December 19, 2012

Thoughts after putting up our Christmas lights. I don’t know if these are my faves of all time, but you can be sure I’ve got them in my rotation for this Christmas season:

15. I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Jimmy Buffett. I dunno, I just like this version. Perfect with a glass of pinot grigio under happy glowing pineapple lights on the back patio on a chilly December night.

14. Once In Royal David’s City. One of my all-time favorite Christmas carols. Done right, it never fails to send chills down my spine and tears to my eyes. Makes me glad to have been born, raised and bred as an Anglo-Catholic, as I always will be. Guarantee my Mom and my Auntie Marge are going to love this. Enjoy!

13. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow – Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. I absolutely love the cleanness of the arrangement, the guitar (with an ever-so-slight echo) and trombone are featured here. The whole album is a must for our house every Christmas with its quiet joy and a touch of whimsy.

12. Little St. Nick – The Beach Boys. ‘Nuff said.

11. White Is The Winter Night– Enya. Just a pretty and joyful seasonal song from one of my favorite artists. The mileage she gets out of echoed, clipped synth strings never ceases to amaze me. The lyrics are positively delightful: “Green is in the mistletoe and red is in the holly, silver in the stars above that shine on everybody. Gold is in the candlelight and crimson in the embers, white is in the winter night that everyone remembers.” All that’s missing in the arrangement are sleighbells; they would have added a nice touch.

10. The Most Wonderful Time Of the Year – Andy Williams. Because you know in your heart of hearts that it’s not really Christmas without Andy. May he rest in peace.

9. Child Of Winter – The Beach Boys. A 1974 cut that never really saw the light of day. It’s a great little rockin’ tune with Mike Love on the lead and Brian Wilson doing the little dopey narration towards the end. Listen for the Moog synthesizer throughout as it becomes a little more prominent towards the end. A very cool cut.

8. The Christmas Waltz – Frank Sinatra. The whole Frank Christmas CD is as good as it gets. Not a bad track to be found. Christmas popular music as it should be – too bad our culture doesn’t know what taste, class, and appreciation means anymore.

7. All I Want For Christmas– Mariah Carey. You can’t tell me Mariah wasn’t inspired by Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift To You in this rollicking piece of holiday cheer. The song’s intro tells you that – all that’s missing are the tenor and alto saxes. The piano and driving bass, and the postively stratospheric note she hits towards the end does it for me. Heard it the first time while driving from the Providence airport to my folks house. Didn’t know who did it, but I loved it immediately. The background vocals could be a little more dynamic and interesting; imagine what this would sound like if they were done by The Beach Boys? In my mind, it gets better (and higher ranked) every year.

6. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – Plastic Ono Band. Sure, John and Yoko sing this classic tune from 1971, but this is really Phil Spector‘s bag. Multiple acoustic guitars (played by Badfinger), sleigh bells, percussion, shimmering strings (as only Phil could do). It’s Spector at the top of his game. The accompanying “official” video is disturbing, just as Lennon wanted it.

5. Morning Christmas – Dennis Wilson. Haunted and moody like the artist himself, a dense production with lots of synthesizer and bass harmonica; the tag at the end is breathtaking in its beauty. No pop artist before or after did music like Dennis Wilson did. Incredible.

4. In Praise Of Christmas – Loreena McKennitt. From To Drive The Dark Winter Away. Not a bad track on the entire CD, it’s (at least in my view) a must have for everyone’s Christmas music collection.

3. “O Holy Night” – Ricky Lee Jones. Backed by The Chieftains on their Bells Of Dublin release. I know what you’re thinking – Rickie Lee Jones??? – but listen – she does a great job. Nothing fancy, stunning in a folksy way. I love the way she pronounces the word “hear”. When she goes high it’s very pretty.

2. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” – The Ronettes. OK, I know what you’re thinking – there goes The Great White Shank again, off on another Ronettes / Phil Spector tangent. For the sake of brevity all I’ll say is this: y’all know what I think about The Ronettes and Phil’s Christmas album, so let’s just leave it at that. It really doesn’t get a whole lot better than this – and I’m not talkin’ Christmas music, I’m talking classic pop music in general.

1. Blue Christmas. You know who does it. The absolute freakin’ best pop Christmas song ever recorded, hands down. Sparse piano, guitar, stand-up bass, the Jordanaires, all backing the King. How on God’s green earth do you improve on that? You don’t. Two minutes and nine seconds of perfection.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:19 | Comments (2)
  1. Make my wish come truuuuuuuuuuuuu
    all I want for christmas is “Mariah Carey”.

    No#1. and on my ipod.


    Comment by Ron "Cubby" Myerow — December 19, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

  2. Great to hear from you, Cub! Hope all is well and that you find a Mariah facsimile for a “Happy New Year” kiss! There’s gotta be a couple of ’em looking for a hot dude like you in the bars and clubs of Salem…

    Comment by The Great White Shank — December 21, 2012 @ 8:39 pm

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