No, not all holiday musical offerings found at the top of Amazon’s sales list at this time of year are treacly and irritating. But many are, so antidotes are sorely needed.
Here are ten of mine. What’re yours?
(NOTE: The video, which is unrelated to the list, is from a Bing Crosby special that was made during Bing’s last months. He died before it was actually shown. The lead-in skit’s a bit stiff, but the music’s hard to beat.)
1. Christmas In Prison – Amos Lee (A very nice cover of the John Prine sing.) (Hey, I’m a criminal justice person, so this has to be on my list.)
2. Fairytale of New York – The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl (If for some reason you’ve never heard this, at least play it on YouTube. It’s quite fabulous. Though, due to its lyric content, best not to play it in front of your next-door neighbor’s six and seven-year-olds—at least not if you want to continue to be invited to the yearly neighborhood pancake breakfast.)
3. Randolph the Rouge Nosed Reindeer – Justin Wilson (Justin Wilson is a Cajun dude. And this is a very silly song. I guar-ron-tee’ it.)
4. Go Tell It on the Mountain – Tom Waits & the Blind Boys of Alabama (Tom Waits…. Blind Boys of Alabama…Go Tell It on the Mountain. Nuff said.) (Canadian folk star Bruce Cockburn’s version of this is also a must have.)
5. Stop the Cavalry – Jona Lewie (A British radio fav during the holidays.)
6 . Jingle Bells – Crash Test Dummies (This one’s guaranteed to frighten small children. However the Crash Test Dummies version of Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem is actually quite lovely.)
7. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear – Michael Doucet and Beausoleil (An all instrumental by some Cajun masters.)
8. The Rebel Jesus– Jackson Brown & the Chieftains (Politics and celebration both. Jackson’s a tad over-serious, but it works anyway. The Chieftains help.)
9. Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas) – John Denver (Denver wrote it and loads of country stars have recorded it. I still like the John Denver version best, so sue me.)
10. Santa Baby – Carter’s Chord (Three extremely cute, talented sisters. Their album ain’t out until next year, but iTunes has the download)
Okay….now over to you.