Sounds of the Season
I had every intention of putting this playlist together before Christmas, but procrastination got the better of me, and it got postponed until now. However, there’s a New Year’s song on the list, so I figure it all comes out in the wash. One of my twitter friends (@jtw3) created a 2010 Christmas playlist and inspired me to think about the songs that I just can’t do without come the holidays. He had simple rules: don’t pick too many songs, and pick songs you like but only one song by any one particular artist. While his playlist consisted of songs for 2010, my playlist is actually my all time favorite holiday songs by the specific artist that I prefer singing the song. It’s not that I don’t like listening to a different artist singing the song if it is a traditional, much recorded song, it’s just that I prefer these. Also, my version of WordPress doesn’t allow me to publish a widget of the playlist in a post, so I’ve created the playlist on Grooveshark (with the exception of two songs that were not available on their site) and have provided the link to that playlist below if you care to have a listen. The Playlist is in alphabetical order to save myself from having to order my favorites…you know like picking which child you like more. Enjoy!
- Belleau Wood by Garth Brooks – This song isn’t actually on Garth’s Christmas Album, but it’s a song about a Christmas truce during World War I. Garth took some artistic license with it as there was actually a battle at Belleau Wood during WWI, but not during Christmas. It’s still one of the most beautiful and powerful holiday songs I’ve ever heard.
- Do You Hear What I Hear? by Vince Gill – This is one of a few songs on this list that I love the entire album, but I have to only pick one song. The album is Let There Be Peace On Earth, which is also a lovely song as is One Bright Star, but when Vince starts singing, “Said the night wind to the little lamb…” my heart melts.
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan – Sure it’s a song that you always seemed to find yourself singing in church during the holidays, but when you throw the Barenaked Ladies together with Ms. Sarah’s beautiful voice you create a musical masterpiece that you’ll crazily want to listen to year round…and why not.
- Grown-Up Christmas List by Michael Buble – Don’t you ever wish you could actually tell Santa what you’d REALLY like. When I look around at this world and see so many areas that need help and feel helpless because I can’t do it all, I wish I could call the North Pole and say HELP! Pair that with Michael’s voice and who wouldn’t want to do more?!
- I’ll Be Home For Christmas by Rascal Flatts – I heard this song on the radio one day on my way home from work. It’s always been a favorite of mine, but when I heard Rascal Flatts sing it a cappella, it tugged at my heart strings for every person who can’t be home for Christmas and made me want to jump on a plane that second. Their voices have always been in perfect harmony, but on this song, they just shine.
- It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas by Perry Como – Perry Como is one of the signature voices of the holiday season and whenever I hear this song, I’m transported in my mind to walking through a mall at Christmas time and hearing it played over the mall sound system.
- Jingle Bells by Barbra Streisand – Sure everyone can sing Jingle Bells…heck I’m sure all of us could probably play it on the piano without a single lesson. But Ms. Barbra will make you forget every version of Jingle Bells you’ve ever heard with this one. It’s my opinion that this is the way Jingle Bells was meant to be sung.
- Mary, Did You Know? by Kathy Mattea – This song leaves me with tears streaming down my face every time I hear it. I think in all the hustle and bustle of the season we absolutely forget why there is a Christmas at all. And on top of that, I think we forget that the Savior’s birth was just the beginning of His destiny here on Earth. This baby was born to die for our sins, and when I listen to this song, I imagine Mary rocking her newborn son, and I wonder if as she looked into His eyes she actually thought about what He would do for all of us.
- My Christmas Prayer by BeBe Winans and Rob Thomas – A few years ago BeBe Winans released a Christmas album that I believe was only sold at Starbucks, but he appeared on Oprah to promote the album (I think). This song is similar to Grown-Up Christmas List, but speaks more specifically of how we treat each other. The pairing of BeBe and Rob’s voices seems odd on the surface, but it really works.
- O Little Town Of Bethlehem by Sawyer Brown – Not available on Grooveshark, you can click on the title to see a YouTube video of the song. Sawyer Brown’s Christmas album “Hallelujah He Is Born” is another of my favorite Christmas albums and much like Barbra Streisand’s Jingle Bells this is the way O Little Town Of Bethlehem was meant to be sung. We should celebrate the birth of the savior. It should be spirited and joyful. Though He was sent to eventually be crucified for our sins, none of that is possible without first His birth.
- O Holy Night by Martina McBride – One of my all time absolute favorite songs period…not just Christmas songs…ALL songs. I bought Martina’s Christmas album solely for this song (you know before iTunes existed and you could buy just one song). Just as Mary, Did You Know? leaves me in tears, this song…this version leaves me breathless.
- Santa Claus (I Still Believe In You) by Alabama – This is another song from an album that I love all the songs but could only pick one. I can remember loading up the car and heading for Orange Park to see my uncles and then on to North Carolina to be with my mother’s family and this is the album my dad would put in the tape player…yes, I said tape player. Not just that, I had this album on…wait for it…8 track. I have owned this album on 8 track, cassette, and now CD. It’s the first album I want to listen to when the Christmas season arrives. It starts and ends with two of the greatest Christmas songs ever written. Christmas just isn’t Christmas without the Alabama Christmas album.
- Silent Night by Sara Ramirez – This is one of the songs that wasn’t available on Grooveshark, but if you click on the title it’ll take you to a YouTube video of it. This was played during last year’s (2009) Grey’s Anatomy Christmas episode. Sara Ramirez, for those who don’t know, plays Callie and in the final scene of the episode, everyone is gathered around at Meredith’s house for Christmas dinner. In the background you hear one magnificent voice begin to sing Silent Night and that voice is the only instrument you hear. It was so wonderfully received by Grey’s fans that ABC released it as a single to iTunes. As I imagine it, this is what it sounded like when Mary sang to baby Jesus.
- Sleigh Ride by Johnny Mathis – Who doesn’t LOVE Johnny Mathis, especially at Christmas?! Like Perry Como, his voice defines the season. I love the part where he says “Pump…Kin pie” and all the background noises like the pop, pop, pop and the crack of the whip. I could pick a million Johnny Mathis songs to have on this playlist, but this one is my favorite.
- The Chipmunk Song by Alvin and The Chipmunks – I triple dog dare you not to start swaying your head back and forth when you listen to this song. It’s another in a long line of Christmas songs that defines my childhood. Seriously, doesn’t it make you want a hula hoop?
- The World That He Sees by Trans-Siberian Orchestra – I know, I know…you’re asking yourself how on earth I can pick one TSO song. Trust me…it was hard. I could have gone with everyone’s favorite Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24 or one of my other faves Christmas Canon but I thought I’d go with the more obscure. Just listen to it…every bit of what TSO tries to bring to the table is in that song…but then again it’s in all of their songs, isn’t it?!
- We Need A Little Christmas by The Radio City Rockettes – Ok…so the playlist is actually Percy Faith’s Orchestra, but it sounds the exact same way when the Radio City Rockettes sing it in their Christmas Spectacular. It’s the “It’s Christmas darn it, cheer up” song.
- What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? by Harry Connick, Jr. – There is no other song on this list that I look forward to hearing more than this one, but that’s not to say it is my favorite on this playlist. It’s just that I adore the lyrics and the melody and the whole entire package of this song so very much. It’s romantic, sweet, beautiful, silly, and fun. It’s like a Hallmark card wrapped up in a song. The first time I heard this song Harry sang it with Carol Burnett on a Christmas Special for his When My Heart Finds Christmas album. She was her trademark scrub maid and he played the piano as they sang it together.
- When Christmas Comes To Town by Matthew Hall and Meagan Moore – The Polar Express and Yes, Virginia There Really Is A Santa Claus are my two favorite Christmas children’s stories. They’re about believing in the magic of Christmas…about seeing the season through a child’s eyes…and honestly…a little bit about faith because it takes faith to believe in Santa Claus and to believe that Jesus was born to die so that we might live?! I have a million and a half Christmas items or decorations in my house that simply say “Believe.” Heck, I even have a tattoo that says it. Just believe people…life is more enjoyable and magical that way.
- White Christmas by Bing Crosby – I couldn’t find a version of the song that includes the original Beverly Hills introduction, but you can read it at that link. I grew up in Florida, so really dreaming of white Christmases was all I had. I didn’t see snow until I was 14 years old and as luck would have it…it was Christmas when I saw it. It was light and just a dusting, but it was snow nonetheless. Since then, I’ve experienced Snowmaggeddon here in Virginia with upwards of almost 3 feet, but even still, I don’t think I’ll ever get my fill. It’s one of nature’s masterpieces and the only thing I think of when I see a blanket of snow is peace.
And Honorable Mention: