My Top 10 Christmas Songs — 2016
Note: This is a countdown. I will update this daily between December 14, and December 24. Check in daily for the latest entry.
I had to think this through several times before I decided how to compile this list. Should I go for irony? Should I go for novelty, or even elite song detective prowess? I decided to forgo all of that, and just use my gut instincts. This year, I will pick the songs based on the things that I like. I will not try to present something for everyone, nor will I post anything that doesn’t kill my bones personally. These are songs that will resonate with anyone who is like me: I am hitting 50 soon, I was born and raised in Southern California. I grew up as a radio and pop culture junkie, and anyone from my era (coming of age in the 70s-80s) will probably relate.
And now, for the countdown.
10. New York’s a Lonely Town — The Tradewinds -KRLA Version
This is on the bottom of the list as it’s technically not a Christmas song. No mentions of Santa Claus or the baby Jesus, or presents under the tree. This song does mention snow, and the rhythm is carried by sleigh bells. It also didn’t usually hit the airwaves until the winter began to set in. Where I grew up (Ventura County) we were treated to a doctored version of this song. I’ll let you listen to it, and you will hear local oldies powerhouse, KRLA, give itself a shout out.
I think the appeal of this song and version is that it was introduced to us by our moms, who took us unwillingly through grocery shopping and Christmas shopping trips through the season, always with KRLA stirring the air in the car with oldies.
This song was especially meaningful to me, as my first Christmas on my own was 3,000 miles away from the Gold Coast. I was in a small town in Ohio, looking out my kitchen window as my car was being peacefully buried in snow. In the basement were things I would never need in my new homeland: A wetsuit, a boogie board, a surf board, and a few skim boards.
“There’ll be no surfin’ there and no one even cares”
9. Alfie the Christmas Tree — John Denver and the Muppets
For 80’s kids, the muppets were captivating. We were coming of age, and we had instant role models. For me, I started to immediately tune in to the house band and Statler and Waldorf. With a parade of awesome pop culture greats, we couldn’t help but stay home on Muppet Show night.
I always loved John Denver. During the 80’s, I really didn’t know why, but after almost 25 years of making records and working on songs, I finally get why he is such a huge influence on me. It’s way too long to get into, but suffice it to say that people who are really good at what they do are able to make it look easy. It ain’t.
Case in point, today’s pick: John Denver and the Muppets, together. This was on TV once, that I can remember. My sister got the album for Christmas one year, and I still spin the hell out of this one. I have found bits and pieces around, but I would love to find a copy of the real deal, just because.
As always, Kermit and John Denver nail it.
I don’t know if you believe in Christmas,
or if you have presents underneath the Christmas tree.
But if you believe in love, that will be more than enough
for you to come and celebrate with me.
8. Mamacita, Donde Esta Santa Claus — Augie Rios
I did mention that this list was going to be self indulgent, didn’t I? Here is another one that I learned by driving around with my mom during the Christmas season cranking “Hit radio, eleven, KRLA!..”
I have heard that KRLA no longer plays oldies, and that KRTH-101 plays “Oldies” from the 80’s. Thinking back, in the 70’s, my mom played music from the 50’s, so the 80’s now are pretty much ancient. That is probably the scariest Christmas ghost ever.
For a little brown kid growing up in SoCal in the 70’s, it was incredible to see someone like me in the media who wasn’t up on charges. For that, I thank you, Mr. Rios.
I hope he won’t forget to clack his castinet,
And to his reindeer, say,
“Oh Pancho, Oh! Vixen, Oh! Pedro, Oh! Blitzen, “
Ole! Ole! Ole! cha cha cha.