I love traditional Christmas Carols such as Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful) or Silent Night. However if I had to choose one favorite traditional carol it would be O Holy Night; the lyrics are from a French poem, Minuit, Chrétiens (Midnight, Christians) that was set to music composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847. I love the way it starts quietly and crescendos into this powerful exultation of pure love and joy. It's been recorded many times but one of my favorite renditions is by Celine Dion.
I grew up listening to an eclectic mix of music from country to rhythm and blues to gospel. Mahalia Jackson had one of the most recognizable voices in gospel music. Her interpretation of Silent Night rocks you gently like a lullaby.
I also like more contemporary holiday music like Elvis belting out Blue Christmas or Karen Carpenter sweetly singing Merry Christmas, Darling. A couple of years ago I heard a song on the radio that made me want to stop my car, get out and sway to the beat. When the song ended, the DJ didn't name the artist, so I pulled over in the parking lot of the CVS and called the station. The title of the song was All I Want For Christmas Is You and it was performed by Vince Vance and the Valiants. Recorded in 1993, it charted on the country chart and the pop chart. The lead vocals are by Lisa Layne. Another great holiday song with the same title was recorded a couple of years ago by Mariah Carey but they are not the same song, they just have the same title. The video below is the tune by Vince Vance and the Valiants. By the way, the video has a lousy visual but it had the best sound quality.
This next song reminds me of my childhood and my paternal grandmother. She had a wonderful collection of 45s and during the Christmas season she always seemed to have music playing. This classic by Charles Brown was released in 1960. I was five and I loved to listen to the song and watch the grownups slow dance to it in my grandmother's parlor. We don't really have parlors any more, too bad. Every child should have the opportunity to peak around the corner and spy on the grownups. The song is Please Come Home for Christmas.
The next song isn't really a Christmas song; however, it's become associated with Christmas; it's the late Dan Fogelberg's Same Old Lang Syne. This song always makes me cry, sort of like the film, The Way We Were. It's filled with all the regrets of the road not taken and the love that was but somehow didn't work out. A bit of trivia--Fogelberg began each verse with the melody phrase from Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. I like to sing along with this one until my nose is runny from all the crying and I can't make any sound that doesn't sound like a snort. The solo sax wailing Auld Lang Syne as a coda does me in completely. This video has the lyrics!
All of my tastes in Christmas music isn't limited to sad songs or spiritual songs, I looked for a video of that classic tune, Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer but I didn't like any of the versions that I found on YouTube. Yes it's funny, how can you not laugh at a song with lyrics like these, "They should never give a license, to a man who drives a sleigh and plays with elves." However, I found a version sans video that I liked, just click the link.
Every time I think that I'm done, I come across another song that I love. I've been having a sing-a-long while writing this. I can't omit Carla Thomas singing Gee Whiz It's Christmas. Thomas began her career with Stax records and is the daughter of another great soul singer, Rufus Thomas.
I have to include one final tune that is politically incorrect on so many levels but I like it nonetheless, Eartha Kitt crooning Santa Baby. I know that Madonna, and Taylor Swift and a ton of other have done covers of the song, but the tune belongs to Ms. Eartha Kitt and personally, I think all those other versions should be destroyed.
There are so many wonderful songs and I could go on and on but I have to draw the line somewhere. Merry Christmas to all!