WARM sung by either Jo Stafford, Billie Holiday, or Kay Starr (I don't have the CD in front of me right now, but all these singers' renditions are equally good).

As I'm a sucker and sap for the older Christmas songs, I love anything Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Dean Martin and Perry Como. My favorite movie (on CD now) is WHITE CHRISTMAS with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, and I love all the songs from that movie. (And did you know that Rosemary Clooney sang for both herself and Vera-Ellen for the movie's soundtrack?)

But I'm not totally stuck in the past. Two of the newer CDs I purchased are Emilie-Claire Barlow's jazzy WINTER WONDERLAND and the LOVE ACTUALLY movie cd.

Pam - Spike is one of the top eye surgeons in the country, and who I had do my Lasik. (Dr. Larry Gans)

And Harley...767 cards??? If I were doing that many I'd have to start right after New Year's Day. One of my friends started sending out an after-Christmas letter, thus relieving the pressure of mailing everything in time for Christmas Day. Sometimes my cards get out that late too, but not on purpose. Most years I'm lucky to get them out at all. ;-)

For those of you on Comcast Cable digital, the Sounds of the Season already have Christmas songs playing. I've been listening the last few days (much to my family's chagrin).

Sorry, but I'm with Tom Lehrer, who once wrote:
Mix the punch
Drag out the Dickens;
Even though the prospect sickens,
Brother, here we go again.

Although I can put up with Jose Feliciano doing "Feliz Navidad" maybe twice a year. But if someone can explain to me why major Jewish composers can write "White Christmas" or "The Christmas Song," but there still isn't ONE decent Chanukah melody (and yes, I'm counting Adam Sandler)?

Jeff Cohen

Okay, a little late here, but it took me over three hours to get to work due to snow and ice in one town that I drive through. Start point was just 2"...ending was a dusting. In the middle? Ugh.

Just this past week, based on Kathy's mention, I started downloading my Christmas cd's to my iPod library. My goodness. I ended up with quite a few different stylings for differents moods.

Moods...more jazzy
Pop...includes Christian (Amy Grant, etc.)

So, what do you want to listen to? I have got both of Rosie's cd's. Bette Midler. Celine. All of Amy Grant's, including her newest release (which a friend picked up last night at the Amy Grant concert in Hershey...I am so jealous). All of WOGL's Christmas oldies. Instrumentals. Vocals.

My all time favorite? Easy...Amy Grant's 'Emmanuel/Little Town' from her "A Christmas Album". I love to sing that in church and here at work...along with her 'Breath of Heaven'.

Oh, or how about Mark Lowry's 'Mary, Did You Know?'...that is such a poignant song.

When I get frustrated with all of the commercialism, I like to sing 'Real Baby' by Sunny Salsbury. ...bathrobed wisemen, gifts in hand...mangers full of clean yellow hay...

Debby, I love "Heirlooms" on Amy Grant's first Christmas album. After my grandmother died, I took a quilt she had made for me (and was falling apart) and cut it up into teddy bears. I made a little bear (about 8" tall) for all of my cousins at Christmas. (My male cousins didn't appreciate it initially, but their wives loved it.) I tied a little card around the neck and took a verse from that song & printed it on the card.

"Up in the attic, down on my knees
Lifetimes of boxes, timeless to me.
Letters & photographs, yellowed with years.
Some bringing laughter, some bringing tears.

Time never changes the memories, the faces
Of loved ones who bring to me
All that I come from and all that I live for
And all that I'm going to be.
My precious family is more than an heirloom to me."

The rest of the verses goes into Christmas.

It makes me weepy, with joy & sadness, everytime I hear it...just reading this gets to me. :)

Marcia, they have a cable Christmas Video channel? Wow!


In my opinion, the most wonderful "Thanksgiving" CD ever is Harvest Home by The Dale Warland Singers

Beyond stunning, it is transcendent.

Jeff - Are you including The Barenaked Ladies? Their Holiday Cd is one of my all-time favorites. Hannukah Blessings is beautiful.

Being a Christmas Baby, it only just occurred to me about a year ago that most people don't have an entire genre of music they associate with their birthday. My mom (AuntieKnickers) and I are both really into Christmas, so although we have the Thanksgiving start day rule, it's getting to be that there isn't enough time to listen to it all without starting early!

For a newer Christmas feel, try Sufjan Stevens' Songs for Christmas - this is a really good mix of sacred and secular.

Also, if you have never heard them, Christmas is a great time to start listening...Neal and Leandra. Neal has an M.Div., but they both have a great sense of humor, so another good one for the mix of secular and sacred. I highly recommend "Joseph's Lullaby."

I just checked back to yesterday's posts and found a THIRD page of comments! Wow, and I thought you had all gone quiet early. . .so . . .Karen, another spooky parallel -- I did Junior Achievement also, but we had a few really good ideas. Those engineers and Machinists from McDonnell knew some stuff about making things! My favorite -- here's the Christmas connection -- was a door ornament, garlanded styrofoam disks with "Hi" and "Bye" in glitter and the front and back halves of plastic reindeer looking like they were jumping through the door. Those engineers came up with stamps for the words, much quicker and neater for applying the glue for the glitter-words. We had other cool stuff (or maybe it only seemed that way to me) with efficient "jigs" and tools to make the work easier. I was V.P. of Production my final year and in the running for regional awards, but I was told that (this was in the '60's) a "girl" could never be considered for a major award for anything other than secretary!!

. . .and I know, hopelessly old-fashioned, but the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is so wonderful!

OK, late to the party am I but I did spend the day listening to Christmas music from Elvis, Enya, Tony Bennett and Manheim Steamroller at the store...I think it was me who mentioned Straight No Chaser but whoever wants the credit can have it :o) I just spend my time clicking on their YouTube numbers and singing along! My favorite all time Holiday Songs are Mel Torme's Christmas Song, Silent Night,and Oh Holy Night (I cry every time), but I confess to loving the music from Charlie Brown Christas and Welcome Christmas from the original Grinch (Boris Karloff). Speaking of Barry Manilow, I have three of his Christmas Albums...play them every year (CD of course)and I also have a Nat King Cole CD for Christmas. I am just a sentimental fool :o)

Well, I was going to suggest the Barenaked Ladies to Jeff, but my daughter beat me to it! And, I second the recommendation of the Dale Warland Singers' Harvest Home. I think my favorite on that album is "Not One Sparrow is forgotten" -- a Shaker hymn.

I love Christmas music! Since XM radio has a station devoted to playing nothing but Christmas from Nov. 1st till after Christmas, it's what my radio is set to. My kids object strongly. But hey, they're adults. They don't like it they can walk. My favorities are Trans Siberian Orchestra and Mannheim Steamroller. I own all of their albums. Good thing because I can't stream audio at work but I can play my Ipod.

Just wanted to thank all who mentioned Straight No Chaser today! I have listened to several of their tracks and will most definitely be adding their CD to my collection. Wonderful music!

I love Christmas music! So far, I've grabbed this year's CDs from Aretha Franklin, Harry Connick, Jr. and Yo Yo Ma and Kristin Chenoweth. I still need Al Jarreau's.

A friend tells me I have more Christmas CDs than she has CDs. I'm ok with that.

As for favorite songs, I never tire of Amy Grant's "Breath of Heaven" and "Heirlooms" or Alabama's "Candle in the Window."

I recommend "Santa Claus (I Still Believe)" to the anti-Santa crowd to help them understand that Santa isn't just some guy in a red suit. Santa is a philosophy/way of life. Oh, if we meet and I recognize you as the anti-Santa type, I'm not above torturing you with a recitation of "Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Clause."

Excuse me but my peppermint mocha is getting cold.

Totally late, so if anyone actually sees this...

Favorites: Do You Hear What I Hear - Bing Crosby
The Gift - Garth Brooks - beautiful song about a little girl and a nightingale
Merry Christmas From The Family - Montgomery Gentry - very funny (as is the video)
Little Drummer Boy - Bing Crosby and David Bowie
All I Want For Christmas Is You - Vince Vance & The Valiants

Growing up, the Mitch Miller Christmas album was a must in our house. Hearing any of its songs still makes me nostalgic.

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