Monday, December 2, 2013

Twisted Mix Tape--Christmas Music That Doesn't Make Me Crazy




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.
 
 
 
 
 

17 comments:

  1. Oh do I feel your pain. It was so so hard for me to pair mine down. But lucky for me I have Raised on the Radio on Sunday and will be doing a Christmas playlist over there, ha! But it doesn't cover my fave oldie songs from the good old Christmas specials. I feel another post coming on as well!
    Really love this list. Bing is synonymous with Christmas, isn't he?

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    1. Thanks Jen. I really had a hard time paring this down. I could do one of just Bing Crosby, and another of Gene Autry, and how about those Muppets....

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  2. It's hard isn't? There really isn't a lot of great songs to pick from.

    good list

    Merry Christmas

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    1. Doing this list made me crazy, though my husband, daughter and I had a lot of fun going over suggestions on the long car ride, taking our son back to school after Thanksgiving break.

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  3. Aha! Great minds, right? We're two for two on this list. ;)

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    1. Great minds indeed. Do they know it's Christmas was on my long list, but didn't make the final cut.

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  4. That Burl Ives tune is fabulous.

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    1. It was a touch call between Holly Jolly Christmas and Silver and Gold.

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  5. YEah, I know exactly what you mean. I spent all of Sunday picking and choosing then today, when putting the mixtape together, I just wanted to keep going and going!! Burl Ives was on my list, but I'll save it for another day. These are great songs, and thanks for the history lesson!

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    1. Thanks SAM, glad you enjoyed it. I tend to be a very trivially minded person, and can't write a piece like this without telling about the songs.

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  6. I included Happy Xmas too but that other version? OMG I'm sitting here sobbing. Beautiful, and how much Sean sounds like John! Thanks for this one. Wow.

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    1. Glad you like the Happy Xmas too Lois., I was afraid I wouldn't be able to find it on You Tube, but there it was thank goodness. Stumbling across that video last year when I did was light in a very dark forest.

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  7. When I was in fifth grade chorus we had to sing "Have A Holly Jolly Christmas" for our holiday show. So after that, whenever I heard the song on the radio, I was like, "Wow, how did OUR chorus song get on the radio???"

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    1. That's great Angel. I guess a lot of kids have sung it over the years, its such an upbeat song.

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    2. And funny how we tend to think of a piece as "our song" no matter how old or how many people have performed it.

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  8. I love this list, especially War is Over!

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    1. Thank you Michelle, glad you enjoyed it!

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