A Quirky Eclectic Christmas Mix (2014 ed.)

[Video: note the bass with a truncated bottom. It’s called a Czech-Ease road bass, sold (and apparently designed) by one David Gage of New York. As for the performance, lauded by Penn Jillette as “a tiny little bit of perfect,” it really channels Patsy Cline, doesn’t it? (At the outset, you may wonder — as did I — where the plural “duelling bassES” comes from. Give it time — almost a minute.) For more information on Kate Davis, drop by her Web site. Elvis’s original version of the song is number 22 in the below list, from 2010.]

So: another year, another Christmas… Here (as I’ve done annually since 2008), I’ve added ten songs to the bottom of the previous years’ entries. As before, these artists and songs appear, back-to-back, in the following playlist:

Want to visit the pages for earlier playlists, which include videos, other songs, and some background material not in the “official” list? Here y’go:

— 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
  59. Perry Como: O Holy Night
  60. Enya: Oíche Chiúin [Chorale]
    — 2014: —
  61. George Winston: Some Children See Him
  62. She & Him: Baby It’s Cold Outside (this year’s favorite!)
  63. Bing Crosby: Winter Wonderland
  64. Barry Gordon: Nuttin’ for Christmas
  65. Mahalia Jackson: Go Tell It on the Mountain
  66. Bobby Helms: Jingle Bell Rock
  67. Ray Conniff & the Ray Conniff Singers: The Twelve Days of Christmas
  68. Barbra Streisand: Jingle Bells? (And yes, the question mark belongs there! You might be interested in the Midweek Music Break for this song, posted on December 24, 2014 — which explains why this number replaced the one I first included here.)
  69. Emmylou Harris: Light of the Stable
  70. Boston Pops Orchestra: The Nutcracker: Final Waltz

(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’re pressed for time, and/or just don’t want to (re-)listen to the earlier years’ selections, with the player gizmo below you can listen to just 2014’s 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 the ten selections from this year only:

[2014 only

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Belatedly, I have learned of a contemporary problem with the song “Baby It’s Cold Outside” (#62 above): the back-and-forth dialogue describes a scene in which one party (her, usually) wants to leave, and the other party (he, ditto) wants the first party to stay. These two parties are referred to in the original lyric sheets as “mouse” and “wolf,” respectively — and indeed, there’s a prey-and-predator thing going on. Consequently, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” seems to have become a sort of poster child for real-world relationship ugliness like date rape. (Picture Bill Cosby as the wolf, and any of his alleged victims as the mouse, and you’ll see how that could be.)

This year’s isn’t the only appearance of the song on the RAMH Christmas playlist; Dean Martin covers it at song #35, from 2011. Personally, I am persuaded by the thinking behind this column at the Washington Post site.

If you’d like to see song from the other side of the argument, though, you might want to start with this “line-by-line takedown.” At least the latter seems to agree that She & Him have done right with their inverted non-traditional reading of the lyrics: “She” (Zooey Deschanel) takes the wolf’s role, and “Him” (M. Ward) the mouse’s.

Here’s to a wonderful couple of holiday weeks — and a happy, enriching 2015!

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