Last week the Girl and I visited the tree festival put on by our local children's hospital. Trees are decorated by individuals and organizations and they are sold to benefit the hospital. When I saw this retro tree I thought it was perfect picture for this week's mix-tape since it is all about Christmas music.
I actually love Christmas Music, in fact it's one of my favorite things about Christmas. So the hardest part of this week's mix tape is getting it down to 5 choices. Those who know me well may note the absence of a certain flannel puppet with ping pong ball eyes. That's because I am giving the Muppets their own playlist in a couple weeks.
Happy Christmas (War is Over)
This is my daughter's favorite John Lennon song. She thinks of it as a happy song, but for me its very melancholy because the first time I remember hearing it get a lot of airplay was December of 1980, after John Lennon's murder. This is the classic version of the song, but I have to cheat a little and post another version as well that is special to me.
The morning after the horrendous events at Sandy Hook last year, I sat down to watch the episode of Colbert that I had taped on Thursday night. All week he had celebrities on performing Christmas songs, and on this night he had wrapped things up with Sean Lennon, Jeff Tweedy and Mavis Staples performing, you guessed it, Happy Christmas. Needless to say I cried my eyes out, but it was a good cry, and a reminder that this song and Christmas are both all about hope.
The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth
Today, when David Bowie is such a mainstream figure, its hard for people to understand what a mind warp it was to see him on TV performing a duet with Bing Crosby. I actually had this on a 45 back in the day. It was also the very last of Bing Crosby's Christmas Specials, a major TV event each year when I was young. I am sure watching this was the first time my dad and mom ever saw David Bowie.
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Last year I wrote about how so many classic Christmas songs were born in wartime, from I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day to White Christmas to Happy Christmas (War is Over). This song was written in response to the Cold War--specifically the Cuban Missile Crisis. As the world teetered on the edge of nuclear disaster, it seemed a good to time think about Peace on Earth. This is my favorite version, maybe because it was recorded at the time, or maybe just because it was Bing Crosby (I could have easily done a whole list of just his recordings too) but I think this version is the best.
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
This was a favorite when I was a child too, even before I knew the backstory: that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the original poem during the Civil War (which his sons were serving in) at a time when the war was going badly for the North, and it truly did appear that "hate was strong/and mocked the song/of peace on earth good will to men." I have heard many versions, but Harry Belafonte tops them all.
Have a Holly Jolly Christmas
Competition for the final spot was fierce, with at least a dozen candidates vying for the crown. (I have a feeling I will be revisiting this topic soon.)
My husband suggested this song, which is one of his favorites, from the TV production Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer, Rudolf was a great favorite of my childhood. Naturally I want Burl Ives, aka Sam the Snowman to sing it.
This leaves a lot of favorites out in the cold (so to speak) including a lot of Bing Crosby, Gene Autry, and a lot more contemporary performers as well. The Christmas play list on my IPOD has some 20 songs, and I still don't have all the ones I want. But we will stop here for now. One thing about Christmas music, it doesn't go away.
This post is part of Twisted Mix Tape, hosted by Jen Kehl at My Skewed View. To see what songs other bloggers have on their play lists click here.