A Quirky Eclectic Christmas Mix (2013 ed.)

[Video: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (with She Her & I), “All I Want for Christmas…” See note at the bottom of this post for more information.]

As in every year beginning in 2008, I’ve added ten songs to the bottom of the previous years’ entries. As before, these artists and numbers appear, back-to-back, in the following playlist:

— 2008: —

  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
    — 2011: —
  31. Ralph Marterie and His Band: Dig That Crazy Santa  Claus
  32. Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song
  33. The Indigo Girls: It Really Is (A Wonderful Life) (lyrics)
  34. Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers: Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town
  35. Dean Martin: Baby It’s Cold Outside (also see the wonderful American Songwriter writeup on the story of this song’s composition [thanks, Jules!])
  36. Ferrante and Teicher: Sleigh Ride
  37. Bo Dollis & Wild Magnolias: Shakana Santa Shake It
  38. Neil Diamond: Silver Bells
  39. Taverner Consort, Choir, & Players (Andrew Parrott, conductor): Branle de l’Officiel (Ding! Dong! Merrily on High)
  40. George Winston: Carol of the Bells
    — 2012: —
  41. Michael Tilson-Thomas & Philharmonia Orchestra: The Nutcracker (Overture)
  42. Vince Guaraldi Trio: O Tannenbaum
  43. Troy Hess: Christmas on the Moon (And don’t worry, it’s not just you: no one else seems to understand the lyrics (other than the refrain), either.* America’s Singing Souvenir Troy Hess was four years old when he recorded this in 1970. )
  44. Barbra Streisand: I Wonder as I Wander
  45. Frank Sinatra: Jingle Bells
  46. Al Hirt: Ave Maria
  47. Art Neville: Christmas Gumbo
  48. Ella Fitzgerald: Frosty the Snowman
  49. Dean Martin: I’ll Be Home for Christmas
  50. Choir of King’s College, Cambridge: Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht
    — 2013: —
  51. Knightsong: Christmas Is Coming
  52. Mannheim Steamroller: Pat-a-Pan
  53. Vienna Boys’ Choir: The Little Drummer Boy
  54. Tori Amos: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  55. Cumberland Gap Reunion: The First Noel
  56. I Soloisti di Zagreb & Antonio Janigro: Toy Symphony: I: Allegro
  57. Liuba María Hevia (Spanish-language site): Venid Fieles Todos (Adeste Fidelis) (probably my favorite track in this year’s mix)
  58. Corporal Blossom: White Christmas (see below for more information about this track)
  59. Perry Como: O Holy Night
  60. Enya: Oíche Chiúin [Chorale]

(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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If you prefer, with the player gizmo below you can listen to just the current ten-song list, without having to fast-forward to it through earlier lists. And as in the last couple of years, I’ve also given RAMH regulars (and anyone else who can figure it out!) the chance to use their secret right-bracket decoder rings, to listen to the playlist later without even visiting here. Here we go with this year’s selections only:

[2013 only

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Every year’s list seems to include at least one oddball song. For 2013’s candidate, I offer you “White Christmas,” #58 in the six-year playlist — the third one up from the bottom. I can’t tell you much about the nominal artist, “Corporal Blossom”; nearly all the Web links to his name point to download sites. But he appeared on (after apparently conceiving) an album of Christmas music a few years ago, A Mutated Christmas, put out on the Illegal Art label. (Read more about Illegal Art — a “sampling label” — at Wikipedia.) You can download the MP3 version for free from the publisher’s site, perhaps because Illegal Art is on “indefinite hiatus” (as the site says). I haven’t heard the whole album, but I loved one of the Amazon reviews:

It’s glitch, and dark ambient electronica, and very very weird. And it gets weirder progressively – the end of the album is something I would consider to be very unsettling.

(“Glitch,” apparently, is a musical genre. Who knew?*)

'Corporal Blossom' (Layng Martine III)Corporal Blossom is actually a pseudonym for one Layng Martine III. You may not recognize the name — I certainly didn’t — but he comes from a family with strong musical credentials. His dad, Layng Martine Jr., is a Nashville singer-songwriter with ties to Reba McIntire, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, et various al. And Layng III’s brother, Tucker Martine, has made a big splash in more mainstream genres, working in various capacities with a fine array of pop and rock musicians — even composing the startup sound for a version of Microsoft Windows (as did Brian Eno, for Windows 95).

In his own career, “Corporal Blossom” has carved out one of those indescribable music niches — not quite a musician, not quite a DJ, not quite a producer, not quite a sonic artist, but a mashup of all those roles. (I encourage you to read the interview with him at the excellent but (alas) moribund Some Assembly Required music blog.) His “White Christmas” — from, yes, Mutated Christmas — doesn’t feature his own voice: that’s Elvis, sampled from The King’s own rendition**. How about that? As Ashley Montagu wrote:

The world is so full of wonderful things we should all, if we were taught how to appreciate it, be far richer than kings.

Have a wonderfully rich holiday!

_________________________

About the video: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has done three Christmas albums, including the new It Feels Like Christmas Time release. She Her & I have worked as BBVD’s backup vocalists on more than one album, including this year’s Christmas title; this is one of several videos the two groups shot to promote the release. (And, as it happens, both Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and She Her & I have been featured in RAMH Midweek Music Breaks over the last few months.)

* “‘Glitch,’ apparently, is a musical genre. Who knew?”:  Yes, it is, and — how could I have doubted? — Wikipedia knows. (The Beatles’ “Revolution #9” might be an early example of glitch-like music, but I dunno.)

** Elvis’s rendition of “White Christmas” was based on the one by The Drifters. (You may remember the latter from Home Alone — one of the scenes in which Kevin is singing along with it just before splashing his dad’s aftershave on his face.) Nevertheless, it was Elvis’s version of the song which got songwriter Irving Berlin so bent out of shape. Apparently because, y’know, it was ELVIS.

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  1. In our household, The Missus is the touchstone for, y’know, all things Elvis. When I told her the other day about the Drifters/Elvis/Irving Berlin “White Christmas” kerfuffle, she wanted to know if I’d included the Drifters and Elvis versions in the playlist. Well, no — no room (in the mix, as at the inn).

    However…

    Aside from the Home Alone use, The Drifters’ recording got a boost fairly recently from this animated YouTube video:

    And here’s the Elvis Presley version:

    [Below, click Play button to begin White Christmas. While audio is playing, volume control appears at left — a row of little vertical bars. This clip is 2:23 long.

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    And should The Missus read this comment: yes, my Christmas sweetheart — both of the above are now in our household “Christmas Favorites” playlist. :)

  2. Another aside, this one about “The Toy Symphony.” This work, of disputed authorship (as Wikipedia explains), consists of three movements; in this year’s playlist, I’ve included (#56) only the first, Allegro movement.

    I did try to include the other two movements as well (II: Menuetto and III: Finale). However, this mangled the numbering in various ways — some of the mangling being beyond my control. Given another day or so, I might have combined the three pieces into a single mega-piece… but, well, there was no other day.

    Yet, and still, if you’re interested in hearing the whole thing, well, here y’go:

    [Below, click Play button to begin Toy Symphony (Three Movements). While audio is playing, volume control appears at left — a row of little vertical bars. These three clips, taken together, are about 10:01 long.]

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