Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Countdown - Nostalgia Rules!

Christmas music is different. While I still like to find and play new and different albums, it is the familiar and traditional that reigns supreme as far as Christmas music is concerned.

The best Christmas songs trigger happy memories, the further back the memories go the stronger the effect of the music. In my childhood my parents did not have multitudes of different Christmas albums to choose from. In fact I can recall only one. Every Christmas was celebrated to the sound of Johnny Mathis and his 1958 Album. "Merry Christmas" I recall this being played on a reel-to-reel tape recorder, a Grundig and the sound was limited to the 4" speakers in the player. But for all its limitations, this music for me has always been Christmas. It triggers strong memories of years and parents long gone. Years later I picked up a copy on CD and it still has the same effect on me every time I play it. Somehow the Percy Faith arrangements and Johnny's unmistakable voice induce time travel every time.

Later on I meet my LSW (Long Suffering Wife - Kathy) and she brought with her a different musical tradition. So the Bing Crosby Album "White Christmas" became part of a new family tradition. For me this album does not take me back to my childhood but to those first Christmases with Kathy. (or at least the first ones after we purchased a CD Player)

Around that same time of starting a both a Family and a CD collection I added the compilation "A Very Special Christmas" to the yuletide playlist. To me this remains the best of the series of Christmas Albums made to benefit the special Olympics. Some of the tracks remained true to tradition. In particular the Pretenders version of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is the best at conveying the sadness that runs beneath the surface lyrics of this song. At the same time John Mellencamp brings a new feel to the classic "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa-Claus". Perhaps it was just the high rotation of the album for those early years but that is the time I go back to when I hear those songs.

But to each his(or her) own. These are the Christmas songs that take me back in time. Everybody else will have their own, based on what was played all the time for their early Christmas holidays. I'm sure some people can't eat turkey without listening to Slade sing "Merry Xmas Everybody" and new traditions are now being created with Lil Wayne and Young Money providing the soundtrack.

So for now particular reason I'll offer up these two versions of "Sleigh Ride". Merry Christmas whichever version you prefer. Leave a comment at the bottom of the post. What is your favorite Christmas Album or song?

Johnny Mathis

The Spice Girls


  1. My memories are of a Christmas Album by The Carpenters

  2. Elvis at Christmas. Then again Elvis all the time.