A Quirky Eclectic Christmas Mix (2017 Ed.)

[Video: Wikipedia describes Gayla Peevey as “a former singer and child star from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.” Her first performance of of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” is the one which opens this video: an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, in 1953, when she was 10. Someone tracked her down last year, when she was 73, and did a second recording — this video’s uploader has tacked it onto the end of the original. (You therefore can enjoy hearing the entire thing twice (you completist, you).) Peevey has been in the news recently because this week, she helped to welcome a new hippo to the Oklahoma City Zoo.]

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

2008 2009
2010 2011
2012 2013
2014 2015

First things first: let’s get straight to the music, so you can listen without having to wade through my wool-gathering…

As in past years, I’ve got two audio-thingumabob players for you: the first plays the entire lot of songs, now exactly 100 songs (at ten added per year — now up to over five hours total!); the second, just this year’s ten additions to the list.

First, about  the full list… To repeat from last year’s post (with minor edits for clarity):

  • By default, the list plays straight through, from start to finish, in the order in which the songs were first presented here at RAMH.
  • but you can also pop out the playlist into its own, compact window. This lets you proceed to read through the rest of the post or use your browser for something else — or close it altogether — while the music’s playing. (Note that the pop-out window will automatically begin playing.)
  • If you’d prefer, you can also shuffle the complete list in random order, in a pop-out window, by clicking below (each time you visit this page and click the below link, you’ll get a different sequence). This is now the recommended way to listen to the complete list, for reasons I’ll get into later:

    Pop Out to Shuffle!

In any case, or even if you don’t want to listen at all, you might want to glance at the complete current list of song titles and performers. (Note: this is just a listing; you cannot play music from it.)

Now for the regular audio players… Here’s the complete list (sequential order); you can also open it in a pop-out window by clicking (duh) the little “Popout” button at the top left:

A Quirky/Eclectic Christmas Mix (complete)

…and here are the ten 2017 selections only. As with the complete list, this player just runs through the songs in sequential order, with no shuffle mode:

A Quirky/Eclectic Christmas Mix (2017 Only)

As to the “recommended” method of listening — pop-out and shuffle, using the special link so labeled above — why would you want to randomize the complete list, rather than listen to the songs in order? It boils down to one reason: this is the tenth Christmas season for which I’ve done a Christmas-music post. This has two specific implications:

  • In that time, I’ve started exhausting the back catalogue of music I remember from days gone by, and have begun to rely on suggestions from other sites, on songs newly discovered from artists or albums I’m not familiar with, and so on. So you’ll find — starting this year, certainly — that the selections in a single year are starting to shift from the old standbys, to the somewhat more quirky eclectic end of the spectrum. For my taste, this will eventually make each year’s list too uniformly unfamiliar… and whatever else might be true about the holiday, I value the familiar!
  • I’ve also developed a practice of trying to balance each year’s music among songs of different types. This year, for instance, I juggled the selections to include both old and new artists/performances; performances by men and women; instrumentals and vocals; “edgy” and/or energetic vs. quieter and/or contemplative renditions; shorter vs. longer songs; and so on. I juggled things quite a lot, in fact — so much so that I’ve started wondering if I can continue using all these criteria. If I do relax the constraints some, you may find a given year to be “too [insert adjective]” for your taste. Mixing up the complete list via shuffle mode will distribute these properties much more evenly over time.

Every year, this list includes one or two songs which take even me — the nominal “curator” — by utter surprise. The champion this year, hands down, is #5: Nick Lowe’s rockabilly rendition (although he himself prefers to call it skiffle) of an oooold Christmas gospel/spiritual number, “Children, Go Where I Send Thee.”

If you’re not familiar with the song, you can of course refer to Wikipedia. There you’ll find one version of the lyrics and a sampling of the “name” performers (including Lowe) who’ve taken it on. And you can find many of their performances, as well as “lesser” ones, on YouTube — standard call-and-response versions, bluegrass interpretations, covers by Peter Paul & Mary, Natalie Merchant, Neil Diamond, The Weavers, and so on… including this rap:

The song itself is too old and too folkish to have a well-documented history. But it’s related to several other songs going back to medieval times, including “Green Grow the Rushes, O (or ‘Ho,’ etc.)!” (The counting-one-by-one structure of such songs may make them distant cousins of “The Twelve Days of Chiristmas,” now that I think of it.) Some astute Tolkien fans have also crafted a version substituting Lord of the Rings imagery and tropes for the traditional Biblical ones. The opening of this version:

High Fly the Nazgul O!

I’ll sing you one O,
High fly the Nazgul O!
What is your one O?

One for the One Ring, Lord of all, that was destroyed by Frodo!
Two, two, the watchful Towers, guarding over Mordor O!
Three, three the Elf-rings;
Four for the Hobbits on the Quest;
(and Four for the questing Hobbits)…

What a world, eh?

Thank you for stopping by. Please have a wonderful end-of-year time, no matter what tradition(s) you acknowledge — remember, it’s all about tradition!

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