It’s Beginning to Sound A Lot Like Christmas
Classic holiday tunes make the season bright.
I worked in retail for 15 years, so listening to Christmas music can give me some PTSD-esque flashbacks as I remember how awful people can be during the holidays. For the most part, the music that played in the store I worked at rarely had any Christmas songs that I actually liked. It was usually some obscure artist doing a techno version of “Here Comes Santa Claus”, or something crazy like that. This is not to say that I don’t like Christmas music; you can sometimes find me singing random holiday songs in June when the mood strikes me.
A lot of the Christmas music that I enjoy are songs that remind me of my childhood. My family had this tradition of putting on old holiday records while we decorated the tree and house. My favorite was The Chipmunk’s Christmas album that was released in 1980. My parents would indulge my brother and I by letting us play this record while we lobbed tinsel at each other rather than placing it on the tree. Needless to say, holiday music has a special place in my heart, especially during the season.
Nat King Cole
“The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)”
Oh, how I love this song. Cole’s velvety voice over a smooth electric guitar, along with violins that rise and fall like the tide, always makes my heart swell. It kind of has a melancholy, yet romantic mood to it. This song could be the perfect background music in a Christmas movie where someone is walking alone down a snowy street in the evening, or it could be played as a couple dances slowly in front of a fireplace.
This is a classic Christmas song that is a staple for me every holiday season. I have started my own little tradition of playing holiday music as I decorate my own tree, and whenever this song comes on, I am reminded of those childhood days spent with my family during the season and it makes me feel all the feelings.
“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
Whenever I hear this song, I think of the scene in Home Alone when Kevin McCallister is trying to make it look like his home is full of people while the would-be burglars are outside watching. I guess if you’re going to play an old school rockin’ Christmas song to make it look like you have a full house, this would be a fun choice.
I like the way Brenda Lee makes her voice bounce around with certain notes and words; it’s not something that I hear all too often with modern music. It was a stylistic choice that you can also hear in Elvis songs during that time. The saxophone also adds a fun element to this song with a short solo. It’s definitely a tune that needs to be played while you’re having a holly jolly time with loved ones.
Vince Guaraldi Trio
“Christmas Time is Here”
This is definitely a song that won my parents over when they were kids because A Charlie Brown Christmas was released when they were at that age when the holiday season spells magic for youngins. Subsequently, they made it a staple during our holidays.
I can always picture dropping the needle delicately on my dad’s A Charlie Brown Christmas record and anticipating the first soft notes of this song. It’s seriously mellow and sweet; all gentle jazz and children’s voices. Maybe they wanted to play this song while we were decorating the tree to try and get my brother and I to chill out a bit, although I doubt that ever worked!
Traditional songs are great and all, but sometimes you need to throw in a fun, 80s jam. If you read the lyrics, it’s more like an anti-Christmas song because of the bad luck the subject of the song encounters; they opt to spend the holiday alone because of all the snafus. The Waitresses released this song in 1981, but it didn’t get radio play until 1982, and even then, it didn’t do very well.
It was a hard sell at the time, but it can now be heard in stores every year during the Christmas shopping rush, as well as on a ton of compilation albums. It’s a silly song to bounce along to during the festivities when you’re making merry.
There are so many more Christmas songs that I love, but I would be writing for weeks if I tried to collect all of them. It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole when searching for my favorite holiday music, but here is my honorable mention list in case you wanted to check them out:
“Little Saint Nick” by The Beach Boys
“Christmas Time” by Smashing Pumpkins
“Last Christmas” by Wham!
“Happy Xmas (War is Over)” John Lennon
“Christmas in Hollis” Run-DMC
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Judy Garland (makes me cry when I hear it)