A Quirky Eclectic Christmas Mix (2010 ed.)

Just the latest in an annual series

All I’m going to do for the music portion here, as before, is just add ten songs (and pray that, over time, I won’t blow the little WordPress audio-player thingie out of the water). For the first time, I’m including a couple of newer songs. But I don’t want this to turn into a “Christmas music never heard before or, maybe, since” post — so will keep things nice and traditional for the most part.

As before, these artists and numbers appear, back-to-back, in the playlist:

  1. Peter Robbins et al.: dialogue from A Charlie Brown Christmas
  2. Anonymous 4: Hodie Christus Natus Est
  3. Waverly Consort: Three Spanish Villancicos – Dadme Albcrecias
  4. Perry Como: Home for the Holidays
  5. Mannheim Steamroller: Joy to the World
  6. George Winston: The Holly and the Ivy
  7. Celtic Woman: O Holy Night
  8. John Denver and the Muppets: The Twelve Days of Christmas
  9. Al Hirt: Nutty Jingle Bells
  10. The Roches: Deck the Halls
    — 2009: —
  11. Charlotte Church: Mary’s Boy Child
  12. Madeleine Peyroux/k.d. lang: River
  13. George Winston: Variations on the Kanon
  14. Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops: The Toy Trumpet
  15. Eartha Kitt: Santa Baby
  16. Mannheim Steamroller: Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  17. Celtic Woman: The Wexford Carol
  18. The Brian Setzer Orchestra: Jingle Bells
  19. Jimmy Boyd: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
  20. Cumberland Gap Reunion: Silent Night
    — 2010: —
  21. Sam Phillips: Cold Dark Night (lyrics)
  22. Elvis Presley: Blue Christmas
  23. Loreena McKennitt: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (may be my favorite addition to this year’s list…)
  24. The Chipmunks: The Chipmunk Song
  25. Frank Sinatra: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  26. London Philharmonic Orchestra: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
  27. Tony Elman: Winter Creek
  28. Sara Groves: Toy Packaging (lyrics) (…and this may be my favorite for grins)
  29. Harry Belafonte: Mary’s Boy Child
  30. Ray Conniff Singers: Ring Christmas Bells

(Note: The playlist goes automatically from start to finish, once you click the little Play button. To fast-forward to the next number, once a song is playing you’ll find a little fast-forward button to the right of its progress meter. And a fast-rewind to the left, for that matter.)

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Do you remember the first time you heard the “Barking (or Singing) Dogs Jingle Bells” thing? Me neither. A shame; according to The Atlantic, we may have missed the remaking of music as it passed us by:

It’s time we give the Singing Dogs their due. Created in Denmark in the early 1950s by a self-taught ornithologist and released in the U.S. in 1955, the record marks a turning point in how we listen to music…

The record was the work of Carl Weismann, a pioneer in bird song recording who convinced Danish State Radio to furnish him with some decent equipment.

Dogs often chased Weismann from private property during his field recordings, leaving the day’s results marred by angry barks. On a lark, he took razor to tape to edit out the barks and then painstakingly spliced them together. He tweaked tape speeds to correct the pitches. The arduous process of achieving even a simple melody probably shortened many composers’ forays into tape music. (Today, it just takes a few minutes with the right apps.)…

Music recordings at the time were considered mere substitutes for live performances; for many listeners, this was the first music they had heard that could exist only as a recording.

All of which makes it almost mandatory to include the video:

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  1. What a Christmas gift, John! All I have to do Christmas morning is log on, mouse that little play button, and the soundtrack du jour is DONE!

    This will be a quiet Christmas at our house. Last year was full of family and delightful chaos, but this year we all celebrate as calmer, if less festive, nuclear units. So, your playlist will get more listening and less talk-over. Thank you so much for joining us.

    If the gloom doesn’t let up shortly on the coast, I’ll be barking, too.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  2. yay! thanks for this! i’m listening to it all day at work instead of my normal pandora of scottish folk. :D it’s making me very happy.

  3. darn it. when i commented it stopped the playlist. CURSES!!!

    ok, and this isn’t really a happy song, but i love it and always listen to it at christmas. Christmas in the Trenches, by John McCutcheon. you probably know it already. but i’ll paste it here anyway. http://bit.ly/fuAb2c

  4. Nance: Our Christmas, too, is at a reduced scale this year. Fewer guests, fewer ornaments… and, it must be said, less anxiety.

    (Our living room has a so-called “cathedral ceiling,” probably something like 20 feet high at the center. So we’ve always had a big tree, ’cause we didn’t need to worry about making it fit. This year: a tabletop tree, maybe four feet tall. I thought of sneaking in overnight and secretly substituting a six- or seven-foot stepladder in place of the wooden game table the tree stands on, but was pretty sure that wouldn’t fly with the rest of the household. :))

    You have a nice Christmas, too. My little playlist would be delighted to be included!

  5. whaddayamean: There’s a way to do a standalone Web page with that little audio player thingum, which would solve that “comment at your own risk” problem — I hope you weren’t too far along in your listening when it stopped! If I get a few minutes I’ll see how easy/difficult it will be to implement.

    That “Christmas in the Trenches” number is wonderful! Here’s the video:

    It reminds me of a film, A Midnight Clear, whose action is set in WW2 Europe, in December, 1944. A squad of American soldiers runs into a group of German soldiers who want to surrender rather than continue to fight. Moving and also a little unnerving, with a very good cast (Gary Sinise, Ethan Hawke, et al.). It looks like someone might have uploaded the entire film to YouTube in 10-minute(ish) segments.

    Thanks for “…in the Trenches”!

  6. All: a couple of other good sources of online, quirky, eclectic Christmas music this year:

    • NPR’s “Jingle Jams” stream: the network asked ten member stations to provide ten favorite holiday tunes. “From Bach to The Ramones to Louis Armstrong, it’s a perfect playlist for those who wish to indulge in the spirit of the season while remaining glued to the computer.”
    • The stereomood Christmas mix: as I type this, the list includes “Silent Night” (Sufjan Stevens); “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” (Feist); “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” (Tom Waits); “Jingle Bells” (Barbra Streisand)… a total of 277 songs altogether (although the total can drift upwards as other songs get added to the rotation).
  7. Listening to ‘Christmas in the Trenches’ gave me shivers repeatedly down my spine. Brought on at first by the lyric about toasting the “glorious” while the photo is of a young injured soldier lain on a stretcher in the mud.


    Will now to your song list as I work this afternoon. Thank you.

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