December 30, 2006
For the next 11 months, we’ll be running our sister blog, Indian Dance Music. Stop by and check us out—you’ll find something to like.
Here are two final songs for the holiday season—one for New Years and one for my cousin.
I’ll Be Home With Bells One – Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers
Auld Lang Syne – Frank C. Stanley
Indian Dance Music
December 20, 2006
Well, One last outpouring of songs and then it's time to close up the workshop for the year. It's been a blast, and I hope you've all enjoyed the songs as much as us! Look forward to greater things in the coming year, and be sure to check out JV's other blog, Indian Dance Music, as well. I might even appear there, too. Happy, safe, fun, glittering holidays to all!
They Might Be Giants: Santa's Beard
This is for, and was recommended by, my dear Nicole. The kooky, clever, boisterous Giants.
Sarah McLachlan: In the Bleak Midwinter
This is a request of a great, great song. JV posted it earlier.
Alvin & The Chipmunks: Please Christmas Don't Be Late
Great song. I still want a hula hoop!
Darlene Love: Winter Wonderland
We love her here at 77 Santas. You can not post her songs enough. Also, if I repeat myself, forgive me. It's all good stuff though.
John Fahey: Good King Wenceslas
Roger Miller: Little Toy Trains
The O'Jays: Christmas Just Ain't Christmas (Without the One You Love)
Stevie Wonder: That's What Christmas Means to Me
Willie Nelson: Pretty Paper
Jimeney Cricket: Twas the Night Before Christmas
Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton: I'll Be Home With Bells On
This is for JV, who thought of it after he was home. His father used to listen to this every year. Here's to him, JV. Knowing you I know your dad must have been one hell of a man.
Those Silly Dogs and Cats Barking Jingle Bells
Ridiculous, I know. And that's how we end it. Joy to the world!!!!!!!!
December 19, 2006
December 18, 2006
Well, I can't really number my all time favorites, so I'm just going to re-post songs I love alot. See recent posts, as well. Here goes.
Jose Feliciano: Feliz Navidad
Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song
Jackson 5: Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Gene Autry: Up On the Rooftop
Joni Mitchell: River
Palace Songs: Christmastime in the Mountains
The Flaming Lips: Christmas at the Zoo
Bing Crosby: White Christmas
Loretta Lynn: Country Christmas
Lou Monte: Dominic The Donkey
Nat King Cole: Deck the Halls
Ray Charles: The Spirit of Christmas
Vince Guaraldi: Christmas Time is Here (Vocal)
Ok, there will be more, I promise! 2 days of blogging left for me, then home! One week away!
Here's a few more tunes before I get to my big Favorites list. I'll start off with some more from one of my all time favorite bands, My Morning Jacket. As previously mentioned, these are off their album, "My Morning Jacket Does Xmas Fiasco Style". It's a great little album. Buy it and everything they're recorded. Also, see them live. You will not be dissapointed. I am reposting a few from earlier, too.
My Morning Jacket:
This is a Nick Cave song.
I Just Wanted To Say
Xmas Time is Here Again
These two are written by Jim James, lead singer and gun slinger.
As we've mentioned many times, we are both HUGE fans of the Phil Spector Christmas album. I myself first heard some of these songs in Goodfellas (The scene after the big heist, when all the idiots are flashing their wealth and Jimmy Conway gets angry). This stuff is so tremendous. It sounds like it was recorded 30 years ago, it sounds like it was recorded this morning...
The Crystals: Parade of the Wooden Soldiers
Darlene Love: Winter Wonderland
The Ronettes: I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
and Frosty the Snowman
I'm sure we've doubled or tripled up on these, but it's ok cuz they're so good.
More coming soon. PC
December 17, 2006
This is alot of fun. Really. I love doing this! Gonna drop some new (and familiar) songs here, and I'm working on my favorite all time songs list. This is hard and might take some time. Hopefully by tonight. It's tough out here without JV, but I'll do my best to spread cheer for the both of us. May his plane drop him safely in PA, and may his dial up internet allow him to at least check the blog once or twice!
The Andrews Sisters: The Christmas Tree Angel
As you can see, we have fallen in love with these Sisters.
Satchmo: White Christmas
Otis Redding: White Christmas
A few classics by two of the greatest ever.
Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer: Baby, it's Cold Outside
Ok, this shall do for now. More coming, I promise.
December 16, 2006
I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Tift Merritt
Calling On Mary – Aimee Mann
Go Power At Christmastime – James Brown
Nut Rocker – B. Bumble and the Stringers
I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday – Roy Wood and Wizzard
We've posted like 70 songs today! Sweet Santa in a sleigh!
PC, it’s been a pleasure. It’s all yours.
Andrews Sisters: Christmas Island
JV and I are in agreeance on this one!
Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys: Christmas Time's A-Comin'
Damn straight it is!
Etta James: Merry Christmas Baby
Merle Haggard: If we make it through December
Good God Merle Haggard is amazing.
Ray Conniff Singers: Here We Come A-Caroling
Rosemary Clooney: Suzy Snowflake
The Crystals: Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Marvin Gaye: I Want to Come Home for Christmas
How relevant is this song still? Then again, it's Marvin, who's forever relevant. This is hands down one of my all time favorite Christmas songs, and I wish I had heard it sooner.
John Fahey: Medley: The Holly and the Ivy/The Cherry Tree Carol
I wonder what John Fahey dreamt about.
I don't know if this is ten, but what the hell. Here's some more goodies:
Jackie Wilson: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Canned Heat: Christmas Blues
Try, try again
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: Jingle Bells
Dylan considers Smokey the best American poet ever. What do you think?
Lena Horne: Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!
Seriously, let it. What's with this 50 degree crap?!
Diana Ross and the Supremes: Joy to the World
Spinal Tap: Christmas with the Devil
There's a fine line between clever and stupid
More to come, including my Top Ten Favorites ever, and much, much more!
Safe travels to you JV! Thanks again for the gifts, you kind soul.
As promised, it’s time for my countdown of my favorite Christmas songs of all time. I tried to keep it to ten but there are just too many that I love too much and couldn’t exclude. So, here’s the top fifteen. I’ve written about many of these already. I could write a blurb for every song but suffice it to say that they are all personal to me and many are rooted in my childhood memories.
Thanks to everyone who’s read the site—and remember, keep reading, because PC still has some goodies left. It’s been a blast and I can’t wait to do it all over again next Christmas; we already have some plans on where we can take 77 Santas next year.
Until then, have a safe, happy, warm, fun—whatever you want it to be—holiday.
15. Sleigh Ride – The Ronettes
14. Please Come Home for Christmas – Charles Brown
13. Santa Claus Is Watching You by Ray Stevens
12. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee
11. Santa Claus Is Back In Town by Elvis Presley
10. In the Bleak Midwinter by The King’s College Choir
by Sarah McLachlan
9. I’ll Be Home for Christmas by The Beach Boys
8. Little Toy Trains by Roger Miller
7. Carol of the Bells by John Williams
6. This Time of Year by Brook Benton
5. Little Saint Nick by The Beach Boys
4. O Holy Night by Nat King Cole
by The Vienna Boys’ Choir
3. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by Mel Torme
by Judy Garland
by Sarah McLachlan
2. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon
1. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Darlene Love
Here are 20 tracks we’ve yet to post. This is just a warm-up for my list of my favorite Christmas songs in 2006.
Jingle Bells – Earl Scruggs
O Come All Ye Faithful – Nat King Cole
Donde Esta Santa Claus – Augie Rios
It Came Upon A Midnight Clear – Burl Ives
I Believe In Father Christmas – Greg Lake
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – Theresa Brewer
Home for the Holidays – Perry Como
The First Noel – Elvis Presley
Silent Night – Elvis Presley
Please Come Home for Christmas – Charles Brown
I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Frank Sinatra
We Need a Little Christmas – The Ray Coniff Singers
Christ Was Born on Christmas Morn – Cotton Top Mountain Sanctified Singers
Frosty the Snowman – The Ronettes
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – The Ronettes
Gift X-change – Calexico
The Christmas Song – Aimee Mann
Auld Lang Syne – Frank C. Stanley
And now for 10 reposts. I already posted my top ten discovered songs this year. These are just some more favorites that didn’t make that list or my all-time top ten list. Of course, we must start with “77 Santas,” the song for which our blog is named.
77 Santas – Gayla Peevey
Hardrock, Coco, and Joe – The Three Little Dwarves
In the Bleak Midwinter – John Fahey
It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way – Jim Croce
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Sarah McLachlan
Just Like Christmas – Low
The Man With All the Toys – The Beach Boys
Papa Noel – Brenda Lee
Hard Candy Christmas – Dolly Parton
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – John Fahey
December 15, 2006
Sheesh! So sorry for all the hubbub. It's been a terribly long day. I will repost some songs that didn't work, and try to get something else out tonight too if I can. If not, I'll post like a maniac tomorrow!
Canned Heat: Christmas Blues
Harry Simone Chorale: Little Drummer Boy
Grandma got Pummeled
Eddie Money: Everybody Loves Christmas
The Kinks: Father Christmas
Lynyrd Skynyrd: Run Run Rudolph
This weird "Reggae" song I found
Since JV posted the fabulous Christmas Island, I will spare myself. I will follow up soon with an answer to JV's interview questions and with more. Also, if something is expired or not working, tell us what you want to hear! We take requests.
Until then, here’s an interview PC and I did with each other about Christmas. It’s fun and has the first of many lists at the end.
JV: Let’s start out in a broad sense: talk me about your love of Christmas. Has it always been this fervent? When did the love of Christmas music start to escalate?
PC: My love of Christmas probably began when my brain started to recognize that once a year we brought a tree into our house and a few weeks later there were many presents under said tree. My love of Christmas as an adult--its ferventness (is that a word?)--probably springs from the fact that , like most people, I wish I could be ten again. This time of year lets me do that with the least amount of guilt/shame. Nostalgia is a terrible and dangerous thing. Here's a few things I love about Christmas. In no order. 1. The world becomes much like the set of a play and I'm all about escaping the everyday. 2. Shiny Things3. Food, Drink, Gifts4. Fire/Smell of woodsmoke, smell of pine, all the smells. 5. Being with family. 6. Snow!7. The music, which brings me to the second part of the question. My love of Christmas music starts and ends with Nat King Cole. Hear my blurbing of this on the blog. When did it start to escalate? Hard to say--I think it's been a slow climb since youth. I hear new songs every year. I must say that I never, ever thought I'd be a part of a Christmas music blog. I like it.
JV: For me, movies play just a big of a part of Christmas. It’s impossible to approach the holiday season and not think of George Bailey’s promise to lasso the moon or the Old Man struggle with that leg lamp. What movies stick out for you? Are there any dark-horse favorites that others might not know about?
PC: Well, I of course love all of the Classics. My favorite "Classic" is "Christmas Vacation" followed closely by "Christmas Story". I'm not sure if it's a dark horse or not, but the movie I really, really love to watch around the holidays is "Beautiful Girls". Nothing so keenly captures the feeling of returning home in winter as an adult, to all your old buddies and family, quite like this movie. Although I've never fallen for a 13 year old on a trip back home, thankfully. Still, this movie is one of my favorites ever and I really wish I could watch it right now.
JV: Beautiful Girls is great. My somewhat unknown Christmas movie is One Magic Christmas. It was releated by Disney in 1985 and is incredibly dark for a family film. But Harry Dean Stanton plays an angel named Gideon who helps out two children.
In the past few years, you’ve lived in Ohio, North Carolina, and now Chicago. What’s the biggest difference you’ve seen in those places in how they celebrate Christmas? Or, just in general, the atmosphere amongst the population at those places?
PC: The biggest difference is weather. In North Carolina they dream of a rainy Christmas, er something. There must be snow. The spirit was present in North Carolina, but it simply wasn't home, wasn't the midwest. There are plenty of songs about this. Chicago and Cleveland being two large midwestern cities, I find this time of year to be wonderfully similar. It's great here in Chicago, but I can't wait to go home. Then it will really feel like Christmas. I plan to sled and hike in snowy forests. We'll see if I get lucky.
JV: Some weeks back, you lambasted Burl Ives in a post, calling him a “creep.” I believe this was in reference to a ling in “Holly, Jolly Christmas,” when Burl asks someone to “kiss her once for me” under the mistletoe. Though we run the site together, I found your criticism observant but also a little harsh. What if, for instance, Ives, as the narrator of the song, was asking the listener to kiss an ex-wife or ex-girlfriend? Or even someone he’s secretly harbored love for over the years? In my mind, I wondered if perhaps this was the case—Ives was urging the listener to kiss this woman so that Ives could have a kind of surrogate satisfaction. What do you make of this theory? Does it change your opinion of him? Or do you think that Burl Ives, quite frankly, was a bearded pervert, seeking to kiss or fondle any woman that he could find?
PC: What you've failed to mention here, that you mentioned on the phone to me is that you thought of all this while in the shower. Now, I find it a bit strange that you think about Burl Ives in the shower. I digress. If ol Burl wants to live vicariously through me, that's his business. I don't really think he needed to sing about it. The short answer is that my answer hasn't changed, really.
You have a pretty impressive collection of Christmas movies. When did that collecting start? What are some of your favorite holiday movies?
JV: I’m not sure when it started exactly—probably in the early to mid 90s. Home Alone is what started it for me. I’ve talked about that movie in previous posts but it remains one of my favorites. It still makes me laugh but I’m also very wistful of that film. A Christmas Story has to be my favorite holiday film—I adore that film. Darren McGavin, who played The Old Man, died this year. When he died, I read someone who said that everybody wanted to have Gregory Peck’s Atticus Finch as their father but in actuality, most people had McGavin’s The Old Man.
PC: If you had to choose a place that wasn't North Carolina or your home town in Pennsylvania, where would you spend Christmas and why?
JV: A snowy and small New England town. The house would have a wood stove and windows overlooking a sleepy country valley. Somewhere quiet and nice. That’s the practical answer. But if I could somehow live in an alternate universe, I’d pick a place without this war in Iraq . I really try to keep the troops who are overseas and their families back home in my thoughts all year, but never more so than the holidays.
PC: What are the best and worst gifts you ever received/given?
JV: An ex-girlfriend’s parents once gave two gifts which might not have been the worst but were the strangest. A paperback edition of the screenplay to L.A. Confidential. Now, I like that film just fine, but I have no idea why in the hell they would buy me that. Also, they bought me one of those little hardback writing journals—thoughtful, since I’m a writer—but it had a large picture of the American flag on the front. It’s not that I dislike the stars and stripes, but it just seemed weird.
The best gift would be my Super Nintendo. It certainly got the most use of any gift in my life no doubt. That was the golden age of video gaming and it seemed that games had never been more fun. It’s one of the reasons I bought a Wii last month—that system allows you to download old SNES games, among other systems, and play.
PC: Since we've started this blog, we've discovered a lot of new music. You're a fan of lists--what are your top ten favorite NEW songs? When I say new I mean new to you this season, not new is an Clay Aiken. If Clay Aiken appears on this list I am off the blog.
JV: There are many. We’ve heard a ton of great songs this year, thanks to our searching and also through our friends at other Christmas blogs. This took some time and thinking, but here’s my list, in no particular order. I'd of course heard "God Rest..." before, but I love that Jigsaw Seen version so much, I had to put it on the list.
Christmas Island – The Andrews Sisters with Guy Lombardo
A Christmas Wish – Bobby Goldsboro
Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day – Brenda Lee
Another Christmas At Home – Eux Autres
Christmas On the Beach – Irene
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen – Jigsaw Seen
I Won’t Decorate Your Christmas Tree – Loretta Lynn
Mama’s Twistin’ with Santa Claus – Mark Anthony
Darlin’ (Christmas Is Coming) – Over the Rhine
Christmas Eve – Teenage Fanclub
What about you, PC?
(To be continued...)
December 14, 2006
No, Santa didn’t die. We’re just having some technical problems tonight.
Seems both PC and I have exceeded our download limit at Yousendit.com. I exceeded mine by about 280% and they give you 4 GBs of free storage! That’s a lot of exceeding on my part. I’m not sure why exactly—as many of you know, those files only exist for 100 downloads or seven days, whichever comes first. So, in theory, the files should disappear in at least seven days. Perhaps that many people are downloading our songs and it’s causing problems—we really have no idea how many people check the site. We’re novices at this. But we hope it's due to high readership, not our poor bloggmanship.
I started a new account through yousendit—my post today is from this account and those songs (Neko Case, The Ronettes, etc.) should be fine; they are for me at least. However, all previous files don’t work right now. We’ll have to re-upload everything. Or perhaps switch filesending sites or buy more space and better accounts—we’re also cheap novices!
So, hang in there. It’s late tonight but we’ll work hard to repair things tomorrow.
But before that, we’ve got some Christmas song. A whole lot of Christmas songs!
Christmas Card from A Hooker in Minneapolis – Neko Case
I know that we’ve already posted Tom Waits’ live version of this track. Honestly, I just wanted this as an excuse to post a picture of Neko Case and to listen to her voice which, to me, is one of the greatest contemporary voices in music. Sometimes her vocals give me chills.
Carol of the Bells – John Williams
No, the acclaimed composer doesn’t sing on this track, but he did produce it for Home Alone. This really is one of my favorite holiday songs and this is a brief but beautiful rendition.
Carol of the Bells – Trans Siberian Orchestra with Metallica
This searing version comes from their collaborative Christmas album. It earns a lot of airplay on radio stations during the season—I heard it today in the car. Never ceases to make me pound my foot along or nod my head to the beat. Actually, it’s probably best no one tries to imagine my convulsing body during this song.
O Little Town of Bethlehem – Frank Sinatra
Ole Blue Eyes does this song justice, naturally.
Silent Night – Martina McBride
McBride has one of the most beautiful voices in country music today. Her tender vocals on this song showcase her talent—anyone who heard her hit “Independence Day,” a somewhat groundbreaking song about spousal abuse, knows that her vocals can also soar.
Sleigh Ride – The Ronettes
Yeah, we love us some Phil Specter production at 77 Santas.
Sleigh Ride – The Boston Pops
And yet another version. Complete with whip snaps. Nothing like a whip to bring in the holidays.
I know this song is dumb and overplayed, but I have to post it because this actually happened to my Grandma. This photo is of her, shortly before what my family now refers to as "The incident that some assholes wrote a dumb song about."
As for me and Grandpa, we perceive.
Ho Ho Ho Not
Another sack full of goodies, kids!
Canned Heat: Christmas Blues
My mom snuck into a hotel and swam with these guys when she was younger. This is all I know of them, aside from their hit about going to the country. This is nice.
Eddie Money: Everybody Loves Christmas
And everybody loves Eddie Money, whether they know it or not.
Lynyrd Skynyrd: Run Run Rudolph
God how I love this band! Give me a 12 pack, a back porch, and a Skynyrd CD and I'm content.
Spinal Tap: Christmas With the Devil
Does Christmas go to 11? I'll take this "non-band" over many of the "bands" currently playing on the radio.
The Kinks: Father Christmas
This one's for Pookie. I love the honesty of this song: "Hey Santa, just give us some money." Plus, um, it's the Kinks.
Andrews Sisters and Guy Lombardo: Christmas Island
Possibly my favorite "song I never heard til this year." Such a great sound! And who wouldn't want Santa to deliver their gifts via canoe?
Harry Simone Chorale: Little Drummer Boy
Great version. This plays on the radio here alot.
December 13, 2006
Well, I'm a bit exhausted, too. All this end of semester grading is for sucks. Still, I can put it off by posting songs!
These by the Vienna Boys Choir
Carol of the Bells
O Holy Night
Gloria in Excelsis Deo
I believe this is our first posting of this song. I like it alot. It's translation, I believe, is as follows: '"Gloria" (the song) is excellent. So is Dio (The metal Band)'. My latin is rusty. So is my Chevrolet. Hey, that was intertextual!
The Carpenters: Merry Christmas Darling
It doesn't get any more adult contempo than this, but it's not bad.
Mavis Staples: Christmas Vacation (theme)
Love this song. Really wish I could watch the movie but I'm having DVD issues. I wish these were my only issues, but what can you do. Shut up Harold. No, you shut up Marty.
Oops, sorry. Multiple Personalities is another of my issues.
The Boss: Santa Claus is Coming To Town
Always good to end with a rocker.
Angels We Have Heard on High - Sufjan Stevens
O Come O Come Emmanuel - Sufjan Stevens
Christmas Is... - Lou Rawls
I'll Be Home for Christmas - John Prine
Busy few days for me. I've been spending quite a bit of time working on the lit journal I help edit. Check it out; Ecotone would make the perfect gift for your very literate uncle!
We'll be back Thursday and will soon start counting down our favorite holiday tracks of all time.
As promised, we will feature some versions of "The Twelve Days of Christmas". I might even throw in a few other surprises.
Alvin and The Chipmunks
John Denver and The Muppets
The Waitresses: Christmas Wrapping
OK. That's all for now. More later. I'm tired.
December 12, 2006
Tom Waits – Silent Night/A Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis
What never ceases to amaze me about Waits is his knack for just pure storytelling. The details of this song, from a stolen record to name-checking Little Antony and the Imperials, are strikingly keen observations on the human condition. This is a live version from Austin City Limits. EV, another one for you!
All I Ever Get for Christmas Is Blue – Over the Rhine
This Cincinnati band has a new Christmas album out. Unlike most, their album is made entirely of new, original material. This is a great, melancholy song that sounds like a snowy evening.
Listening to Otis Redding At Home During Christmas – Okkervil River
They draw a lot of comparisons to Bright Eyes. There is a lot of songs that I dislike by Bright Eyes—too abrasive and self-indulgent for me. But there are some that I really admire and enjoy. I feel that exact same way about Okkervil River. This is one that I like quite a bit. Another quiet song with some nice images sprinkled throughout.
Little Drummer Boy – Mark Kozelek
Within a few seconds of hearing Kozelek’s voice, I am usually driven into a deep depression. “Glenn Tipton” by Sun Kil Moon remains one of my favorite songs of the decade—it just rips me apart. This comes from his recent live CD.
As of Monday, 399 stations from Maine to Hawaii were playing Christmas tunes around the clock to bring in listeners and advertising dollars. Portland has two stations competing over holiday listeners, and some cities have as many as five or six.
Most of the programming kicked off after Thanksgiving; the earliest station made the switch in October before trick or treaters made the rounds.
"It's gotten to the point of ridiculousness," said Tim Moore, operations manager at Portland's WHOM-FM, which began broadcasting its holiday programming on the day after Thanksgiving.
Ridiculous or not, Americans can't get enough of it, said Tom Taylor, editor of Inside Radio, a trade publication owned by Clear Channel.
The number of stations playing those timeless holiday songs already outnumbers the previous record of 386 in 2003, the first year Inside Radio began tracking the numbers, Taylor said from his office in Trenton, New Jersey.
"Christmas music, for most people, puts a smile on your face. Even if you resist it for a while, you can't hold out forever," he said.
The deluge of Christmas airplay may yield a few humbugs, but it succeeds nearly universally in boosting ratings, industry officials say.
For listeners, the nostalgic music creates a soundtrack as they shop, wrap presents, decorate trees, bake cookies and go to parties.
"It's like a counterpoint to all of the misery in the world. That's the only thing I can figure out," said Phil Crosland, executive vice president of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in New York.
Behind the holiday cheer and goodwill are strong ratings: Portland's WHOM sees a 38 percent bump in the number of listeners after it switches its format from adult contemporary to 24-7 holiday music.
In New York City, WLTW-FM sees a 25 percent increase in listeners even in one of the most nation's diverse markets, said Jim Ryan, programming director.
In Milwaukee, WMYX-FM saw a jump of nearly 50 percent last year despite holiday competition from three other radio stations, said Brian Kelly, operations manager. The year before that, the station's listenership grew nearly 100 percent in December.
"People from the outside may ask why we do this," Kelly said. "The answer is because it works, and that's what our listeners want."
The vast holiday treasure chest includes offerings from artists as varied as Jessica Simpson, B.B. King, Barenaked Ladies, Regis Philbin, Bruce Springsteen and Twisted Sister.
At WHOM, it's Moore's responsibility to review the countless new holiday offerings each season. Most of them end up in the trash bin because they can't compete with "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Frosty the Snowman," "Let It Snow" and other classics.
Occasionally, newer artists manage to break into the rotation. A couple of recent examples are Josh Groban's "Believe" from the movie "The Polar Express" and Faith Hill's "Where are you Christmas?" from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," he said.
But listeners seem to prefer the old songs like Crosby's "White Christmas," Cole's "The Christmas Song," Ives' "A Holly Jolly Christmas," Bobby Helms' "Jingle Bell Rock" and Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Round the Christmas Tree."
"It's a sad fact and a sad reality that there are 30 to 50 Christmas songs that research really well. We already know them," said Moore. "They don't want Clay Aiken's version of 'White Christmas.' They want Bing Crosby, for the most part."
'It kills me every year'
For some, it's just too much.
"It's terrible. It kills me every year. It's the same songs over and over," said Jake Millett, 21, of Portland, who's subjected to it every Christmas Eve at his grandmother's house. He rolled his eyes when a co-worker talked about "the holiday spirit."
At the other extreme is Stacey Milliken, who can't get enough. She likes the fact that oldies station WYNZ is giving WHOM some competition this year, and she flicks back and forth between the two stations while driving in her car.
"I think it's a great idea. It gets everybody in the spirit, but I can completely understand how some people would get sick of it," said Milliken, 30, of Portland.
It's hard to say exactly when the trend began, but one consultant traces it to the 1980s when he began recommending that radio stations play holiday music on the day after Thanksgiving, a time when Americans flock to malls to begin their Christmas shopping.
Eventually it got to the point that many adult contemporary stations extended the holiday music from Thanksgiving to Christmas, said Dan Vallie, president, chairman and CEO of Vallie Richards Donovan Consulting, who's a pioneer in recommending the format.
"I think it's one of the most significant and successful programming strategies in the past couple of decades," Vallie said.
The holiday change can make sense for a radio station trying to stand out in a time of change: radio advertising has been flat and radio executives worry about listeners migrating to podcasts, MP3 players and satellite radio.
"A 30-day music format change is evidence of the need by radio stations to chase dollars in a shrinking ad environment," said Laura A. Martin, senior media analyst at Soleil Securities in Pasadena, California.
Though it's an inexact science, a bump in ratings typically means a bump in advertising rates.
And advertisers likely see a correlation in either goodwill or sales by getting involved in the holiday format, said Matt Feinberg, senior vice president and director of radio for Zenith Media in New York.
"It's a tradition," Feinberg said. "From an advertiser point of view, it's an evergreen special they can buy into."
The top 10 Christmas songs played on radio the week after Thanksgiving:
1. Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree, Brenda Lee
2. A Holly Jolly Christmas, Burl Ives
3. Jingle Bell Rock, Bobby Helms
4. Feliz Navidad, Jose Feliciano
5. The Christmas Song, Nat King Cole
6. White Christmas, Bing Crosby
7. Please Come Home For Christmas, The Eagles
8. It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, Andy Williams
9. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) John Lennon
10. It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, Johnny Mathis
December 11, 2006
As you can see, we are, not unlike Santa Claus, working overtime. Here's another smattering of Nat King Cole, my favorite singer of Christmas songs. He's the best. No rambling this time, just music. I have to grade papers. Insert cuss words here.
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Away in a Manger
Deck the Halls
Hark, The Herald Angels Sing
Oh Come All Ye Faithful
Joy to the World
The First Noel
In the meantime, here’s some more Christmas music. On the local Christmas station the other day, I heard a Beach Boys song that I just to share. I centered this post around them, but some holiday leftovers from PC’s Blue Christmas post from earlier today spilled over as well. Some great tunes all around I think. Enjoy.
Christmas Eve – Teenage Fanclub
Christmas On the Beach – Irene
Merry Christmas, Baby – The Beach Boys
Back Door Santa – Clarence Carter
I'll Be Home for Christmas – The Beach Boys
I’ll Be Home for Christmas – The Mills Brothers
I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Sleepington
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Jigsaw Seen
Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley
Blue Christmas – Seymour Swine and the Squealers
The Christmas Spirit – Johnny Cash
Let me close with a plug for IDM, our sister blog. This week, I’m posting my Best Lists of 2006. Today, we focus on movies. Check back throughout the week for television, rediscovered songs, albums, songs, and more. There will be downloads too. After the first of the year, we’ll be updating IDM regularly with music for everyone.
As promised, we are here with the first of many themed posts for the week. We'll kick it off with versions of the classic song of christmas heartache, "Blue Christmas". I plan to post other things today as well. This will be a heavy week of Christmas music, so fasten your seat belts. JV will follow with more today, as well. It's two weeks away...
Ann and Nancy Wilson
Ah, Heart. What a rockin' band. I think their song "Magic Man" is about Santa Claus. Or me. I'm not sure. I'll email them to find out.
Ah, Dean. You make the whole state of Ohio proud.
Harry Connick Jr.
I heard this version on the radio and I really liked it, which was surprising. I believe he's most memorable, though, for his work on Will and Grace. He's so funny! And aloof!
I love songs that take me far, far away from the present. This song does just that. Hands down my favorite version. Eat your peanut butter and banana heart out, Elvis.
Ok, since I'm on a roll, I will add even more to the collective stocking. My Uncle Sweat Tooth, he actually hangs one of his dirty socks on his mantle. His house stinks! The smell of pine can't even defeat it! This post is for my Uncle Sweat Tooth.
Here's a couple duets of the great "Baby It's Cold Outside".
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
More Ella coming in a minute. I love this version because they cut up for a while before getting into the song. The beauty of live performances.
Ray Charles and Betty Carter
Never heard this one before. The file says it's Ella but the file lies.
Ella Fitzgerald: Let it Snow
Ella Fitzgerald: Good Morning Blues
I have this cassette that's a split Nat King Cole/Ella Fitzgerald Christmas album. It's awesome. I remember listening to it in my living room with JV and our friend Pookie. It for some reason caused Pookie to improvise a little rap song. Classic.
Louis Armstrong: White Christmas
Everything great has already been said about Satchmo, but I'd like to add this: He had the greatest set of cheeks to ever grace a human face.
Jackson 5: Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
The drums on this song are SICK! Is there anything that Motown didn't do right?
Arthur Fielder and Boston Pops: Here We Come A Caroling Medley
I listen to this, like, everyday. I LOVE the Boston Pops!
The Ray Conniff Singers: Here We Come A Caroling
This song makes me feel weird.
That Song from The Grinch called Welcome Christmas
Eeerie is my middle name.
Enjoy! Uncle Sweat Tooth, I miss you! See you soon!
December 10, 2006
Just a few random findings from the past few days for now. JV and I are hard at work on a couple of great theme posts, in addition to other great things. Hopefully he's feeling better after his lashing out of yesterday.
Two versions of a great song:
Frank Sinatra: The Christmas Waltz
Peggy Lee: The Christmas Waltz
This is cheesy, I know, but I like it.
Dan Fogelberg: Same Old Lang Syne
Also a bit cheesy, but great.
Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton: I Believe in Santa Claus
Christmas Eve is two weeks away. I can't wait! If only I didn't have over 70 students worth of work to grade between now and then.
Here's another version of a song we've posted twice so far (this was also cause for JV to diss my "modern" version...). These boys kick out the jams. They're on the road right now. Go see them.
My Morning Jacket: Santa Claus is Back in Town
December 09, 2006
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – John Mellencamp
Oh, how I loathe this version. I don’t think my hatred has ever been as intense as it is this year because that wretched, faux-patriotic “This Is My Country” commercial that has aired repeatedly since The World Series—that song is so terrible, I’d rather punch myself in the jingle bells than have to endure it ever again. For Christmas, the Coug went to his closet of phony Americana sound and pulled out his accordion just to give this the feel of a real mid-Western hoe-down. But first, we have to listen to his snide guitar intro—I can hear him now: “Let’s creep into this thing and then give em a wallop!” But the worst—the children at the end. Did these kids drink too much Nyquil? Or come from some kind of group home for tone-deaf children? I’d take those smug, precocious tots from the Welch’s Grape Juice commercials any day over this sappy, unbearable chorus of kids.
Redneck 12 Days of Christmas – Jeff Foxworthy
You know, a few years ago it seemed that Jeff Foxworthy had all but fallen off the face of this Earth—and believe me, the Earth was a much better place during that time. But then he resurrected his same old tired “look at how stupid rednecks are” crap. It’s bad enough that modern country radio is plagued by the “redneck chic” movement. I saw a video of a song called "Hicktown" this year on CMT. It's about a redneck town that had dozens of beautiful women wearing tight jeans and halter tops. I grew up in what you could call a redneck town—we didn’t have women that looked like that—trust me. Yet these country artists portray the country life as wild and wacky—“Look at me, I’m a homophobic, racist, Bush-loving, Skoal-chewing, truck-driving guy. Ain’t it funny?” No, it’s not. Comedy Central, why must you constantly air the Blue Collar Comedy Tour at least one weekend a month? I don’t get it? Hell, put that ego-loving Dane Cook on—I hate him as well. “Look, I’m yelling! It must be funny! And I can reference things from the late 80s! Laugh and make me rich!” I’m sorry—mainstream standup comedy is just horrible. Bring me a Mitch Hedberg special, a Gaffigan special, or Steven Wright. Jeff Foxworthy? I’d like to rip this man’s mustache off his face. His “Redneck” days of Christmas feature flannel shirts, guns, huntun’ dogs, Spam, and some other crap I could care less about. And listen to how he does the conversation between himself and a more civilized character back and forth. And how he just can’t resist his old “you might a redneck if…” routine in the middle. I’ve laughed harder at terminal diseases than I have Jeff Foxworthy. His voice is like daggers to my ears and soul.
Christmas Shoes – Alabama
PC already posted a version of this song. Let me say it right now—I enjoy Alabama. They have some great country songs from the 80s. I can still sing many of them by heart. But this was the first version that I had heard of this awful song. First off, the narrator simply sits back and watches as this little boy spills his sob story about his mother. It’s so contrived—maple trees don’t produce sap this strong. And the narrator, that self-congratulatory blackheart, buys the shoes and then delivers his message of what Christmas is all about. It’s like giving to charity—if you do it, that’s great but don’t advertise your good will so people will like you more. Meanwhile the little boy goes home and waits for his mother to “meet Jesus.” Apparently she must not have heard this song or else she would have just offed herself. But wait—it ain’t over yet! Another children’s choir. Surely allowing children to sing this song qualifies as some kind of abuse. I mean, if kids can’t do drugs, why can they sing or listen to such sentimental, hokey trite.
And, as a bonus, here’s A Soldier’s Silent Night. You know, I feel a little guilty making fun of this song, but then I realized that I was victim to the manipulation. I think that I strained my eyes while rolling them.
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Cher and Rosie
Speaking of terminal diseases, I think that I may have contracted one after listening to this version of my beloved Christmas favorite. Where do I even start? Imagine two incredibly annoying celebrities collaborating—that alone would be awful. But it’s not bad enough for this song—add in some techno and Cher’s voice. You know, there are some Cher songs that I love. What happened to that Cher? This is wretched, melodramatic drivel with all the subtlety of a chainsaw. And the fact that this is my favorite Christmas song? God. I hope the proceeds from this song went to helping sick children or feeding starving people—please, Lord, let there have been some good that came from this.
Wonderful Christmas Time – Paul McCartney
This is the unequivocal worst Christmas song that receives airplay. Sure, I bet you could play something even worse for me. But nothing makes me cringe and grit my teeth like this. It’s too bad—I really like some of McCartney’s solo work. I don’t even know what kind of instrument creates that god-awful noise. I’ve heard cries from dying animals that I enjoy more than this electronic sound. And it goes on throughout this annoying, repetitive piece of trash. . That chorus—it doesn’t end. Just over and over again—“Simply having a wonderful Christmas time.” I get it! Shut up! Go fight your wife in court or something. Just please stop telling me how wonderful Christmas time is!
December 08, 2006
This is our penultimate entry in “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” series. There are some other versions out there—Hanson, Bon Jovi—but I prefer the covers that are actually worth listening to, ones that do something different. I keeping with the downbeat mood of the Death Cab version from last week, here’s another somber take on the classic by Arab Strap. The bad celebrated 10 years together in 2006 but sadly played their lost show together this week. For anyone familiar with their sound, I think that this song remains remarkably true. The brooding vocals and moody instrumentation add more melancholy than any other version. It sounds as if the band is so overcome that they might not even make it through to the finish. But don’t let me scare you—this is an inspired remake of Darlene Love’s classic and definitely offers something new to the song.
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Arab Strap
I know that PC already posted this song but this is one that you never hear enough. I have a few other versions, by The Polyphonic Spree and Sense Field, but ultimately, no cover compares to the emotion and immediacy of the original.
Today marks the 26th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder in New York City. I wasn’t even born at the time but when I was a kid, my mother always told me that while she was pregnant with me, Lennon, Reagan, and the Pope were all shot. It must have seemed a strange time to bring a child into the world. And, in a way, I suppose it would still feel like that today. I didn’t start listening to The Beatles and Lennon until high school. The thing that always strikes about The Beatles is the message in the music: it’s all about love.
I’ve always loved “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” but probably never more so than in the past few years. While the song was topical on its initial release, the song had sadly remained as relevant as ever and will probably always be. But it’s the message of this song that remains with me—war is over, if you want it.
Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon
December 07, 2006
Well, we won’t have to worry about the post-holiday blues for a little while yet. Let’s keep pulling out the music! We have lots of goodies planned for next week—I’m leaving 77 Santas (sniff, sniff) on December 17. I’m heading back to the dark ages where dial-up Internet, poor cable providers, devastating unemployment, and chronic xenophobia rule the land—of course I am talking about Central Pennsylvania! Don’t worry, PC will still be around for a bit. But don’t think I won’t go out with a big old bang of Christmas!
I’ve got a few follow-ups to the country and soul posts this week. First up, a trio of George Jones songs. I hope you’re checking out Big Rock Candy Mountain everyday—two of these are courtesy that blog. What else have you come to expect from the Opossum?
Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus (with Tammy Wynette)
My Mom and Santa Claus
Lonely Christmas Call
Lots more here today but geez, I don’t know if I can write up something for all of them. Enjoy the classics you might know already. Rock out to those that you don’t.
All I Want for Christmas – Santa’s Helpers
Two front teef!
Carol of the Drum – Jack Halloran Singers
One of the earliest versions of this song from the late 1950s. It’s great.
Santa’s Big Parade – The Louvin Brothers
See yesterday’s post about the fabulous Louvin Brothers.
Christmas Eve Can Kill You – The Everly Brothers
Not literally, right? Right?
Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas – The Staple Singers
Another soulful post. This is a great song that I hadn’t heard until this year.
Santa Claus is Back in Town – Elvis Presley
Dwight does a great version but no one does it like the King.
Run Rudolph Run – Chuck Berry
Okay. Who’s Randolph? I never understood that.
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Vaughn Monroe
My favorite version of this song. Played at the end of Die Hard 2: Die Harder.
Frosty the Snowman – Leon Redbone and Dr. John
This is for PC. I know that he absolutely loves Dr. John—in fact, I don’t think I’ve met anyone who adores the bearded, raspy voiced jazzman like PC. If you’re looking to get him something this Christmas, any Dr. John will do. Even if he already has it, chances are it’s already been worn out. Okay, so he actually hates Dr. John. What I love about this version is Leon Redbone.
Here's a few more gems for today. JV and I are hard at work and we anticipate bringing the house down next week.
Bruce Springsteen: Merry Christmas Baby
Otis Redding: Merry Christmas Baby
Two more versions of this classic!
Gene Autry: Up On The Roof Top
Don't think I've ever heard this, but I love it!
Stan Freberg: I'm Gettin' Nuttin' For Christmas
Cuz I ain't been nothin' but bad!
The Crystals: Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Another GREAT song off the Phil Spector Christmas album JV and I can't get enough of. I have to buy this. So, so, so good!
December 06, 2006
Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy – Buck Owens
There’s something about how Buck says “Down the chimney” that just makes me smile. Owens pioneered a new sound in country music. He was just cool. The Beatles covered “Act Naturally” and CCR references listen to Buck Owens while looking out the back door. And for any fan of Hee Haw, which I’m not afraid to admit that I enjoy it, will surely recognize the Buckeroo. Owens died in March of this year. Since it’s the end of the year, I’m glad that we’re looking back at his music. The song has been covered to death but no one sang it like Buck.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Ernest Tubb
Tubb’s been credited with the start of the honky tonk style. He was the first singer to record “Blue Christmas,” which we hope to get up soon in a big ole “Blue Christmas” post. He wasn’t known for the best voice, though I think it’s great. In fact, he often mocked his own voice. He once said that when his music came on in a bar, some guy would tell his girlfriend that he could sing better than Tubb. Tubb acknowledged that this was true. But come on—no one could sing like this.
It’s Christmas Time – The Louvin Brothers
One of the best CDs I bought this year was a compilation of the Louvin Brothers. I’d often heard about them and had heard others cover them. But there is nothing like their harmony. There are some dark, dark stories about the Louvin Brothers, but that’s for another time.
I’d Like to Have an Elephant for Christmas – Hank Thompson
Yeah, it’s been done before. It was a hippopotamus, not an elephant. Does that make this less of a song? I don’t think so.
Happy Christmas Day – Charlie Pride
We’ve posted Pride before. 36 number one hits in 40 years ain’t too bad, especially when you’re one of the first black performers in country music. Favorite quote by Pride: “I don't have no skin hang-ups. I'm no color. I'm just Charley Pride, the man.” Listen to that voice—how can anyone have a hang-up with that? His life is a great story and we’ll soon see Terrance Howard play him in a movie. I can’t wait.
Santa’s Coming In A Big Ole Truck – Red Simpson
Out on the Road for Christmas – Red Simpson
Something I forgot to mention that I love about country music: trucker songs. Seriously, PC can attest to my undying love for “Eastbound and Down” by Jerry Reed or “Drivin’ My Life Away” by Eddie Rabbitt. I don’t know what it is but I just a love a great song about driving down the highway. One that includes Christmas—you can’t beat it.
Little Toy Trains – Roger Miller
This is a beautiful, sweet little song about a little boy on Christmas Eve. Yet another thing I forgot to mention about country music—the charming sentimentality. Miller and his smoker’s baritone just kind of trickles in at the beginning. And when that lovely chorus begins—it’s hard not to sing along.
We're trying to get requests out to people. Someone asked me about punk Christmas songs. Aside from a few Ramones tracks, I really just don't think that I have anything else. But I'll look around in the 77 Santas sleigh and see what I can find. No promises though.
Well, we're getting requests, and since we're here to please, this little post is for Brooke. Sorry so short, just want to get the songs out there!
Jose Feliciano: Feliz Navidad
I've been waiting to put this classic up! When we were younger, my brother, sister, and I made up our own lyrics. They were: "These peas make me faht". Sadly, I haven't matured much since then.
John Denver and the Muppets: The Twelve Days of Christmas
I just heard this for the first time this past week. Not really sure how it happened.
Etta James: Merry Christmas Baby
Sometimes you find a song out there, and all you can say is OOOOOOOH!
Lou Monte: Dominic the Donkey
Not sure if I've already posted this one or not, but what the hell!
JV should be along with the second part of the country christmas post. Our semesters are both coming to an end, so look out!