A beautiful winter scene / Photo credit: YouTube
My top 10 Christmas songs
Well, they’re not actually my Christmas songs. It’s a list of 10 Christmas songs I’m so glad were recorded. As with all music, you get different feelings, nuances, and sentiment among different songs — so comparing one song to another in many cases is comparing apples to oranges. I could never really narrow my Christmas favorites down to 10 — but if I had to today — it would look something like this:
10.) “O Holy Night” — Josh Groban, Mariah Carey, and others have done this song justice. Anne Murray was most stunning in 1981 with her rendition… unless you can get West Burlington local Ruth Lindsey to sing it for you.
9.) “Feliz Navidad” — Jose Feliciano recorded it in 1970. I remember it from the 1978 PBS ‘Christmas Eve on Sesame Street’ special.
8.) “It’s the most Wonderful Time of the Year” — The best version of this timeless classic has to go to Amy Grant from 1992.
7.) “Wonderful Christmas Time” — I remember the first time I heard this 1980 Paul McCartney hit. I thought it was absolutely the worst Christmas song ever… Then, I thought about that bizarre yet endearing synthpop sound for a while. It’s a song like the Cars’ “Drive” or Foreigner’s “Waiting for a Girl like You” that can instantly overcome you by taking you back in time. It’s a very unique sense few songs can deliver as well.
6.) “Last Christmas” — This 1986 song is played often on the radio and in stores throughout the holiday season each year — so much so, in fact, that it has become a game by some to avoid the song! Unbelievably ironical, Wham! lead singer George Michael passed away on Christmas Day in 2016.
5.) “Linus and Lucy” — This instantly recognizable 1968 instrumental by the Vince Guaraldi Trio will make you think of Charlie Brown and Snoopy.
4.) “Grandma got Run over by a Reindeer” — You may cringe that this is not only on the list, but pretty high up on the list. What can I say? This 1979 Elmo and Patsy home run made holiday music fun.
3.) “Jingle Bells” — by The Lettermen (song begins at 2:42) — Lead singer Tony Butala at 79 is younger than most folks half his age. He started the group in 1959 and is still going strong! Donovan Tea and tenor Bobby Poynton round out the trio. They performed their hits and Christmas favorites at the Pzazz! in Burlington on December 11th, 2017. They were incredible — it was the best Christmas show I’ve ever seen.
2.) “Christmas Vacation” — The scenes with Clark and the department store clerk aside, the movie was so well written, acted, and put together — the utmost quintessential, timeless Christmas movie — and Mavis Staples had such a hit with the 1989 single.
1.) “Merry Christmas, Darling” — from 1978 — Karen Carpenter has to be number one. She had such a unique talent. Her special voice made you listen and hang on to every word. I remember it being my favorite song to play off the analog reel-to-reel players on cold, snowy, December evenings in the late ’90s on KBUR-AM.
As I said earlier, it’s basically impossible to narrow a ‘Best Christmas music’ list to 10. Other songs that should be on the list include: the entire orchestral score from ‘Home Alone’, the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra’s or Debbie Gibson’s or Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme’s “Sleigh Ride”, Elvis’ “Blue Christmas”, Mannheim Steamroller’s “Deck the Halls”, the Trans Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas Eve in Sarajevo”, Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” and “Mele Kalikimaka”, John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas”, David Foster’s “Carol of the Bells”, NSYNC’s “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays”, Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is You, Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song”, The Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick”, Gene Autry’s “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” — many more. I really hope you like these, and thank you so much for enjoying the music with me. Merry Christmas to you and your family.