The Christmas List, by Rich Paschall
As you are racing to and fro in this holiday season you are probably being bombarded by holiday songs. Even if you are listening to Talk Radio in your automobile or sleigh, you can not escape the holiday music in stores, malls, and on television.
With so many versions of certain songs floating through the air, down the block and Rockin Around The Christmas Tree, we thought you might need to know the best recordings of the top songs. It might be a little Frosty outside where you are and we don’t want you to have a Blue Christmas. So for your Happy Holidays before Little St. Nick arrives, here is our latest Top Ten list of definitive versions of these holiday classics.
10. A Holly Jolly Christmas, Burl Ives (1909-1995) The song was released in 1965 after being featured the previous year in the animated cartoon classic, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
9. Feliz Navidad, Jose Feliciano. The 1970 tune by the Puerto Rican star has become a classic pop tune worldwide. The song features a simple Spanish chorus and a simple English verse. The catchy music has taught people everywhere how to say Merry Christmas in Spanish.
8. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Judy Garland (1922-1969) The tune was written for the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis. It’s a hard song to interpret and I think many singers need to see the movie.
7. Jingle Bell Rock, Bobby Helms (1933-1997) The 1957 “Rockabilly” sound was an immediate hit and eventually went gold for Helms.
6. Christmas Time Is Here, Vince Guaraldi (1928-1976) The jazz musician is best known for composing the score to 17 Peanuts animated television specials and a feature-length film. The first of these was A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965. Words to this jazz tune were provided by the Charlie Brown television producer, Lee Mendelson (1933-2008).
5. (There’s No Place Like) Home For The Holidays, Perry Como (1912-2001) The popular crooner recorded the song in 1954 and sang it for the next 40 years. “Mr. C” recorded it in stereo in 1959 and it is this version you probably hear today. Like many popular television variety stars of his era, Como continued holiday shows after his weekly TV shows ended. This video is from his 1969 Christmas special.
4. The Christmas Song, Nat “King” Cole (1919-1965) The tune was written by Bob Wells (1922-1998) and another will known singer, Mel Torme (1925-1999), in 1945. In June 1946 Cole recorded the song, then recorded it again in August with more instruments. The second version was released. There was a third recording, then a fourth in stereo in 1961. It is that last version you here so much today. Torme also recorded the song some years later, but it is the Nat King Cole version that is best remembered.
3. It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Andy Williams (1927-2012). Williams was another popular television crooner. The song was written in 1963 and recorded by Williams for his first Christmas album. It was used on his television show the same year and became a Christmas standard over time. Now it is one of the top 10 Christmas songs of all time. On this video, Williams appears to be singing along with the popular recording.
2. Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree, Brenda Lee. The 1960s pop star is still singing the 1958 hit by Johnny Marks. Mr. Marks also wrote “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas.” Her Christmas hit is in constant rotation on radio holiday playlists and one of the most downloaded holiday songs. I guess she’s not sorry now.
1. White Christmas, Bing Crosby (1903-1977) The Irving Berlin hit was apparently written for the movie Holiday Inn (no-telling with the prolific Mr. Berlin). Crosby first sang it on his radio show in 1941 but recorded it in 1942 for the Holiday Inn movie. It was recorded again in 1947 as the original master wore out from frequent use. The song appeared in two other movies and Crosby sang it for the rest of his life. This video is the final performance. He died soon after, doing what he liked best, playing golf.
What are your favorite versions of holiday classics? Click on any song title above for the music video.