Christmas Music – Some of My Favorites

Antsy McClain Christmas

Antsy McClain Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year.  We think of others and give gifts.  The colors of Christmas are everywhere.  And then there is all that Christmas music playing everywhere…from the bouncy notes of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” to the heavenly sounds of Handel’s “Messiah,” there is the old. Turn on the radio and some stations are playing Christmas music 24/7.   Such is the case in Lexington, with TWO stations dedicated to all Christmas all the time in December. WGKS (KISS FM 96.9) and their 12 Days of KISSMas along with WMXL (Mix 94.5) and their MixMas both play the classics and a few more recent tunes.

KISS FM 12 Days of KISS-Mas

KISS FM 12 Days of KISS-Mas

MixMas

Mix 94.5 Mix-Mas

Though I love the classic Christmas songs I grew up with, such as Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” Johnny Mathis’s rendition of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song,” and a couple dozen others, I get tired of hearing the same versions on BOTH stations, with little variety between the two. I am refreshed by listening to our Public Station WUKY-FM, which is an Americana format when NPR is not on the air. During the Christmas season they mingle in many fun renditions of Christmas tunes not typically heard on the pop stations such as a recent version of “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch” by Aimee Mann.

But, I have my own “eclectic” mix of Christmas favorites (mingled with some of the classics I hear on the 24/7 stations). I have a 1 TB Hard Drive dedicated to my MP3 collection (nearly 100,000 mp3s) and, within that is my collection of over 4000 Christmas songs ranging from the 1940s to the 2010s. Following are some of my favorite albums and tunes from over the years….

SOME OF MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS ALBUMS (in no particular order)

AntsyMcClainAntsy McClain – Merry Christmas from the Trailer Park

Antsy’s Christmas album has a refreshing twist of redneck humor mingled with some sentimental tunes and Christmas favorites.

 

HoeyGary Hoey – Ho Ho Hoey Christmas (4 different CDs)

Gary Hoey is a fine rock guitarist. His remakes of some classic rock songs are fabulous, but his rocking versions of Christmas classics became so popular that he now has four albums. Definitely worth a long listen on a snowy winter night!

TSOCoverTrans-Siberian Orchestra

Founded by rock producer, composer and lyricist Paul O’Neill (who has managed and produced bands such as Aerosmith, AC/DC, Joan Jett and the Scorpions) in 1996, he, along with members of the rock band Savatage created a music spectacle of classical music melded with rock music and then a stage show that beats ALL stage shows (and I have seen them perform). The band has a Christmas trilogy and all three of their Christmas albums are classics!

SetzerBrian Setzer

Brian Setzer was the brains behind the new wave rockabilly group The Stray Cats. He broke out on his own with the swing band Brian Setzer Orchestra and has three rockin’ Christmas CDs that’ll surely get you up and dancing!

 

ChicagoChicago

Chicago has been one of my favorite groups since its beginnings in the early 1970s. In 2005 they released their first Christmas CD and a second one was released In 2011. These CDs offer the fresh sounds of Christmas with the bands famed horns and alluring vocal arrangements. Great music for a hot chocolate and nice fire in a snowy December evening.

PTXPentatonix

The A Capella group Pentatonix took the Pop world by storm after winning the TV show “The Sing Off.” This group of five has made A Capella an “in” thing with unique videos of renditions of favorites from three decades. Their Christmas CD is amazing and their videos are too.

MannheimMannheim Steamroller

Mannheim Steamroller was the creation of composer/record producer Chip Davis (who was also the creator of the famous 70’s era song “Convoy” by a made up artist named C.W. McCall. After a few albums albums that contained a blend of baroque classical music, light jazz, and rock, he forged ahead in 1984 with his first Christmas album called a Mannheim Steamroller Christmas. The band has since produced a number of Christmas albums and, like Trans-Siberian Orchestra, they tour the country during the holiday season with live shows.

HerbAlpertHerb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Christmas

Herb Alpert was an iconic name in the 1960s with his Latin-flared mariachi-style music.  He had a string of hits and later made it possible for him to create the record label A & M (the A was for Alpert and M for partner Jerry Moss).  A & M signed groups such as the Carpenters.  His Christmas album from 1968 remains a classic in my books!

dr dimento christmas vol vi335Dr. Demento’s “The Greatest Novelty Records of All Time” Christmas

I have always loved Dr. Demento (and I even have an autographed photo and a personalized iPod greeting from Dr. Demento!!) Having grown up a big fan of Dr. Demento in the 1970s, I have grown to love these “classics,” which I am noting below

SOME OF MY FAVORITE NOVELTY CHRISTMAS SONGS (in no particular order)

I am such a big fan of novelty Christmas songs that I am including some below.  Yes, I still love many of the classic songs, but these Christmas Novelty classics are always fun!!

Single_Elmo_&_Patsy-Grandma_Got_Run_Over_by_a_Reindeer_coverGrandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer by Elmo and Patsie

Written by Randy Brooks, the song was originally performed by the husband-and-wife duo of Elmo and Patsy Trigg Shropshire in 1979. In the lyrics, a family matriarch gets drunk from drinking too much eggnog and, having forgotten to take her medicine and despite warnings from her family, staggers outside into a snowstorm. On her walk, she is trampled and killed by Santa Claus and his reindeer.  Always a fun laugh.

GaylaPeevey_HippopotamusI Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas by Gayla Peevey

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” is a Christmas novelty song written by John Rox (1902–1957) and performed by Gayla Peevey (10 years old at the time) in 1953. Peevey was a child star from Ponca City, Oklahoma (and yes, I have been there!!). When released nationally by Columbia Records, the song shot to the top of the charts and the city zoo acquired a baby hippo named Matilda. It is a Dr. Demento Christmas staple, and is currently available on Dr. Demento’s The Greatest Novelty Records of All Time Vol. 6: Christmas.

spike-jones-all-i-want-for-christmas-is-my-two-front-teeth-rca-victor-78

All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth by Spike Jones & His City Slickers Band

This song was written in 1944 by Donald Yetter Gardner (1913-2004) while teaching music at public schools in Smithtown, New York. He asked his second grade class what they wanted for Christmas, and noticed that almost all of the students had at least one front tooth missing as they answered in a lisp. Gardner wrote the song in 30 minutes. The song was originally recorded by Spike Jones & His City Slickers on December 6, 1947, with lead vocal by George Rock and was released on a 78 RPM recording. 

12-DAYS-FEATUREThe Twelve Gifts of Christmas by Allan Sherman

Allan Sherman was an American comedy writer and television producer who became famous as a song parodist in the early 1960s. His first album, My Son, the Folk Singer (1962), became the fastest-selling record album up to that time. His biggest hit single was “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh“, a comic novelty in which a boy describes his summer camp experiences to the tune of Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours.  His Twelve Gifts of Christmas was released in 1964 and skyrocketed up the charts. Sherman, who was Jewish, made it really fun!

WhirlingDervishesYou’re a Mean One, Mister Grinch by the Whirling Dervishes

I started off with a cover of the Grinch and am gonna finish with the same.  I love the song and the Whirling Dervishes do it great! They were an alt-rock band from Westfield, NJ, that was big locally through the late 80s-early 90s.

I am closing with their song….

My Rock and Roll Fantasy Trip

Rock n Roll FantasyJourneyLast night I had a vision of a Rock and Roll Fantasy Trip.  I would Head East on a Journey across America. I consulted with my friends the Doobie Brothers and the Pointer Sisters as to what I should use to take the trip. After they told me the Cars were not the best choice, I was determined not to go on Blind Faith and ride some Government Mule. Instead, I hopped into my REO Speedwagon and made my way to Kansas. It was like a magic carpet ride when I rolled down the highway with my Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Unfortunately I was pulled over by the Police who thought I was driving like I was on a Highway to Hell.  They thought I had some Outlaws with me.

On the Highway to Hell

On the Highway to Hell

KansasREO_4878Along the way I saw all sorts of Animals and Buggles, which the Pure Prairie League advised me to watch for. Indeed, I saw Eagles, a Camel, a few Yardbirds, some Beatles, Scorpions, a Whitesnake, Byrds, and even saw some Zombies, but the best thing was being able to see the Monkees.  I was really shocked when a Def Leppard ran by chasing a Steppenwolf!!!

The_animalschicago-logoI headed through Black Oak Arkansas and then, after passing through St. Louis, where I saw the Archies, who let me drive their Rose Royce, I headed north in the fast lane to Chicago with a quick roll by Bay City in Michigan. I had to avoid Kentucky because I was afraid of the Kentucky Headhunters.

Driving the Rose Royce

Driving the Rose Royce like a Bay City Roller

Black Oak Arkansas - High on the HogRose_Royce_IIBayCity Roller

On the way I stopped by Alice’s Restaurant to have a bite to eat. I ordered a Sugarloaf of Bread with some Pearl Jam that was made with Cranberries and Raspberries. I was then given my Aha moment when they served me some Vanilla Fudge on a dish of Moby Grape and Electric Prunes. After a cup of Vanilla Ice my Strawberry Alarm Clock let me know it was time to be movin’ on.

SugarloafBreadI continued to Boston in a Fabulous Thunderbird so I could see Paul Revere and the Raiders. Instead, I saw the Damn Yankees using Styx to shoot down a Led Zeppelin and a Jefferson Starship. Being a Sunday, it truly seemed like a Black Sabbath.

Fabulous ThunderbirdsBostonI didn’t want to Rush, but I decided it might be better to take a trip to Europe or Asia. But first, Guess Who I saw in Boston? Yes, it was the Electric Light Orchestra and I got to see them at the Culture Club. And then, someone told me, but I don’t remember Who, that when I am in Asia I should see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  That was a definite Yes!! He then said OK Go!

OKGO_LOGO_tallAsiaI joined my friends the Traveling Wilburys and we caught a ride on the Wings of a Jefferson Airplane, which was built by Mike and the Mechanics at the Aerosmith factory. We made our way across the Deep Purple skies to Asia. The flight had an amazing meal with some Meatloaf, Korn, Black-Eyed Peas and a side of Hot Tuna covered with Red Hot Chili Peppers.  The dessert was yummy too.  We had some Cake covered in Cream, Peaches & Herb and then had a small Humble Pie. When we finally landed we saw people Smashing Pumpkins on the Rare Earth.  Then I saw an Insane Clown Posse being chased by some Fine Young Cannibals. But it was the 10,000 Maniacs that made me realize I had to get out and begin running down a dream in Europe.

MeatLoafKorneurope-logoUnfortunately I had a Foreigner and some Bad Company on this leg of the trip and apparently they were going to join a Blue Oyster Cult and attend the Creedence Clearwater Revival which was headed up by the Pink Floyd himself!!

Pink%20Floyd-Badges-bQueen-LogoAll I wanted to do in Europe was visit the Queen, but someone misunderstood and they sent me to see the Queens of the Stone Age as well as Queensryche….but King Crimson introduced me to the Kings of Leon and their son Prince.  The Royal Guardsman were snooping around the whole day and made me feel like a bunch of Rolling Stones with Simple Minds. I am sure U2 would feel this way!!  I was out of it like a Tired Pony and decided to look for some Motels, but all I saw were Faces involved in a Quiet Riot and I really did feel the noise. I had to get out of that place but was warned that there were Village People there and They Might Be Giants.  Fortunately, all I saw was a Gentle Giant.

Gentle GiantI had to get back to the USA and so I found the B-52s for the trip, but they didn’t give me a ticket to ride. After my Rage Against the Machine to protect against the Imagine Dragons, we headed for the Beautiful South where I could meet the Beach Boys, though one of them had a Badfinger that left them in Dire Straits.

Beautiful Southvelvet-underground-logo-designWhen I finally got back to where I once belonged,  I got a chance to ride on the Velvet Underground to meet the big shots of the Tijuana Brass.  As a Flock of Seagulls flew by, I turned on the Tubes to see the Talking Heads.  They talked of my trip and said it took a lot of Spirit and noted that I really had a Heart. And thus, my Dashboard Confession is that this truly ended up being a Green Day for it became my Rock and Roll Fantasy….and I won’t get fooled again.

Image converted using ifftoanySpirit