It’s Friday, time for another entry in our “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” series. Darlene Love’s original and U2’s cover are somewhat similar—both pull out all the stops and go jingle-bells to the wall in sound, especially Love. Death Cab for Cutie’s version of the song is softer. It starts out stripped down—only lead singer Ben Gibbard and a guitar. Slowly, the song builds itself—crisp piano chimes in, the leisurely drums. Suddenly, the sadness of the song comes to the forefront. In the both of the prior versions we’ve posted here, that underlying melancholy of the song was perhaps difficult to recognize at first. Death Cab delivers a cover that does transform the song. It’s certainly not better than Darlene, but it’s definitely worth listening to.
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Death Cab for Cutie
I’ve been taking weekends off the past few weeks. Since we’re in December finally, there is no slacking. Do you think Santa Claus is slacking? Do you think the elves are taking a cigarette break in the workshop? Hardly. I’ve been checking some other blogs courtesy Hype Machine and Elbo.ws—it seems that many people have a strong dislike for Christmas tunes, especially what’s considered the old standards.
Where I’m from in Pennsylvania, there is a truly terrible radio station, WMRF. They play about fifteen Christmas songs all year. One reason I think people dislike Christmas songs is because radio stations do play those same songs. With the advent of blogs and satellite radio, hopefully people will finally hear all of the other great Christmas music out there. It’s too bad that radio stations with limited playlists and crappy DJs (talking about you, WMRF) subject listeners to John Mellancamp and Jewell deliver less than stellar versions of Christmas songs. Alright, I’ll step off the soapbox. Sorry.
Winter Wonderland – Darlene Love
This one is for PC, who’s experiencing the first winter storm of the season in Chicago. This one comes off that classic Spector Christmas album.
I’m Dream of a White Christmas – The Drifters
The vocals and bass propel this song. It’s great fun. Every time it’s on the radio (we have a great Christmas station where I now live) I can’t resist signing along.
I Yuts Go Nuts At Christmas – Yogi Yorgesson
Dr. Demento introduced me to this song. When I was a kid, I listened to Dr. Demento every Sunday night on the radio. Each year, he’d devote two shows to Christmas music. This is even on the Christmas album he compiled. I always thought that Yogi Yorgesson wasn’t really Yogi Yogesson but rather an actor. When I looked him up in Google, I was directed to this great biography for Harry Stewart.
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Ruth Brown
One version that I overlooked the other day. A soulful and jazzy take on the classic. It’s slow and, of course, depressing. But Brown’s full voice is beautiful throughout. It reminds me: I wonder if Nina Simone has any Christmas tunes? I honestly don’t know, but I’d love to hear one. I don’t know if you saw the comments from the “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” post, but one of our readers posted a link to a Tori Amos version which is also very nice.
Christmas in Hollis – Run DMC
Our first and (probably) only hip hop song. This comes from A Very Special Christmas—we’ve posted many from that album and it’s well worth finally buying if you haven’t already. I remember this song from Die Hard, which is always a surprising entry on my top ten list of my favorite Christmas movies. This song’s a classic—I only said that this would probably be the only hip hop song because, well, sadly, I don’t know many others worth posting. But if you’ve got a suggestion, let me know and I’ll try to find it.
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Aimee Mann
For my money, Mann and McLachlan have the best new Christmas albums out this year. This version is unlike any other you’ve heard—it rocks. The arrangements (unmistakable Michael Penn, Mann’s husband) are amazing. But I have heard of another great Christmas album…
Christmas Time – The dB’s
Entertainment Weekly praised this album in last week’s issue. It’s pretty great. Okay, so technically, it came out in 1986 and has been expanded over the years, but this time around, you can get 21 tracks well worth listening to. For those of you sick of the same ole, same ole at Christmas, check this out.
Jingle Bells – Booker T. and the M.G.’s
If you’ve heard Booker T. and the M.G.’s before, try to imagine how this song sounds. Got it? Well, it’s actually even better than that!
Frosty the Snowman – Fats Domino
Man, I love Fats. This has that great sound that the man is know for.